Showing posts with label boxes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label boxes. Show all posts

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The saga of learning to make dovetail joints

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who woodworked. She made some prototype shelves and wanted them to be better.

She spent a lot of time researching woodworking techniques and decided that dovetail joints were the way forward.

She watched some tutorials on Youtube, all by men who were experienced woodworkers. They made it look very easy to do and the finish was beautiful and just what she wanted for her handmade shelving.

The woman who woodworked bought some secondhand and new tools and put some of her school maths into action to work out the angles needed.

Then she began to practice. She soon realised that it was quite hard to do, nowhere near as easy as it looked on the tutorials.
She soon realised that she was NOT a natural when it came to being able to saw. In fact, it took her forever and she was very bad at it.
She perservered, as she wasn't a quitter.

After many, many, many failed attempts (left hand side of above photo) she finally ended up with one dovetail joint which didn't fall apart in her hands.
She was so pleased with herself she had a drink of wine to celebrate.

Then she looked closer at the joint and thought about how long it had taken, how many were needed for each shelf and at the actual size of the gaps.
She researched some more and then bought a dovetail jig and router, which do the job perfectly for her.
The end.
And, the moral of the story is, know when you are beaten and as this is destabled, when to stop flogging a dead horse.
Although that saying is actually very mean!

Monday, 24 August 2015

How I make my handmade shelving, Part One.

Handmade is often a time consuming process, filled with love and pleasant moments. Let me talk you through how I make my shelves.

I start with the wood itself. I have a lovely local timber merchant and they help me to pick out the pieces with lots of knots in. At first they thought I was a bit crazy, but now they recognise me and have given me a regular discount as they like my product! Shop local folks.

I'm looking for pieces of wood which have a range of knots, but not so many that the wood is weakened and which have knots in just the right places and in a range of sizes. I'm picky.

This was a great piece of wood. One of my favourites from my last batch. It's looking at me.

Then I measure and cut each piece. I make the decisions on size based on each piece of wood, and that is why no two shelves are ever the same, as no two pieces of wood are ever the same.

Here I am in action with my trusty jigsaw.

And then I end up with a pile of pieces of wood. Here, they are laid out in fours so I can make sure I have four sides that fit together. For this reason, the way the wood itself shapes the process, I tend to make quite a lot at once, rather than one by one.

Then it is time to drill the holes. This takes time. Quite a few minutes on each hole. I use different saws and some holes are bigger than others, depending on the size of the original knots.

This is quite a large knot, for example, so I would use quite a large hole. But can you see how the grain of the wood shapes around the knot? This carries on to my finished product and makes the hole in the shelf and the grain of the wood combine for a beautiful shelf.

Essentials - coffee and a drill. Love that they match colour wise.

This is part way through the drilling. Still looking at me.

This is what is removed. They are all different sizes depending on the knots removed. Sometimes I centre them, sometimes I feel they would look better slightly of-centre.

I make a lot of decisions during the process and this is why each shelf is unique.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Nancy and Nina

I've been working hard on finishing my Yourshelves at the moment. I mentioned in my last post that I have a deadline of my first craft fair and I'm getting there.

I also said a number of times that I wasn't going to put too much pressure on myself with this project and this blog, but the deadline has been really helpful.

I'm normally pretty organised at work (in terms of workload, not desk!) but am a bit all over the place at home. However I've been making to do lists for my evenings and sticking to them.

Yay me!

Here is a video I made about my Yourshelves. I will update this with some pictures of the finished product as soon as they are ready.

Spoiler alert - they are looking great! I'm super proud right now.

So enjoy Nancy and Nina.

Oh and super-proud-part-two I've managed (I say I but I had a lot of help on this one) to add facebook comments to this blog. So you can chat away to me and about me as easily as you could on facebook.
Talk to me. Please.
Not that I'm begging.
I am.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Some close ups of my colour wall of shelving

I posted about my living room and the way it has evolved over a couple of years last week. I then spoke to a friend who had read my post and she asked why I hadn't shown any close ups of my colour shelving.

I couldn't answer.

Sometimes when you live with something it becomes obvious and you forget to explain. I think that's it. Anyway when I got up eventually dragged myself out of bed on Sunday, the sun was shining in my front room so I got the camera out and took a few snaps.

The bookcases are colour co-ordinated because; One: I love the way they look and will always love it regardless of it being a trend that has had it's day and Two: I have a visual memory so often remember what something looks like rather than it's name. That works right up until I get to season DVD's where there may be 8 box sets of House or The West Wing and each is a different colour (and I can't remember which colour is season one or six usually).

The colour comes from books and DVD's and CD's and I have added ornaments that are travel mementoes, or gifts, or charity shop finds, or just little things that make me smile. I think of the colour wall as an evolving collection really.

Here in my red section is a sculpture I bought in Prague about 10 years ago, a small and very cheap replica Eiffel tower picked up in Paris and a hand carved wooden camel which was gifted to me by a very talented woodcarver in Marrakech. 

Here is one of my boxes in use. As they were prototypes I knew I wouldn't sell these ones but I wanted to use them somewhere, and I like to see them often. The little Russian Doll was bought in Poland, when I was interrailing (I spent 5 weeks travelling around Europe on a train when I was 21 with a friend, a rucksack and no plans) and could only bring back very small keepsakes.

Here we have a mix of a blue glass hanging bauble from a teeny shop in Egypt, Madonna Sculpture from Ireland, Handmade glass work from 5 miles down the road and exuberant-wizard-oil-burner (obvs) from a vintage market I used to organise. The little purple box is a mini music box which plays the Phantom of the Opera.

Another box and an example of the House & West Wing dilemma mentioned above.

Tassels from Morrocco, cross from a church in Bury St Edmunds I think. By the way most of these items were fairly cheap, a few pounds here and there usually. The tassels were only £1. I don't think you need to always spend lots to have lovely things around you. I also think you don't need to plan it. If you just buy what you love, and only what you love, it will all work together somehow.

The Birdcage is a kit from a steam punk market which I put together myself, sat on top of a bespoke jigsaw which was a gift from a friend, another sculpture with wings (I do like wings!) this time from Egypt, and the candle was a gift

Homer here overseeing the dreams book and other completely un-linked books and a small angel from a charity shop. Did I mention I like things with wings.

Another box, with books and lamp inside. This is just a few of my colllection of well loved, well read, vintage Agatha Christie books. In front of the box, just seen, is a small replica of the Amphitheatre in Pula, Croatia, a collection of three miniature glass bottles and a box containing a Whitby Glass Lucky Duck.

Here is a Tord Boontje vase which I adore, a ceramic white bear (as my husband and I had our first date in a pub called The White Bear) and a skull from Alton Towers.

This is just a random scary ghost plastic item but it fits really well here, where some of the books are slightly smaller than the others. Is it a Scooby doo baddie?


Flower paperweight and you can just see another box underneath. I love the way this pink, Eton Mess by Fired Earth looks so different from day to night.

Here is a small elephant collection with pieces from Egypt and a car boot sale. I had a pretty decent amount of luggage in Egypt! I think as I love travel souvenirs so much, it's now worth paying for luggage so I can bring amazing things back.

Here are just a few CD's and a small picture. These last shelves are pretty awkward to get things to stay on so I changed it up by keeping them fairly empty.
All the shelves have been painted white unless they came like that originally, like the Billy bookcases. I originally wanted to have something built in but I like the higgledy-piggledy look and some of the bookcases are melamine from the 1970's so it would be a shame to get rid of it really.
I need room to grow too as I am always finding new books and I do keep the ones I intend to re-read, the books that are the most brilliant or moving or which help me to grow, which is a lot. Husband just keeps them all so the bookshelves will continue to expand over time.
As I have said before I am a maximalist and love to be surrounded by lovely things that bring back memories of great stories and my own personal adventures. Every time I look at these shelves I smile.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Untied Shelving?

Today I'd like to share an update on my shelving ideas.


I shared my prototypes a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to say now thanks for the amazing response. Lots of people have read that post, and it's now my most popular one. In case you missed it, you can read it here.

Thanks dear readers.

Following on from making the prototypes I started to really think about how to describe them. I'm casting around in this part of my journal, thinking about selling points and trying to take me somewhere I can choose a name.

Some ideas so far include; Knit-Knots, The Detangled shelf, Mantle-Niche and Frippery Frame. They are just not right for me. I'm not a perfectionist but I want a name that is memorable and describes my design and is easy to spell.

My current favourite it Untied Shelving. As I remove the knots, I think it describes the process and I want something a bit different. I'd love to know your thoughts about this.

There is an Eddie Izzard sketch I love where he talks about Engelbert Humperdink and how they came up with his name. It's funny and he describes it as a stroky-beard meeting. That's what I need. A group of people with long beards to sit around a table with me and shout random words out.

I'll get there. I really-really hope so anyway. I've liked Untied Shelving for about a week now, so it might just stick!

Back to selling points, I want to work out the good bits of my product and learn to communicate those.

I'm a big fan of colour. You've probably worked that out already? I do however spend a lot of time in rooms that are oh-so-tasteful-and-oh-so-graceful but often the owners want a splash of brightness or a subtle hint of colour. Add one of my products and hey presto - instant colour.

Did you know that a bright splash of colour always draws the eye. Red, in particular. Put one bright item in a pastel room and it will make you look wherever it is. It's a great way to make people look at the best spaces in a room and detract from the less amazing areas. For example, if you have a great view from your window, maybe think of adding a bright vase or some bright curtains to really draw attention to this.

Although I just said I'm a big fan of colour, I'm an even bigger fan of natural light. The best photography tips I've read include never using a flash and always working with the natural light. I even hate blackout curtains and prefer to sleep in a light filled room as it just makes my spirit soar. Husband does not agree, so I've mostly caved in and for the sake of a happy life we have the dreaded blackout curtains.

I wanted to make something that can be used in lots of ways. I like them stacked and individually used and have used my prototypes in my house that way. I like items that can be tailor made for whatever space you want to use them in.

Most of all I want Untied Shelving to be something that you can inject your own personality on, something that could work for almost any space and any person. 

I like the idea of taking time to create something special. These are handmade, individual products - each one is unique - no mass production or manufacturing here. It's me and some-wood and some-tools and some-paint and some-wool and some-time.

The shadow play is an important aspect for me. It comes from my trip to Marrakech and the inspiration is from Moroccan lanterns and how they make a space feel more interesting and unique. 

Finally they need to be practical too - who doesn't need shelves. How may rooms do you have shelves in? What about campervans?
So that's where I'm up to at the moment. Still enjoying the process and still feeling optimistic and happy about the future.
What's next?
Stroky beard meeting to organise.
See if I can learn dovetail joints.
Investigate how I can add light to them.
Keep blogging.
Finish off some of the other projects I mentioned last week.