I use a lot of storm-fallen timber in the production of my lamps and I know friends and family will have been listening intently to the radio this morning and thinking of me when they hear about the many trees that have fallen down in that monster storm Doris last night. I wouldn't be surprised to get a few calls or texts letting me know there's a tree down on the N11! That's like the bat signal for me - into the cave, grab my trust chainsaw and I'm off.
So I thought it might be a good idea to explain the process that's involved in creating a lamp out of a fallen tree.
Firstly it depends on the type of wood - not all wood is created equal - we have lots of soft woods in Ireland (not native but widespread) and lots of natural hardwoods like beech, ash oak etc. I love a great lump of an old twisted hardwood.
Secondly, it depends on the age of the tree and when it fell down. A fallen tree requires a year per inch of wood to dry out and as trees are quite large, bulky items, you need somewhere to store them. A fallen tree can take years to dry out and using it too early will result in cracking, warping etc and although very few of my lamps are ever really square, a non dried timber can be a little too warped and cracked even for me!
This is where my friend Neil comes in. He specialises in storm-fallen timber and supplies me with a lot of my timber, and occasionally if I ask him really nicely, he'll let me shove a few lumps of my wood into his kiln, which dries it in a few months as opposed to years.
Thirdly, the wood needs to be cleaned, sawn, sanded, drilled and oiled into suitable blocks and even after all of that, quite a few won't make the grade.
Wood is beautiful, but it can also be a right pain because essentially wood will always do exactly what wood wants to do, and sometimes me and the timber don't agree on the end product!
So there you have it. Let the North wind blow!