Unseasoned Wood Items (Green Wood).
Green wood pieces like fairy houses and chainsaw carvings are generally made from freshly felled
unseasoned stock. Some exterior pieces can be left to shrink and crack naturally, such as the fairy
houses and mushrooms, (a benefit to climbing plants); while chainsaw carvings made from straight logs
get a "relief cut" down the length of the log at the back. This allows any shrinkage to occur, and
only the relief cut alters in width over the years. I'll also supply unassembled and unfinished components
if you like the idea of doing some artwork yourself, or I'll smooth, sand, stain and varnish as much as you want.
It all depends on what you have in mind for your garden.
Seasoned Wood Items.
These are things like trinket boxes, candle sticks and smaller delicate turnings intended to be used
indoors, and which are usually supplied finished. Turnings get waxed, varnished, stained or painted,
but I'll supply them unfinished if creativity is your thing.
If I'm just making pieces for pleasure, I try to keep all job times to under ten hours,
with most under seven and maybe a few pieces that take four or less hours. This sets the price range of items.
Each piece is valued at its workshop time, plus the cost of sourcing the wood. Most green wood arrives in my shed
for just the cost of the time and effort to go and collect it. It comes from tree fellers that are more than happy
when someone like me helps shift it out of their way. Seasoned wood comes from conventional suppliers, but I generally
only make smaller items from it, so it's contribution to costs is also quite minimal.
Take a look at the following sections for more information, and if you have any questions just email
me, or message me on Facebook.
Fairy Houses and Other Garden Follies
Hand made solid wood ornamental fairy houses and garden follies.
Each one is unique. Various styles available, from the smallest single door house,
to bigger logs getting more features to fill the available space. Windows, mushrooms, rain barrels and drainpipes,
provide everything a pixie could need for a home at the bottom of your garden.
I'll happily make them bigger too if you want, like the Pixie Pub, which would have a rain barrel, six beer barrels, windows, mushrooms and the pub sign, all on a
forked branch node with multiple roofs.
I'll also come along and model an existing tree stump, as long as it's a stump up here on The Wirral.
The roof and chimney are painted with coloured acrylic exterior wood preservative, doors and window fixtures are
gloss varnished, but water based can be used throughout on request, if like me you have garden pets that might
chew on them. The finishes are designed to preserve the character of the structure, whilst the log itself can be
overgrown with moss or miniature climbing plants.
My carvings are usually designed with an English garden in mind. Made from logs in the region of 10 to 14 inches diameter, at about 2 or 3 feet tall. At this size
they are quite heavy but they are still quite easily moved. Conversely, our friend the panda is much too big,
and was made from extremely tough hardwood. I thought a twenty inch diameter, five foot long log of solid ash would just leap out of the way of my chainsaw blade.
Not so. Like the oak root ball I made my first tortoise from, it was hard as nails, and I spent longer sharpening chainsaw blades than cutting with them.
However, if like me you love shaped hardwood, I'll carve the largest and toughest pieces before I'd ever see it chipped into mulch.
Finishes vary from piece to piece. Usually a bear gets the "lighter nose, darker fur"
colour scheme, but if a piece of wood is particularly full
of character, with nice grain markings or some spalting, then I finish it with a clear coating. Most pine and poplar logs are actually quite
dull in character, so coloured preservative makes a vast improvement as well as adding protection. Pieces can be tweaked and decided on
as they progress, like a house number or name on a "welcome bear"
... plus, it's
never too late to add a giant hazelnut.
Mushrooms occupy the middle ground between chainsaw carvings and fairy houses. They are a simple shape to cut, and look super-cute with some of the
features of a fairy house. They get a wavy, carved and turned chimney stack painted like brickwork, a big door and window, and a rain barrell if there's room.
A small pixie house mushroom takes a couple of hours to make and paint, the biggest I make takes about 6 hours. They all consume a fair amount of log as
they are made from two pieces with increasing diameters.
The pixie house versions can be made to just plug together, so they can be separated for repainting every two of three years. Plain mushrooms can be
bolted together into one heavy item. Painted spotty mushrooms reduce in price considerably if you want to paint them yourself. I paint the mid sized and small
ones with just red and white standard exterior gloss. Strangely, Hunny Bunny our rabbit likes to perch on a big mushroom, whereas the guinea pigs like to hide in
the little wooden houses pictured in the "Other, Weirder Stuff"
Other, Weirder Stuff
This is the everything else section. It covers: one off carvings, animal houses, cute little heart shaped boxes and any
lathe work in all its forms. Candle sticks, keepsake boxes, tea light holders and some bowl turnings that range from the
conventional to the slightly weird. Turned bowls, long carved dough bowls and natural edge bowls cut from the fork
in a tree branch.
These handmade items are beautiful, special and robust. They are sometimes purely ornamental, and sometimes functional. Like using a keepsake box as
a storage place for important and cherished items, so you never forget where you put your keys again, or to keep jewellery stored separately. I generally make a few at a time
and usually have a choice of sizes. Generally, a small pot for keys with no lid would only take a few minutes even if it was hardwood. Something with a lid,
like I use to stash my supply of Haribo Jelly Babies would take around 1.5 hours.
About here in the Other Stuff
category things get a little weirder. For example, the HP Sauce bottle you've been looking at, that's pretty weird.
It's a graduation gift I made for a student. It's wood, turned on a lathe and painted, then a little wooden mortar board was fixed on top.
The engraved plaque was a few quid from a local engraver, and has the regular name, year, and achievement details, but the label sides are full of HP Sauce rhetoric.
It's a cheeky little copyright infringing "HP Sauce turns a maths degree into a man's (or woman's) degree" diatribe printed where the label's
small print should be, and the ingredients list has been funnied up a bit.
It will last forever because it is infinitely repairable. The wood is just wood, the paint is just paint and the label art is just
a nice quality digital printout. I could have used an actual bottle of HP Sauce. It's quite resistant to damage, and easily
replaceable, but the label lets it down. A real bottle of HP Sauce could also potentially last forever, because the student guy really hates the stuff.
Anyway... I went for the hand made, beautifully finished object of real affection, that justified the three hours of my time which this really quite ridiculous thing consumed.
Obviously, if you work for HP, (the sauce company, not the computer company) I'm only making a generic wooden bottle shape here, and how anyone gets a spare copy of the everlasting
Photoshopped label emailed to them is a complete mystery to me.
Also quite weird is an overly large chess set, which I would love someone to commission a copy of, just to find out how much it would cost to reproduce. I made it on a home made lathe years ago, but now I have a nice little Sheppach, so I can work faster than using
a 1/3rd horsepower washing machine motor bolted to a chunk of goalpost.
Oh happy days... dangerous days, but happy.
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