Archive for the ‘woodworking’ Category

Shopcam: Chance Meeting

In the early spring, when there was still snow on the ground, Rick was coming down from installing cabinets at a new small cabin up the Gunn Ranch Rd north of Winthrop.  Someone had skidded off the road and was high-centered in the ditch, so he stopped to see if he could help.  A couple in another car also stopped (the folks in the ditch wound up calling AAA).  He got into a conversation with the couple in the other car, and found out they had just bought a place up the Chewuch and were out scouting where they could go to ski and snowshoe.

When this fellow found out Rick was a professional woodworker, he got all excited because he had some huge oak slabs at the family home in northern California that he needed to get up here and eventually have some furniture built from.  He told Rick in a later email that:

“The family home was burned down during the devastating 2015 Valley Fire in Lake County CA.  There were three incredible Valley oaks surrounding the house.  We were told they were 300-400 years old.  Two of them were slabbed and stickered in the Fall of 2015.  The third was slabbed and stickered a few weeks ago (arborist wanted to confirm that it wasn’t going to make it).  Slabs are 12-16 feet long, 3-5 feet wide and 4 inches thick.”
Also sent some pictures:

Family home with valley oak before the fire

One of the trees being slabbed

Getting the slabs up here was a daunting task.  Roll forward to this month.  He found a guy who would drive the load up here and deliver it to one of the local lumberyards, for eventual transport up to his own place.  This happened a couple of weeks ago and here are a few more pictures of the very beautiful wood:

the truck arrives!

The next step was getting together with a local sawyer, who has the ability to re-saw and dimension the big slabs.  They still need to dry longer, especially the one that was more recently slabbed, so it will be a while before this moves forward into a furniture-building project.

But it is such a great story so far – how a chance meeting led to such an interesting project.  A real “twisp of fate”.


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We stopped by Confluence Gallery in Twisp this morning to see how the new show looks.  They did a great job, as usual!  Here is the poster for the show, which runs July 1 – August 5.  That’s my dearly beloved in the center picture.

Basically they paired Mary Lou Harris’s photos (taken in our studios) with examples of our work.  There are 10 artists involved.  Here are a few general shots:

Jeremy Newman & Allison Ciancibelli, blown glass;  Hannah Viano, prints and paper cutouts

Robin Nelson Wicks, clay figures

Nicole Ringold, jewelry and Perri Howard, mixed media

Barry Stromberger, metal work

Rick Swanson, woodworker, and Ken LIbby, photography on metal

Katie Swanson, weaver

Rick’s special piece for this show is the coffee table made from Oregon walnut that he has had in his wood stash for 25 or more years.  He is calling it the Hologram Table, because as you walk around it various sections change from light to dark, depending on how the fabulous grain is picking up the light.



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Shopcam: Small Tables

Here’s a quick look at what Rick has been working on in the shop.  We are both submitting work for the upcoming show at Confluence Gallery titled “Hearth”.  The work needs to be there this coming weekend and they will set up next week for the opening on Sept 3rd.

He had an order for a side table and made a second one for the show.  The one on the left is the custom order and has a cherry base with beech top and shelves.  The one on the right is for the Hearth show and has a shedua base with birds-eye maple top and shelves.  It is gorgeous!P1010154

He also finished up this coffee table – the top has been done for a while, but he hadn’t figured out what to do for the base until the last couple of days.  Talk about working under pressure!  The wood is afrormosia (sometimes spelled afromosia).  He set an antique floor grate into the top, with a piece of smoked plate glass over that.  It has ebony pegs in the top and the base where the cross-pieces come through.


He is taking them to a photographer today for studio shots.


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Built-ins and Boucle

This coming Saturday, July 23,  I will be at D*signs Gallery and Twisted Knitters in Twisp in the first of the “featured artist” events they are planning for Saturdays this summer.  I’ll be there from 10-2 (ish) so come on down if you are here!  109B Glover Street, across from Cinnamon Twisp Bakery and Glover Street Market.  D*signs carries my rugs, and Twisted Knitters has my patterns, handknit items and some of my handspun yarn.  I will be bringing some other things that aren’t usually there, like the new woven shawls I talk about below.

First the “shopcam” update – Rick finished the built-in chest of drawers and bookcases in our master bedroom.  The chest of drawers is deeper than it looks, as it extends back into the storage area behind, which is accessible from the walk-in closet.  The wood is cherry and he made his signature Macassar ebony handles for this one.

bedroom built-ins July 2016 1

I am currently weaving some shawls using lovely hand-painted kid mohair boucle yarn for the warp.  From deep stash!  The first set of 4 shawls was in tones of blue, with black alpaca as the weft on 2 of them, and blue organic wool as the weft on the other 2.  The yarn was a handpaint from Naturally of New Zealand that has long been discontinued.  I also put in stripes of Kidsilk Haze (or equivalent) every 3 inches.  I think it makes them more interesting.


Yesterday I put on a new shawl warp using mainly Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Boucle, which appears to be discontinued now.   This has been in my stash for a while and I think this is a good use for it.  I used 4 different colorways plus one of the old ones from Naturally of New Zealand.  I didn’t feel I had the best colors for the wefts so am waiting on an order from Jaggerspun to arrive next week before I start actually weaving these.


And here are some yarns set out for contemplation for a third set:


I haven’t done this type of shawl for about 3 years and it has been fun to get back to them again.  Once my stash of handpaint boucle and mohair yarns is used up, though, this will be the end of it.

I have also woven some rugs using my new selvage material that I got down at Pendleton, Oregon on our recent trailer trip.

Custom order runner - 11 feet long!

Custom order runner – 11 feet long!

Fun with bright colors

Fun with bright colors


Custom order for another friend

Custom order for another friend



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Rick just finished a walnut coffee table using a plank of Oregon claro walnut that he had kicking around the shop for about 25 years.  For the legs he used leftover pieces from a kitchen he just did for a house in Twisp.  These were from a homestead tree down in Wenatchee that had been through a wildfire.  One of the pieces had a big split down the middle which he had to separate to keep the leg stable.  When he did that, he found an actual walnut embedded in the crack – the tree must have grown around it.  He managed to glue it back in there when he fashioned the leg!



P1000830Our friends in Wenatchee stopped by last weekend on their way into the valley for some skiing.  They fell in love with this table and are buying it, so it will never see the inside of a gallery.  We are taking it to them tomorrow when we go down for a medical appointment.

On the weaving front, I put a warp on Kingston, the 32″ Macomber at home, to do my guild “challenge” project.   It needs to be finished by the April 15 meeting and this year it is a color challenge.  We each drew an envelope with a color photograph, and the challenge is to weave something using at least 4 colors from the photograph, and no others.  My picture is of cherry tomatoes on the vine, laid out on a wicker basket.

I had colors in 8/2 cotton from WEBS that worked but it took me a while to decide what sort of thing to weave.  I didn’t want to do a towel for some reason.  Then I remembered a project in Handwoven magazine last Nov/Dec that used a Bateman Boulevard draft to make fabric for a tablet sleeve.  I really liked the mid-century modern look of that fabric and decided to accomplish 2 things – my color challenge, and an exploration of the Boulevard weave to see where it might lead me.

I wound up with 4 napkins for the challenge part, and have warp left on the loom to try some variations.  There are 4 colors in the warp – 2 greens, a warm brown, and tobacco.  When weaving, I used the red-orange for the pattern weft and one of the warp colors for the tabby weft.  So the four napkins are each a slightly different color, and it was good to see what changing the tabby weft did to the overall color of the fabric.



I have also kept up with spinning, inspired by my time up on Orcas Island in February.

A 3-ply yarn using 3 rovings from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks.  Two of them were merino/tencel and one was wool/bombyx silk, but all three were dyed in the same Autumn colorway.


A 2-ply yarn using 4 oz. of Bluefaced Leicester purchased many years ago from Chameleon Colorworks.P1000833

On Saturday we are off for a week-long vacation to Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula, and then to Port Townsend and LaConner.  Can’t wait!!

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More Shopcam

Rick just finished a walnut coffee table for our friends in Portland, OR.  They had been given the board used for the top – it was from Michael Elkan, a longtime friend and incredible woodworker and designer, who sadly passed away over a year ago.  For the end pieces (legs) Rick used some other spectacular walnut from a tree down south of Wenatchee, left over from a kitchen job he worked on last year.




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Rick is just finishing a sideboard for some clients who live up the road from us and have been doing a remodel to their log home.  They wanted something that would fit in with the style of the house, but using interesting wood.  It is cherry and with birdseye maple panels.


The top was made from some beautiful quartersawn cherry that we picked up on a sojourn to Specialty Forest Products south of Kent, WA a couple of weeks ago.  Rick was hoping to find some 8/4 cherry (2″ thick rough) with nice figure, and was thrilled that they had a whole sling of the quartersawn, which is hard to find.


Here it is with the interior lighting turned on.  The lighting is LED strips, individually dimmable, with all the wiring completely hidden.


The birdseye panels are from the wood we picked up from Ken Richards in Maple Valley a couple of months ago.  I wrote about this in a former post.

P1000648The lower cabinet has pullout drawers for wine storage, and he is waiting to get the glass for the upper cabinet doors and shelves.  I will get some more pictures when we deliver and install it early next week.

On the home front, we are concerned about the weight of the snow load on our roof, especially in the valleys.  But there isn’t much we can do as it is frozen solid up there!

snowload Feb 2016

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Yesterday we made a run over to the west side with the truck and utility trailer to get some birdseye maple from a friend who lives in Maple Valley (SE of Seattle).  Rick needs some of the wood for a job that he hopes to complete before Christmas, and we were running up against winter weather for getting over the passes.  In fact, there was a storm forecast to come in by last night.  We had smooth sailing – bare and dry over Blewett Pass and bare and wet over Snoqualmie.  We left at 8 am and got home around 7 pm.

Ken Richards is an incredible woodworker.  Way, way beyond almost anything I have ever seen.  Check out Ken Richards: The Art of Fine Furniture for a closer look!  He was working on a commission for a client that he estimated would take 13 months to complete.

Rick & Ken Richards with the piece underway

Rick & Ken Richards with the piece underway

When we reached Winthrop last night it was just starting to snow.  There were a couple of inches on the ground when we went to bed.  This morning we awoke to this:

First snowfall for winter 2015!

First snowfall for winter 2015!

Fortunately, in the last week or so Rick finished stacking and storing the extra cord of firewood we had delivered:


And just a few days ago he finished clearing out the center bay of the carport and backed the Airstream into its winter home:


So we are all ready for winter.  Bring it on and we hope for a good snow season and plenty of cross-country skiing!  It is supposed to rain later today and be clear at the end of the week, so I suspect this current snow won’t last, but it’s a start!

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This coming weekend, Rick and I are participating in the 2015 Artist’s Studio Tour presented by Confluence Gallery, Methow Arts Alliance and TwispWorks.  27 Artists. 18 Studios. 2 Days. SAT & SUN, SEPT 19 & 20, 9-5pm.  Profits will benefit non-profit artist programs here in the valley.  The idea is to buy a ticket at Confluence Gallery or TwispWorks, for which you will receive a wristband and map.

2015 Studio Tour Postcard JPEGRick has been consumed with a major cleanup of his shop, which was badly needed anyway.  I have been consumed with weaving and finishing towels down at the guild room, as well as cleaning up my workspace.  Even if we don’t get a lot of visitors, it is a good thing to have an excuse to reorganize and clean!

Last night I finished hemming the other 7 crackle weave towels from the first warp.  There are only 6 pictured here because two of them are quite similar.

set 1f

set 1g

set 1h

Last week I wound and tied on a second towel warp in a different colorway, and have been weaving away on those:

crackle set 2 underway

I took them off the loom yesterday afternoon, brought them home and washed and dried them.  They are stay-stitched and cut apart, but whether I get them hemmed or not for this weekend is kind of up in the air!

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We made a trip to the Skagit Valley and then to Seattle last weekend, to visit family and friends.  While on the way over the mountains, someone sent me a link to the Bellevue Arts Museum concerning an exhibit that is currently on display there.  I didn’t think we would have time to do this, but as it turned out we had about 3 hours Sunday afternoon, after the Seahawks game (Rick’s mom, who is 96, is a rabid Seahawks fan, so he went to watch the game with her while I met with some of my knitting friends).  It was well worth the visit!

The exhibit is called “In the Realm of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi”.   It is a retrospective of the work of Bob Stocksdale, a master woodturner, and his wife Kay Sekimachi, a master weaver.  Bob died in 2003 but Kay is still a working artist.  The exhibit was first shown at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego (Sept 2014 – March 2105) and the only other venue is the Bellevue Arts Museum (July 3 – Oct 18, 2015).  There is a beautiful accompanying book with the same title, which of course we bought, but they allowed photography so here is a tiny flavor of what we saw:

P1000260 P1000263 P1000265 P1000266 P1000267 P1000268 P1000269 P1000270

As long as we were there, we decided to wander up to the third floor to see the other current exhibit.

Counter-Couture: Fashioning Identity in the American Counterculture

September 4, 2015 – January 10, 2016

Counter-Couture celebrates the handmade fashion and style of the 1960s and 1970s. Often referred to as the hippie movement, the Counterculture of the era swept away the conformism of the previous decade and professed an alternative lifestyle whose effects still resonate today.

This turned out to be FABULOUS (well, maybe you had to be there in the 1970’s, which we were).  What a hoot!  Wait a minute, where are those embroidered workshirts that I stitched in the early to mid-70’s?  Trust me, they don’t hold a candle to most of the gems we saw at the museum, but I have never been able to part with them.  Looking in the closet…here they are!

P1000274 P1000275 P1000276 P1000281 P1000283

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