Saturday, November 27, 2010

holiday break

It was my birthday yesterday and my sweet hostess, Amy, made me dinner and enfolded me into her extended family and I got cheesecake cupcakes cake!

Thanksgiving was spent with Betsy and Paul (and daughter Mason) in Falmouth. We had GOOSE! Delicious and all dark meat, the only good meat on any bird in my opinion.

I made a thin lobster/orange broth to start (and not end) the meal.
There were carmelized white onions, too.


Here is my first project, when it was nearing completion. It is a maple step-stool with dovetail joinery between the top and sides, and mortise and tenon joinery for the stretcher.
We have moved on to our case piece project. Mine is a small wall-hanging cabinet with a 2 drawers, 3 shelves and a door, incorporating both slab and frame & panel construction. It is quite modest but I want to be able to learn everything thoroughly (and finish it!) Maybe I'll be a wall-hanging cabinet and step-stool maker. I'll get really good at making 2 things, ...kinda like my cookies and granola. I'll be a granola/cookie/wall-hanging cabinet/step-stool maker.
The rest of my class all seem to have taken on bigger and more complicated projects (but then everyone has more experience than me). Sometimes I dream that I have a more complicated piece, like one with legs. I do want to learn how to make legs. And yes, I even dream woodworking.


Here is a little tour of Maine architecture, specifically the natural brown shingle/shake style. Photo #1 is a sweet, small cottage in my neighborhood. Photo #2 is a gorgeous estate I passed while walking along a Rockport coastal road. Photo #3 is a barn, photo #4 is a treehouse and photo #5 shows that even the trailers in Maine can be part of the proud shingle/shake architectural tradition. I haven't found a doghouse yet, but will post as soon as I do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

half way

This is a shot of my deconstructed bench on the sanding table. I have just planed, scraped and random-orbital sandered it. Tomorrow I hope to glue it together and put finish on it. I read in Peter Korn's book that at this stage right here it is only about half finished (!) Okay, maybe before I planed, scraped and sanded it was only at the half-way mark but it sure feels like it should be beyond that after cutting all those dovetails, mortises and tenons.

Here is the moon on this lovely night. It doesn't look like it in this IPhone picture, but it is exactly at the half-moon stage, itself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Okay, for any of you who are wondering about this state of Maine... voila. I didn't take this picture, but Ellie, a gal in my class did, the other morning right out her kitchen window!! This young moose was contentedly munching on apples straight off the tree.

Here is another typical Maine winter sight that some might say looks like a cocoon. But I think it looks like a gigantic floating maggot.

This last picture shows fine examples of a prominent variety of a Maine human: the furniture-maker. They are my teachers, Tim Rousseau (l), Aaron Fedarko (c), and Mason McBrien.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


This morning Betty and I came here for a walk. If you squint, you'll see a lighthouse at the end of this seawall. It is 7/8ths of a mile long. When I read that on a sign I cracked up, it is just so furniture-making-school. Actually, if it had said 29/32nds it would really be furniture-making-schoolesque.
Anyway, at 10 AM it looked like this and we got about 11/36th of the way and waves were splooshing over the rocks. I was wondering if maybe the tide was still coming in and we'd get out to the lighthouse and be stuck for hours waiting for it to go back out. I asked some fishermen who said that they'd been out on it walking through 2 inches of water in the past. It is November. I was wearing sneakers. Amy told me that a woman had recently been swept into the brink. We turned around.
We came back at 5PM. The tide must have been all the way out cause there was at least 10 feet of wall and tons of beach. The sign in the parking area said open sunrise to sunset and the sun was definitely setting spectacularly over Rockland, when we were only about 9/32nds of the way out. Betty was a bit wary of the gaps between the rocks, but we booked on. It started to feel like something from a surreal dream sequence in a French or Spanish movie from the 30s. The thing just kept going and going. I reeeeally wanted to get to that lighthouse and not be thwarted yet again in the same day, but it just felt like we weren't getting anywhere. And it was getting darker. Then and there I made up my mind not to give up. A personal challenge to be brave. Hey, was I holding myself back in my ambitions in my class? I have been leaning toward the idea of concentrating on learning the "skills" very well - even willing to forego a lot of "construction". But I realize that is wimpy. Fearful. Like practicing hitting a tennis ball your entire life but never playing a game. No matter how sucky you may be, playing the game is when you improve/move forward. I decided I did want to make stuff and so what if the first few pieces were homely? They can only get better. How will I ever know how good my skills are if I don't give myself a chance. And besides, I love the idea of designing something beautiful. We got to the windmill, - I mean, lighthouse, walked around it and then picked our way back. It wasn't even that dark by the time we finished, Mom! We're fine. I took myself to a dinner in a nice place. I sat at the bar and ate Pemaquid oysters with an apple mignonette. It is good to be brave.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Here is the port in Rockport on this windy rainy day.

Today was the plane lecture and even though I have heard it before, it was overwhelming.The information is staring to snowball. I can't possibly absorb it all. I am trying not to panic. I know everyone is struggling with the "ocean" of material. "Ocean" is a word my teacher uses when he describes something numerous, vast or monumental. The usage is perfect, being
right the ocean.

This is my 2nd set of dovetails of the day. The first were actually better but there were fewer pins. The methodical practice quells the fears. I used to just get terribly frustrated but now I'll finish a set, cut them off and start over, hoping to remember everything I did wrong and everything I did right.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


This was my greeting this morning, frost on the windshield! It warmed up and became a beautiful day. I walk with Betty before school in my new neighborhood and things are beginning to feel familiar.
Class was all about mortise & tenons yesterday & dovetails today. I know more than I did before my first class but lost some ground in the time between then and now. I like hearing it all again and the differences and the new information imparted by someone else's telling. The steps are methodical and I wish I could spend a whole day on each one, going deep:
1) Decide which piece will be the mortise and which will be the tenon. (How? What makes a board good for one over the other? The grain of the wood? The color, flaws? What are considered flaws, good color? Is there more strength in the verticle piece or the horizontal?)
This is where I lack familiarity, and realize only experience will grant that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back Down East

I have returned to Maine for the 12-week Intensive class at the Center for Furniture Crafts manship in Rockport. I am staying with the host I stayed with in June in her Camden home with her old dog, Indie. They have both graciously welcomed Betty, too. It was early June when I was here before, daylight from 5a.m. til 9p.m., balmy early summer temps, lupine blooming everywhere a seed could wedge into dirt. Now it is cold, it snowed a bit yesterday, this morning there was barely daylight at 7 when I woke to let Betty out and headlights were on when I left the parking lot at 5 this evening. The tourists have disappeared, beautiful huge sailboats are weirdly, white shrink-wrapped in the harbor.
Returning to school today was a relief. I was anxious, but as soon as I arrived and greeted by Dorrie from the office, I felt just happy. My June teacher (and director of the school) addressed and welcomed the class.The teacher for this class, Tim Rousseau is a calm, instructive, funny, attentive, confident. The assistants are wonderful, too. All pros. The first 2 weeks will be a review of the class I took in June, which is just fine with me. On this very first day I feel like I learned a million more things.
This picture is Lake Pythonga in Quebec where I was a week and a half ago. Between then and now there were so many demands on me I am surprised I am not sick. I want to concentrate on only this now. After months of wondering (and worrying) I finally know that I have done the right thing. I can't wait til tomorrow.