Greetings from Bala in lock-down, where my lathe must be wondering if I’ve forgotten where its on/off switch is! Apart from turning a few sample pieces for an article that I was writing, two weeks ago, not a single piece of work has been produced.
“Is this a case of lock-down laziness?”, you might ask. Well, no, things have been ridiculously busy, but in a way which has been very different to the norm. About a year ago I embarked on a project to build a small extension that would be a cross between a conservatory and a garden room. We bought a second hand conservatory from a home in nearby Dolgellau, dismantled it and brought it home, then set about designing a building with a hipped roof that the windows and door of the conservatory could fit into.
Work started in the late spring and by June, I had laid the foundations and bricked-up to internal floor level, then things slowed down dramatically when we hit the problems with the partial structural collapse at the shop. Between that and the busy season running up to Christmas, things progressed very slowly, then in January of this year, when the tuition really took off, there was little time to spare for working on it.
Fast forward to 14th March and we effectively closed down Pren for its foreseeable future, pending the easing of restrictions associated with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and its dreadful disease, Covid-19. With each of the half-dozen shops and galleries that sell my work, well stocked and without any students coming for tuition or woodturning clubs open for professional demonstrations, getting to grips with the completion of the garden room seemed to be the obvious thing to do.
At that time, the structure was complete and water-tight, the first-fix of the wiring was in and the internal walls had been plaster-boarded, but not plastered. The concrete floor had been laid with 10cm of insulation and a damp-proof membrane set into it. The walls were 10cm thick timber framework with a 12mm skin of Strand-board on the outside, clad with breathable membrane and then feather-board, whilst the inside had a vapour barrier and 12mm plaster-board attached. The window frames and door-frame were set in place, and the only tradesman that we’d employed in the entire build was a mini-digger driver who cut the foundations for us.
I wanted to continue with the concept of the self-build and the first job to get to grips with was the plastering, which got done in a couple of (messy) days and while the plaster was drying out, I got to grips with things like the soffits and fascias, then the rain-water gutters.
Laying the floor was tricky. We had bought an under-floor heating mat which needed to be laid on top of the concrete, then sealed in place with a top-layer of tile adhesive and finally tiled. That took a few days to get done, and it was then left for several days for all the high-build adhesive to dry thoroughly.
Finally, we got the interior decorated and moved the furniture in….then sat and enjoyed a glass of wine!
However, that was not to be the end of the story. Our lounge had not been decorated since we moved in several years ago and to add to that, I had cut some fairly invasive tracks out of the plaster-work in one corner, to run power into the garden room, so it had to be the next project. That got done in three flat-out days and now looks so much fresher and brighter. The final touch was to hang a picture that I had bought for Sal from a gallery where there was an exhibition which I had a few pieces of work in earlier this year. The exhibition celebrated the folklore and fairy tales of our region, and when we visited there to collect my work at the end of the exhibition, Sal saw and fell in love with the picture, so a week later I sneaked back there and bought it for her.
With the lounge finished, the picture has taken pride of place adjacent to the door into the garden room, and above the sofa where she sits as night. It is a picture of a wild boar, but not just any wild boar, this is “Twrch Trwyth” a boar from the Welsh legend of “Culhwch and Olwen”, one of the tales of the Mabinogion……my apologies here to non-Welsh speakers, you must be struggling with this!
The artist is Judith Harrison and you can see more of her work, here.
What we both love about the picture, is its texture. Deep swathes of paint applied boldly to give depth; it is so well suited to the subject.
Next week, if I can remember where it is, I shall spend some time in my workshop!