Rob Gorrell - Folk Artist

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Making a large wood tankard.

UncategorizedRob Gorrell5 Comments

Each time I make something in my shop I try to improve on a technique that I am learning, and often try to add a new skill along the way. This time I decided to try my hand at making a wooden tankard.  The tankard I made was based on an 1808 example that was found in Denmark.

Right off the bat I could see that adding the handle was going to be a challenge. In most examples I have seen the handle is an integral part of the body, with a stave and handle being made in one piece.  If you are planning on using metal bands this creates a problem as there is not simple way to get the band installed because of the closed loop of the handle.  In this image of the original tankard you can see that the handle is made in two sections which would make the banding much easier.I tried to get in touch with the person who originally posted this image but have not heard back yet.  It would be great to find out more about the original. You can also see that the maker opted for wood banding. But I have not tackled that challenge yet.

I am skipping past splitting and roughing in the staves to show what happens if you read your angle gauge wrong.  When I use this gauge I have to remember that the 10 reading equates to a 10" radius, not a 10" diameter, which is what I wanted. I think I will make a new gauge that is layout in diameter numbering so that I don't make this mistake as often.

After re-jointing all of my staves to the proper angle I was ready to raised the vessel. After raising the sides and making some fine adjustments to the angles I made it to this point. You might notice the adjustable pipe clamps. I end up using these when I don't yet have a proper band the right size handy.  Not something you would do a living history event, but works well when no one is looking. Once all the joints looked good it was time to trim the top and bottoms to get the body of the tankard ready to croze.There was a good bit of scorp and spokeshave work to be done to get the body nice and round and ready for the croze and bottom.  A good cooper would be much closer to a finished shape at this point, but once again it is apparent that I am not a good cooper yet.  It is important that the inside of the bottom be very close to round or the bottom will not fit correctly.

The next photo is of my crozing tool that I made at Tiller's International, and the croze (bottom groove) that was made with the tool.

Up to this point this project moved along reasonably well. Making the handle and lid was, well, interesting.  Maybe in a later post I will do another and show more details.  The high point was that I got to use my newly acquired Stanley 45 to make the groove for the locking mechanism to ride in. The 45 takes some tinkering to get set up and ready, but it sure is fun to use.

From here there was much filing and sanding to get the lid and handle finished.  Numerous "opportunities for future improvements" were found during this project. I ended up with a functional lid, but is not graceful by any means.

But in the end I ended up with a tankard that is fully functional and will be useful at our living history events this fall.  There will definitely be a Tankard 2.0 to build on the  results of this project.  But, as Jethro Bodine is famous for saying, "All great artists must suffer". Except for him that meant skipping breakfast.

The finished tankard.

Building a tramp art cupboard.

Painted Folk Art, Rustic Furniture, Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

Tramp art hidden drawer cupboard. I made this painted tramp art cupboard a while back but have been wanting to show the process of how it was made.  Like many things I make, this one changed several times before I came up with something that I was really happy with.

This whole thing started when I bought about 1000 reject drawers for router cabinets from my local Woodcraft store. I figured they would be a good starting point for lots of different projects that required small drawers. One idea was to make a small cupboard that would hold several small drawers. I wanted this cupboard to be plain on the outside, and a bold surprise on the inside. Dan Mack once said that you should not explain your piece to the viewer, but instead, let the piece open up and allow the viewer to discover the story for themselves. I wanted the story to be inside of this cupboard, waiting to be discovered.

My brother was remodeling and old country post office building that needed a new roof. The old roof had really cool pressed tin panels that were rusted nearly to the point of falling apart. I also had a stash of reject walnut lumber to use for the case.

Tramp art cupboard roughed in.

Here you can see the cupboard being roughed in. I decided to use some birch plywood for the doors to keep them from warping. You can see that I am going to have to piece together the tin panels to cover the doors completely. Getting the old rusty tin to form neatly around the door panels was a bit challenging. The old paint kept flaking off where I did not want it to.

I added chip carved fronts to the drawers and matching chip carved panels on the insides of the drawers. I added only simple edge-carved side panels on the outside.

Here is what the primitive cupboard looked like with the doors attached and the tramp art carving completed.

Tramp art cupboard ready to paint.
Tramp art cupboard ready to paint.

Ok, here is where I ran into trouble.  My plan was to have the inside be very bright and decided to go with an americana set of colors. I should add that I usually need to consult Shelley about colors to get something that looks good. I did not do this.... So here is where the paint job ended up for a while.

Red white and blue tramp art cupboard.

Now this is with my old camera, and the red did not look quite this bad, but it was close.  It did not take long to realize that this cupboard was not finished. I let it stew for a few weeks to see what would happen.

This was about the point where I started adding metalworking tools to my little shop. I also found some patina solution in our supplies that put a copper patina over a base metal, in this case, tin.  So I fiddled around with crinkled tin panels that followed the lines in the tin on the doors, and added the patina in several layers.

For the inside I went with a sort of new age-y green with metallic blue, gold and green speckles.  It sort of ended up with a green night sky sort of feel that I was very happy with.  By adding the door panels and repainting the inside I came up with a neat little cupboard that I am pretty happy with...for now. Here is the finished cupboard. It is about 14 inches tall and about 5" deep.

Hidden drawer tramp art cupboard

Hidden drawer tramp art cupboard, open

 

In retrospect, 1000 drawers was about 950 more than I really needed. I ended up giving them away by the case. The last 450 or so went to the local school art department.  At least they did not end up in the landfill.

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And now, Fish on a Stick.

Painted Folk ArtRob Gorrell1 Comment
fish-stick1.jpg

Maybe it is a throw back to the days when I was more production oriented than I am now, but usually when I start making something I cut out parts for several items at once.  Along with the thin blanks that I used for Dork Fish and Punk Fish, I cut a 3 inch thick blank from some soft pine that I have salvaged. It was a scrap from a log home construction site.  At first I was planning on making a weather vane, complete with compass points. But when I got to this point I decided I liked the idea of it being on a simple cedar log stand.  As it neared completion my wife kept calling it the "fish on a stick", like Jeff Dunham's "jalapeno on a stick".  After a while the name Fish Stick just kind of stuck.

I am a beginning carver, so this is a bit primitive. But I am happy with the outcome. He is pretty beat up, with beer cap eyes and tin can fins. I added several coats of acrylic paint that I distressed to show colors through the layers.  The heat gut got a work out on this project.  If you are using a heat gun be very careful. There is a fine line between blistered paint and wood project smoking.

I think this is the end of the fish for a little while. I have some other tramp art projects in progress and am trying to get my newly aquired antique blacksmith forges repaired and ready to use for the summer.

This project  is for sale in my Etsy Store.

>May I present, Dork Fish.

Painted Folk ArtRob GorrellComment

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 I finally finished the Dork Fish and took some decent photos.  In a previous post I described some of the construction of this project. It is made from all salvaged and reused items.  The fish is carved from salvaged poplar, the fins are parts of tin cans and the bobbers and lures are found.  The background is made from re-worked beer caps,  which I hate to admit, we made available ourselves.

Is calling a fish a dork politically incorrect? He doesn't seem to mind.  He has his pocket protector, pencils, glasses and is ready to go to....school... (sorry).

Here you can see some detail of how I put the project together.  The total dimensions are about 17 x 31 inches.

Dork fish is for sale in my Etsy Store .

>Tramp Art Church Box Do Over.

Tramp ArtRob GorrellComment

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A while back I made a series of three tramp art cupboards and boxes that were inspired by French cathedrals. I was happy with two of them and they sold pretty fast. The third one however never really worked for me. I kicked it around for a while and finally decided to give it a make-over. Here is what I started with.

To be honest I don't like the proportions, the colors, and the fact that it looks top heavy. Shelly suggested that I add a wider base to the whole thing to balance it out better.

I made a wood base with one large drawer that I think helped quite a bit.
I added a false front to the drawer to be more pleasing with the small upper section drawers. The colors are off on this photo as the paint is really more of a medium brown.

From there I added some rectangular accents to the steeples with hand notched edges. Speaking of edges....

Up to this point I have been carving the majority of my notches with a grinder jig that I found on the internet. However, I find that the hand cut notches look nicer and are more fun to do. So from now on all my regular notches will be hand cut. I may still use a dremel tool here and there, but not much.

The final steps for this make-over were to paint the rest of the cupboard brown and add a multi-step antiqued finish that highlighted the notches and shadows nicely.

Here is the finished cupboard. It measures 32 inches tall, 14.5 inches wide and 6" deep.