On the Upside – A Few Beautiful Things Made from Wood – if a King Penguin Can Be Called That
I can’t see that
…was a phrase which seemed to crop up rather regularly on a recent trip to London. Cue myopic hilarity from myself and friends who’s eyesight is degenerating but who haven’t quite mastered the art of remembering their glasses. Still hoping, perhaps, for the twenty twenty vision of yesteryear and incredulous that this thing is actually happening.
So, wine lists and menus in cafes and restaurants, exhibition texts and departure boards at train stations became something of a mystery. I even got lost with a friend in Walthamstow in search of the refurbished William Morris Museum as I could neither read the A to Z or grapple with my friends iphone as she valiantly drove us through the chilly grey wastes of east London.
After the bad news about Herald, I thought I’d balance it out with something more uplifting. One of the great things that has happened since I have more time to think, is that I also have more time to look. Slowing down really makes you see stuff in detail, whereas visual appreciations before were more momentary, passing by at a great rate in an unmemorable blur.
In this post I just want to share with you a few beautiful things which have been made with craft, the kind of things that William Morris and his gang would have approved of very much.
have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful
is his most famous quote, but I quite like
the true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life
First up then is this oak swill basket, which came into my possession recently as a present. There is only one person left in the UK who is making these and you can find out about him and them here, including a fascinating look into the history of these amazing baskets.
Secondly, this yurt maker crafts these wonderful nomadic houses by steaming hand split local ash. I love the form and the clever way it is all put together… shame to put the canvas on really…
The yurt maker also made this wonderful curved stair rail, also steamed. Every time I grip this as I go up and down the stairs I am aware of what went into making it.
And the brackets for the stair rail are hand made in a small forge in Devon, where the metal worker also makes woodburning stoves to any specification.
Thirdly, I have been meaning get our books onto shelves for quite a while as they are still languishing in piles. So the other day I started dusting them off and came across this lovely set of King Penguins. Ok, not strictly speaking made from wood, but there’s no shame in expanding the criteria to get into the Beautiful Things post. What a joy and a pleasure to rediscover these treasures among the dust (MUST get bookcase).
I wonder if all the books of the future will become more like art. Perhaps most of our reading material will be consumed on e-readers but books may become beautiful objects to collect and savour, like paintings.
Arachnophobes, there are spiders ahead.
Lastly I like wood because it’s really useful. Here’s some chestnut fencing.
And I saw these handsome wild ponies the other day, the beauties of Bodmin Moor .