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 (a 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.

However, 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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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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Woodstore No. 2

So, after a particularly cold and long winter, one woodstore just wasn’t enough.

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I made this one as a lean-to extension on the side of my old shed. It’s made entirely from recycled/reclaimed materials (wood from pallets and reclaimed roofing slates) except for the two uprights.

An early attempt at a Pictish Stag

A piece from March 2012. As with my first carvings of the Pictish wolf, I was still using metal engraving burrs when I carved this.

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This 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).

The Pictish stone is now housed in the National Museum Of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Pyramids Of Slate

As I rarely turn down an offer of reclaimed slate, I often end up with large amounts that are not suitable for carving or making roofs on birdhouses/wood stores. Part of the ethos of HatchBurnCarve is to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, so I try to use as much of my collected material as I can.

Although some slates are unsuitable for carving, they can still be used to create pieces such as slate pyramids. Tucked away in a corner of a garden (or in the middle of a bed or border) they provide layer upon layer of microhabitat for garden insects and larvae.

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I view a 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.

I can make these to order. Send me a message using the contact form, or email hatchburncarve@yahoo.co.uk.ImageImage

An early attempt at a Pictish wolf

Another piece I carved in 2011 when I was still carving as a hobby.

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

As I was teaching myself, I didn’t realise that I was using burrs designed for metal engraving back then (silicon carbide and diamond burrs should be used for stone). This was also a hard piece of slate that I was carving with an old, under-powered Black and Decker ‘Electric Wizard’. Despite the inappropriate tools (and the consequent shaky lines), this is where I started and this is what got me hooked on rotary tool carving.

If you are starting out carving stone with rotary tools and have any questions, or would like some tips, please use the contact form to get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to answer questions and share my knowledge.

Luckenbooth Wall Plaque

One of the first pieces I carved back in 2011 (when carving was 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…

My parents took me 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 forever been coupled with my intense love and respect for the earth and nature. Mix in a fascination for  Pictish and Celtic art, folklore, magick, spirituality and all things hidden.

Carving started as a hobby for me back in 2010 or so. I’ve kept some images of my first attempts on this site to show the differences that hours, days and years of trial-and-error experience can make.