Although it was mentioned briefly in last May’s news roundup, here is a fuller description of the greenwood chair project that appeared in the recent Bucknell newsletter.
In the last Bucknell Newsletter, I described the history of Brineddin Wood in Chapel Lawn, and how the Redlake Valley Community Benefit Society is working to improve biodiversity there. I briefly mentioned that wherever possible, more sustainable uses than firewood would be sought for any timber extracted. From lack of management in recent decades many trunks are not straight, so much felled timber will be of poor quality. Some, however, will be good enough for fencing materials and some also for craft purposes including greenwood chair-making, so earlier this year the Society teamed up with greenwood chairmaker, Mike Abbot, to find out how well Brineddin Oak performs compared with the more widely used Ash. Two carefully selected trees were felled in February. Throughout March and April, while the wood was still green, four ‘guinea pigs’ worked with Mike to make ‘Wee Wor’ (Shropshire dialect for ‘wonky’) chairs, which are small nursing chairs on rockers based on the traditional ‘Clun Chair’. The pictures and quotes here tell their own story, but the outcome is that the oak is good for the straight pieces, but doesn’t respond well to steaming, so ash is still needed for the rockers.
A very full day was later spent learning how make the seats from Danish paper. Mark and Di from Chapel Lawn, Duncan from Lydbury North, and Ros from Clun are delighted with their achievements. For Di Cosgrove, this was an entirely new experience, and one which she enjoyed immensely. Her chair sits prominently in the kitchen and is admired by all visitors.
Now, apart from fitting the rockers, the four chairs are complete. Other uses for the wood may be found. One idea is to see if the outer ‘sapwood’ lends itself to basket-making. If any readers have suggestions, do get in touch.
Patrick Cosgrove, June 2022