Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Cotton cord and rush pages added

I've been busy this afternoon. The page for ready twisted rush is now online. Here's a close-up of our fine RT rush - lovely smooth texture, isn't it?

I've also added the huge selection of coloured cotton cord we have on offer. Lovely colours for the summer and autumn.

Have a look for the tabs at the top of the page for cotton cord, and ready twisted rush.

I wonder which I should do next? Chair cane, perhaps.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Another page added

We now have both seagrass and Danish cord for sale via this blog. You can also buy the relevant instruction books, and the tools needed for these jobs.

See the tabs above for links.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Starting the website update at last!

Exciting times ahead. I am finally starting to transfer all our shop pages to this blog, so that the whole site will eventually be mobile friendly.  I should have done this years ago, but I keep getting sidetracked by playing music and exploring the countryside with the dog.

But I'm starting now. I've done one page already, and we'll gradually get the whole lot on here. Watch this space!

Here is the first page, for those who might like to buy some  SEAGRASS.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Latest things from FabLab

I've mentioned before how much I love Cockermouth FabLab, where we can play with laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC routers and other lovely things. I'm still getting to grips with the software that makes these machines do their magic, but it's gradually making sense and I'm starting to design things from scratch, rather than just drill holes for basket making.

I am so full of ideas! Just watch what I come up with, as I get better at the software!

This, now. This is one of my first things - a laser cut money box. (The red squirrel on the front is to remind us that we should try squirrelling away some of our small change.) It's a perfect fit for an Illy coffee tin, but would be find without the tin lining too.  I've been dropping all my loose coppers into this box since I made it, and there must be a couple of pounds in there already.

We're going to be offering these as kits that you can put together yourself, and finish in any way you want. (The one in the photo has had no surface treatment yet.) A few coats of varnish would be nice, but you could paint the squirrel in a fetching shade of orange if you wanted, before applying the varnish. Artists' coloured acrylic inks are good for this sort of thing. The colour won't run once it's dry so you can varnish over it.

We'll have other animals besides squirrels. Probably other local, Cumbrian animals - Herdwick sheep, ospreys ... things like that.


Here's another box I made. This one was made as a birthday present for Annie, but I can easily make them with any name of your choice on top.

Once again I'll be selling them as kits. I lined this one with decorative paper, but I'm not sure how secure the glue will be, and I suspect it might be better to paint the inside, and varnish the outside. But it's up to you!

We are still developing a range of these things so no prices yet, but please enquire if you're interested in buying one, or if you'd like to suggest improvements.

She looks as though she likes it. Success!

Our customers' work (4)

Ann W. recently bought a stool frame and some black polycord from us, and did an absolutely superb job of putting it together and weaving the chequerboard pattern.

The underside, which is often the part people don't bother much about, is really neat. She experimented with methods of joining in new strands of polycord, and discovered that simply using a cigarette lighter to melt the ends together works very well. If you look carefully at the photo below you can see where she had to do a repair when one of the joins came loose (from overuse by children!) but the others seem to be holding up very well. I am most impressed.

She says:  
"Recently I discovered that underneath the stool a couple of the knots that I had melted together had come unstuck so I had to do a bit of repair work with the lighter. They're a bit more blobby than I would have liked, but they are underneath so no one sees! 

The stool has been in increased demand as kids sit around the coffee table playing games, so I've decided I'll do another one." 

Polycord is an ideal material for seats that will be used by children. It's very strong, and comes in nice bright colours (red, green, blue and yellow) as well as more subtle ones like this black (also straw, white and dark brown). But the best thing is, you can wipe it clean when the kids spill food or juice on it.  

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Picture Tray Bases

These were the logical next step after basket bases.

For ages, people have been asking me if we can get those solid old melamine tray bases, drilled with holes ready for making cane borders. We used to have a supplier, but they were becoming so expensive that they actually cost more for me to buy wholesale than our customers could charge for them, beautifully finished with nice basketwork edges ... even if we decided not to make any profit at all, they would still have been uneconomical. So - sadly - we had to stop stocking them.

But you kept asking me - "Do you stock tray bases?"

I sadly kept replying, "Sorry – no."

But I don't like disappointing my customers, so I've kept thinking about how I might manage to make some, and since FabLab opened in Cockermouth, new opportunities have arisen.

I finally found the right sort of material to drill holes in, and so - at last! - we can offer picture tray bases again.

These are not melamine - they are a hardboard composite with a cork back and a wipe-clean surface. They are a little smaller than the old ones, too. But they're still big enough to carry a couple of cups of tea and a plate of biscuits. There's a good selection of pictures, and we keep finding new ones. We can more or less make them to order. And they are affordable!

So head on over to our website, and have a look. Here's a direct link to the page:

Friday, 5 September 2014

Fun at Fab Lab - new laser-cut basket bases

I've been spending a bit of time recently at a wonderful new venture which has opened up in Cockermouth - BEC Fab Lab, where they have a variety of computer-driven machines such as laser cutters, 3D printers and CNC routers which can be used by the general public. The only cost is the price of materials used plus an hourly rate for use of the machine.

It's a place that fills me with inspiration! I've started with easy things - things that will be of use to our customers.

We're always running out of certain sizes of basket
base, so with the help of the lovely FabLab people I've drawn up computer files and cut out some tray bases 18" x 12", as well as a few smaller, square basket bases - some 6" square and some 4" square. We haven't had square ones before, so I hope they'll be of interest to you. The edges are so much neater than the old ones, sawed and drilled with traditional tools. I really like the results.

The beauty of this is that if you want a basket base of an unusual size, you only have to ask. It may take a little longer, as I'll have to set up the computer file first, but once that's done, it'll be easy for us to make them for you whenever you wish.

Suppose you wanted a long, narrow basket to put on a window ledge to hold plant pots? Easy! Just tell us the size, and we'll sort it. (Up to 12" x 24" - 300 x 600mm) We can just as easily create funny-shaped ones - just tell us your requirements!

 I am now working on designs for children's chairs that can be rush-seated or cane-seated. The old, traditional chair kits are no longer available - they simply don't make them any more - because apparently, "there's not enough demand". Well, there doesn't have to be a lot of demand for our flat-pack children's chair kits, as they'll be made to order. We'll keep 2 or 3 in stock, and just make more as we need them. So watch this space!