A little bit of Sign envy amongst friends…

GlastonBees (Ian) and Restless Landscapes (Kate) work together on quite a few projects.  We also attend markets and stalls to show to the world what we do.

A few years ago I needed to make some signs for a large project that I had.  This led me to find some plans on the internet to make a Pantograph.  It was a steep learning curve to get the desired results but after an ode to resilience, it was achieved.

A little while later I decided to make myself a sign which I would take with me to markets and stalls as a GlastonBees sign.  This created (or so I believe anyway) some sign envy.  It took some time for this sign envy to show itself but when it did, there were rumours of a sign as a commission for Restless Landscapes.

It took some time for a final design to appear, partly because the ideas that I heard had far surpassed all of my previous sign making projects, meaning that I was unsure of the physical limitations of the Pantograph.

Commission... making a sign, prep workThrough a little negotiation, the design was agreed.  This was going to be the biggest yet, and the most detailed.  My understanding of the limitations of the pantograph kind of had some influence on the size of the final design but this was going to the limit and maybe even beyond.

I really dislike laser cutting and CNC routers when used for craft, as I feel they take some skill away from creating beautiful items; however this project would have been no problem for either of them.  I prefer the pantograph as it will scale down to either a half or a third of the size of the given template; it needs a lot of setting up and excellent hand and eye coordination whilst using it.

Commission... making a sign with the pantographThe final design arrived and required printing out.  It took 24 sheets of A4 paper, which all needed laminating, trimming and taping together.  When it was assembled, the pure scale of the sign became even more daunting, due to the anticipation of repositioning the template and the piece of wood.

I needed a piece of wood to bring this design to life; it wasn’t just the size that I was thinking of but also the colour and markings of the grain.  Thankfully several months ago I purchased a rather large piece of Sycamore with plans for great things which have yet to come into fruition, this project seemed to fit this piece of Sycamore perfectly.

Commission... making a sign, painting timeThe Sycamore was too big a piece of wood for my tools, so after a couple of phone calls, me and the Sycamore were on our way to a timber mill to use their much more capable tools.  After a little time on the Band saw and Thicknesser I had two pieces of beautiful Sycamore to take home.

In my workshop I trimmed one of the pieces of sycamore down to the required size using a Radial Arm Saw and Table Saw before taking it back to the Pantogaph.

Commission... making a sign, painting timeThe actual set up took much thought.  As a child my father taught me to measure twice and cut once, but this job required measure twice, triple check and then after careful placement, check again.

The cutting out of the design took almost 5 hours; this was due to the constant repositioning of both template and Sycamore as I still had to work within the limitations of the Pantograph.  It worked better than anticipated; I pushed my known boundaries and ended up with an extremely beautiful half-finished project.

The sign required 3 different colours for the design.  So it was time to tape over certain parts and get the spray paint out.  To speed things along I used a hairdryer to dry the paint in between coats.

Commission... making a sign, sanding timeAfter all of the painting was finished, I needed to use a sanding machine to remove the excess paint.  It took a bench top belt sander, a portable belt sander and a palm orbital sander to complete the removal of the paint and to finish the surface of all sides of the sign to a smooth finish.

A truly momentous project which in total took me approximately 10 hours from printing out the design to the last bit of sanding, required the use of 3 separate wood workshops, exceeded and made new boundaries and no idea how much time Kate took with the actual design process.

Commission... making a sign almost finishedThe sign envy has shown itself again, this time on my doorstep.

Scroll Saw Madness

As a supplier to the beekeeping world, and due to its seasonality, there are times when I can focus on other work.

A visit to the 2014 Treefest event held at Westonbirt Arboretum was on the cards this year.  There were plenty of opportunities to see what other people from around the UK do with varying sizes and different types of wood.  There was an abundance of stalls, which to me personally, looked very similar but there were two stalls in particular which stood out.

These two stalls used a certain type of tool which is able to produce amazing results.  The tool in question is a Scroll Saw.  Seeing the work they produced inspired me to give it another go.

I already have a Scroll saw but it has been gathering a lot of dust, with offcuts placed on top of it in the workshop.  I retrieved it from the workshop monster and began to get to grips with it again.

I struggled to use my Scroll Saw previously, which is why it was put away, but seeing how it was done at Treefest helped me realise the potential these machines have, in the right hands that is.

After fighting with my Scroll saw recently and losing too many times, I decided to invest in another one; this was an outstanding decision and I have not looked back since.

So I purchased a Diamond Scroll saw, which is approximately 30 years old, probably the best machine to get due to its diversity in its use.  The blades are easier to change, it has the ability to use different types of blades if needs be, can work with much bigger pieces of work, has a variable speed motor but best of all, it has a foot pedal which when I use the machine, sounds like a sewing machine which I believe is just fantastic.

Scroll Saw

Scroll saw

For the upcoming autumn / winter madness of attending Christmas craft events and markets, whilst I wait in anticipation for the next surge in Beehive sales, it will be a very busy time for the new to me anyway Diamond Scroll saw, producing new and interesting craft.  The ideas are already starting to flow, just need more offcuts.  I will post more photos of my work soon.

Western Red Cedar Tree silhouette Western Red Cedar Wales Country outline Oak Elephant Silhouette Ash tree silhouettes

Please take a seat…

Hello again, how are you today?  Just thought that I would keep you updated with some of my adventures.  Recently I was asked if I would refurbish a couple of benches for a family. After thinking about it for a few moments, it was decided to see what I can do.

When I saw the benches, it became apparent that they were looking a little worse for wear and needed a little care.  The first job on my list was to retrieve the benches from the customers home without a certain someone who lived there knowing about it. These benches have sentimental value to the family, so their longevity was of the utmost important and I wanted to do an excellent job for them.

Upon my arrival at home I had a closer look at what work was needed, it was decided to replace all of the wood with new, brush back all of the wrought iron, straighten the metal supports, followed by a spot of paint and replace all of the bolts, nuts, washers and screws.

After a few hours of scrubbing the metal down with a giant metal toothbrush whilst making some callouses on my hands, I paid a little visit to an annoyingly expense shop to purchase some hammerite spray paint.  Two tins must be enough, surely…

In between the coats of paint drying, I started on replacing the wooden slats.  Inside my wood shelter were some pieces of Larch that were just crying out to be used.  So after a visit to the table saw, the Larch was cut into slats awaiting the next part of their transformation.

Now it was time to visit the planer and thicknesser.  This will give the wood a nice smooth finish to the wood, and show off its lovely peachy coloured grain.  After the wood has gone through the thicknesser it is time to visit the table saw again to have their final cuts to ensure they fit perfectly on the bench.

Holes were then drilled in the wooden slats for the new 6mm thick bolts, followed by countersinking the holes.  Time now for me to switch on the concentration.  Each piece of the wood needed to be exactly the same, the holes and countersinks needed to be in the correct place to ensure a lovely finish to the benches when completed.

Back to do a spot of painting again, and the sudden realisation that the two tins of spray paint will not be enough.  So another visit was needed to the annoyingly expensive shop to purchase another two tins of hammerite paint.  

Once the painting and wood work was done, all that was left for me to do was to reassemble them and return them to their rightful owners.

I am very pleased to report that they absolutely love their benches… What do you think of them?

First find some wood… Then add a bit of love…

And so my mind merrily wanders towards making beautiful things from wood, I want people to love wooden items but also, so that they can share them with friends and family.

At this time of year (January), valentines day is just around the corner.  From looking around the workshop for wood to use, seeing items that people like and listening to ideas from friends and family… It’s time to put pencil to wood and wood to blade and await the smiles to appear on their faces.

After looking for wood to use, I find such wonderfully smelling: Oak; Cherry; Ash; Lime; Larch; Acacia and Western Red Cedar (WRC)…

Cue the music…

Firstly I must remind you of an admiration, maybe a fascination that sheep bring to me.  Please refrain from any welsh jokes at present, I will be finished soon enough.

After rattling my brain about the singular and plural definitions of sheep, it was decided to make a small flock of sheep. So these little lovelies are made from: Ash; Oak; Cherry and WRC.

I love ewe… WRC ewe

L – R Cherry ewe, Oak ewe, WRC ewe and Ash ewe
I love ewe

We then head towards some of the lovely, hearty items with hearts galore.
Love on the fridge

Making Love on the band saw
You pair of love birds

What are your thoughts on these??

Something you would like to give to a loved one??

If so stop by the GlastonBees website and get in touch… See you soon

Me, Myself and the Trees

Mentioned in the previous post were a little about trees…  With a want, or maybe even a need, for me to expand in exploring and sharing their beauty.

I wanted to keep you updated and have found that, everywhere I have travelled during this winter period I have not been able to walk or drive past woodland, copse or single trunk without admiring their presence and structure and wonder how I can celebrate them better.

So with just a spare piece of wood and a pencil in front of me I began to look at a the trees that were around me.  After applying pencil to wood and just feeling for what felt right my hand began to draw.  

Immediately after the first one was drawn it was sent to the scroll saw to see what I can do with a blade, it wasn’t long until it was finished.

Marvellous, beautiful, proud, yet they will be soooo much better next time…  Thoughts of other types of trees with their differing shapes and sizes were springing to the forefront of my mind.    

Now into double figures with the amount of trees I’ve created, there are the beginnings of my own woodland… No two trees are the same, which in reality makes a lot of sense when thinking about what factors influence their growth.
When I was a young boy growing up, I was quite often found climbing up into a tree, I always loved sitting on a high branch and looking at the world around me, enjoying my new perspective.  Falling was seldom an issue, sometimes a branch snapped under my weight (sorry tree) but whilst reflecting upon this now, a respect for trees has always been with me.  
Trees are unbelievably multifunctional, They produce oxygen which gives life, they are homes to so much wildlife, they produce shade to keep us cool and can be burnt to keep us warm.  Their qualities can be realised in so many other ways, such as: bow and arrows to catch food;  guitars to entertain; furniture; building shelters; transportation, I could go on, but the list is exhaustive. 
Thoughts of different styles and how to present them are still running through my mind, so only time will tell what other creations will appear from me.

I promise to keep you posted.

Honey bees… looking for love

Honey bees… looking for love
Dammit… Where has this year gone??  I do not really remember the summer but winter is most certainly knocking at the door.

With winter comes the retrieval of the thick coats, alpaca hats, kayaking down rivers, the holiday season and the madness that it brings with it, and with that madness comes a surge in the production of crafts from my workshop.  All of those offcuts of Western Red Cedar (WRC) that have been filling up every available space all year and thus annoying me are slowly leaving after a transformation into something Christmassy (ish).

Honestly…  I should of been thinking about Christmas crafts during the summer but since I am not able to recall a Welsh summer in 2012 I will just plough on with making items to sell at the remaining stalls that I will be attending this year.

As a person who appreciates the environment and our wildlife, my theme just had to be Nature… but how can one sum up Christmas and Nature from several bags of Western Red Cedar offcuts??  

I rattled my brains (which was more of a hindrance rather than helpful to be honest) and “keep it simple” kept springing to the forefront of my mind.

“Impressed” is what I’m thinking about myself this year, to be able to produce in a very short turn around period a collection of multifunctional gifts.  All of the items which are WRC also have the added value of being a moth repellent during the warmer months next year.


Have you ever really looked at a tree??  I mean really look at a tree, there is something so fascinating about them, their shape, how they compete with each other, how they provide so, so much for our wildlife, how much they change in a season.  I think I will make more trees to capture and exploit their beauty, just cannot seem to get them out of my head.  There are already much bigger plans evolving in my mind (as I’m typing, and yes it is distracting).

Trees and their fascinating shapes
Then there are these boxes, lots of time and effort have gone into producing these.  The wood smells amazing, the joints are perfect and I just love the ideas people come up with to utilise them. 

The Christmassy craft is upon us, so a lovely selection of tree decorations were made but they looked so sad laying down in their respective bundles.  TREE… TREE… TREE… I kept hearing, so a proud Black tree has sprung into existence, for them to lure in customers glancing eyes.

My very own Tree 

So much hassle keeping these giant Honey bees and dwarf Reindeer apart

Finally, there has been certain bespoke items requested, fortunately my imagination and design was allowed to run loose.  Again the “Nature” theme was paramount but for the items that they requested, I think practicality was essential.  So I give you these small but perfectly formed door stops which have my lovely “Burnt Bees” on them.  
Practicality prevails when making wedges for a wonderful valued customer

And last but by certainly no means least… I bring you a Tofu Press…  For the wonderful person who asked for this, my thoughts were drawn to personalisation and the extra effort would really make a difference here.  I have never drawn a butterfly before, well not an accurate one anyhow but since I decided to use pyrography to produce this butterfly, then it best be a great one…  

Mission successful (me thinks)  

Good night everyone
Nos da bawb

P.S If you wish to get in touch please follow the links below to the relevant website.  My contact details are highly visible. 

Thank you

www.glastonbees.co.uk                  Facebook                       Twitter 

Tofu Press, personalised with this beautiful butterfly