I think that January is a month that can be divided into three halves – well, you know what I mean.
Right at the beginning of the month – in fact I think it was in that dead time between Christmas and new year, I started work on a ring box. For years now I’ve had it in my head to develop a little box. But because people, not unreasonably, expect something smaller to be cheaper, it had to be something I could make reasonably quickly. It couldn’t be a smaller version of a box that I normally make because with the same number of joints it would take the same amount of time. Over the years I’ve made probably over a dozen different prototypes but I wasn’t happy with any of them. They just didn’t have that special quality that I was looking for. I’ve got a shelf full of them. Then around the middle of last year I was asked to make a ring box and the whole small box thing surfaced again. I made the customer her ring box and she was delighted with it but it wasn’t very repeatable. This time I was determined to come up with a design that both looked ‘special’ and was makeable1 Which was how I spent the first half of January 2007. I’m still not quite there but I’m a lot closer and this box definitely won’t end up on the failed prototype shelf.
The next half of January was spent in classic New Year mode. In other words I was sorting out and tidying up. That wasn’t my plan for the middle of January at all but somebody wanted a box in ash and I didn’t have any ash. So I trundled off to get some. The only trouble is that once I’m at the timber yard wandering around all that wood I’m like a child in a sweet shop. I want it all. So naturally I bought too much ash. I also bought some sycamore which I’d need for my ring boxes and I bought too much of that as well. And I couldn’t resist bringing back some walnut that looked interesting. So it was all piled into my long suffering and abused Volvo and hauled back to the workshop. But where on earth could I put it all? It couldn’t stay on the floor so somehow space on the shelves had to be made. So I spent the next week in a total muddle (I hate a muddled workshop) trying to squeeze the proverbial quart into a pint space. Which I did – eventually. Mostly by sawing wood up into box sized bits and carefully labelling and stacking them.
The last half of the month was spent finishing a group of boxes that were on the bench, and had been since before Christmas, so as to completely clear the decks.
Now, finally I must start work on three commissioned boxes that I’ve been putting off for over a year now. I’m not even really sure why I’ve been putting them off – apart from the fact that other boxes come along that are more urgent – but I think it’s more than the squeaky wheel getting oiled; I think there’s something on each of these boxes that I’m a bit frightened of. One of them for example has to have hidden catches, or secret catches. Another is an unusually large box and the third is from HMS Victory oak which is not the easiest wood to make into a box by a huge margin. In fact it’s a pig! But I’ve accepted the commission so I’ve got to get on with it!
Well its February 3rd today so if I upload this now I guess I’ll have done pretty well….But it’s always like that at the start of the year. However the sun is shining and it’s going to be one of those rare winter days that are clear, sunny, light winds and hopefully not too cold. So I’m off to the Lake District to do some paragliding. See you in a month!