Friday, 11 January 2019

A bit of basketry and pyrography

I don't like to waste the long dark evenings so I have been turning my hand to a couple of new skills.
Pyrography Signs
The pyrography signs for the veg plot are coming along nicely. Getting them all done will be a long term project.
I am in no way artistic. The process for making these is slow and methodical.
First I produce the signs on a computer (pictures are from image searches, narrowed down to line art) and print them out.
Next I trace them onto the wood using graphite paper.
Finally I burn in the letters and pictures with a pyrography pen. This is a slow process, somewhat reminiscent of trying to colour in a picture using a felt tip pen which has all but run out of ink.
The final step is to give the signs some protection for outside. For this I am using three coats of Danish oil.
Signs for the veg plot ready for cutting and treating.
In front, 3 willow fat feeders. These are very simple to make. 
All I need to do now is mix some seed with some fat and hang up the feeders.

Basketry bird feeders
When I'm not making my signs, I have started to make bird feeders out of willow. These are straight from a book I purchased. These projects are giving me an excellent opportunity to develop my skills in willow weaving. They use the same skills as are required for making larger baskets, but they are a little more intricate. I am using purchased buff willow for these projects. This is willow which has been boiled and then stripped of its bark. The boiling process releases tannins from the bark which stains the willow rods.
So far I have made fat feeders, a cone shaped seed feeder and a barrel feeder. I hope the birds appreciate my efforts.

I am very pleased with this barrel feeder
I have filled this cone feeder with 
meal worms and mixed seed.
Finally I'd like to show you a picture of my poultry pen. It may help you imagine the smallholding as you read about it. This is where my 'sentimental flock' live. They are the ones which, financially speaking,  I shouldn't really keep any longer. Between them they have not laid an egg for several months now.

But in their day they were very productive. Among them lives Elvis, the oldest bird who has served many years hatching out chicks for us and has been here longer than we have. All the rest were born here on the smallholding. They don't cost much to keep and they still scratch around in the orchard performing my pest control for me.
In amongst the chickens live the final two guinea fowl from my waning flock alongside my breeding trio of Muscovy ducks who produce a few birds each year which we take for the table.

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