Monthly Archives: August 2013

Why ‘Hatch’? Here’s why (Part one)

Birds. I have had a lifelong fascination for birds- both wild and domesticated.

Many of us take them for granted, never noticing them. But, they are always there- outside our homes- our ever present inhabitants of the skies, the forests, the moorlands and our cities and towns.

I’ve been keeping chickens for years and wanted to get more birds, but I wanted to get different birds.

My great-uncle was a railwayman and, as such, kept pigeons in his back green (shared tenement back garden in Scotland!). His back green was massive and it was always sunny (as seen through my young eyes). It was also filled with raspberries and gooseberries he had grown. In the middle of all his fruit bushes was his pigeon loft. These beloved racers were one of his prized possessions and were even brought into the house every night in a special overnight-pigeon-bed-box type thing 😉 The childhood memories of these birds never quite left me, so I decided upon pigeons!

Most people dismiss pigeons as either vermin, or as an old-fashioned hobby of men in flat caps with whippets by their sides!

Pigeons are actually extremely clever birds. They can;

-tell the direction and strength of the earths magnetic field (by a mechanism we still don’t understand).

– detect infrasound as low as 0.1 Hz.

– use roads to navigate (so much so, that they even fly around roundabouts).

After reading and researching, I set about to build this- a ‘roller kit box’.

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No, this doesn’t mean it comes in kit form! A ‘kit’ is a small flock of roller pigeons who form very close bonds and usually fly together in one formation or other.

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And ‘roller pigeons’ are?! Well, birds which essentially do mid-air backward somersaults!

I drew up my own plans for this merely by looking at pictures of various kit boxes on the web. Built in sections in my old garage, this was put together using marine plywood and pressure treated timber (along with various recycled bits I had).

It now houses my Birmingham rollers- a great wee aerial display team.

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A Pictish Stag For Fawn Cottage

This was a request for someone living in a place called Fawn Cottage- so I thought, well, Pictish Stag!

I carved this one in March 2012- still a hobby back then, still using metal burrs, so lines still a bit shaky! The person was very pleased though 🙂Image

The stag is from a Class I Pictish Stone from Grantown-On-Spey and was originally found at a place called Cnoc-an-fruich (Freuchies or Frenchies Hillock).

It’s now housed in the National Museum Of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Pyramids Of Slate

As an avid collector of slate, I often end up with large amounts which are not suitable for either carving or for making roofs. So, instead, I make these! Slate pyramids! Not only do they look cool, they provide layer upon layer of microhabitat for garden insects.

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View your garden as a complete ecosystem made up from niches each of which will be inhabited by insects, animals, birds. By caring for the smallest of creatures, you are providing the very basis of grounding for your whole garden. Get out there. Get mud under your fingernails.Image

I can make these to order too! Just drop me a comment….ImageImage

A Pictish Wolf For Willie

This was a piece from 2011 which I made for my best mate Willie for his Christmas (and carving was still a hobby back then).

It’s based on the Class I Pictish Symbol Stone from Ardross in Ross and Cromarty (now in Inverness Museum).Image

My lines are a bit shaky on it as I was still using metal burrs and it was a hard piece of slate, but I think it adds to the character (and Willie was chuffed with it!)

My First Wood Store (no, not Fisher Price!)

This was the first wood store I built next to my the garage where I used to stay.

Two blue pallets for the base, reclaimed sarking boards, reclaimed slates. I bought some pressure treated timber for the upright supports, but used dismantled pallets for the sides. Only other thing I had to buy was post-crete to support the uprights.

Job done! It looks a bit bare just now as this was taken post-winter season. Image

Luckenbooth Wall Plaque

One of the first pieces I carved back in 2011 (when this was still a hobby and my lines were still shaky!).

It’s based on a Luckenbooth design. These traditional Scottish love-tokens were made and sold on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. In folklore, these were also worn by nursing mothers and also known as ‘Witch-Brooches’ to protect children from the evil eye.

Where it all started…

Blame the parents! They took me and my sister to places like North Wales and Easdale  for holidays.

Landscapes full of disused slate quarries. Places to explore, stones to hold and collect.

This grounding and background has always been coupled with my intense love and respect for the earth and nature. Mix in a fascination for the Pictish and Celtic folklore and art of Scotland….