Thursday, 17 December 2015

Another Freebie for Xmas

Hi all,
Just to let you know that "Bossyboots" will be free for the next two days. It should give readers a good laugh over the Christmas period.
Just click on the book from the tab above and it will take you to Amazon for your free copy.
Happy reading.

Monday, 14 December 2015


Hi all,
Although I have ceased scroll sawing and pyrography on a short term basis while I have a serious go at painting, I thought I'd just mention something that happened the other day. My wife asked me if I could make her a church and a building out of wood so that she could decorate it for Christmas.

Anyway, I'm always eager to earn some brownie points so I said, "Get me a picture of the type of thing you want and I'll knock you something up." All was quiet for the next ten minutes while she used her Kindle Fire to scour the internet, then she said,"Cancel that order, I've found what I want on Amazon and it is only £18."

I was slightly disappointed at not having a chance to display my scroll sawing and pyrography skills but at least it would save me the bother.

We are Amazon prime members which meant that the item came the following day and I was astonished. What she had managed to order was a small village consisting of a church, several buildings, a picket fence plus some trees. And what's more it had lights. It was made from plywood, with pyrography details and the quality was very good given that it was made by machines, probably cut out with a laser etc.

I just couldn't compete with that sort of stuff, to be honest, it would have cost me almost £18 for the wood let alone the time to make it. If I was to make it from scratch I guess there would probably be 100 hours work in it.

So what does this mean for scroll sawing and pyrography. Well it will make it much harder for anybody to make any money out of mass producing wooden objects because the laser cutters can do it much quicker. So, all we can do is concentrate on doing one off projects that are unique in design and have a bit of art about them. The more value that is added to the wood the better.

To this end, I have asked my wife to get me Dremel for Crimbo so that I can use it in conjunction with the scroll saw and the pyrography iron. I'm looking forward to doing a bit more scrolling and pyrography in the new year and making some stuff the laser boys can only dream about.

In the meanwhile, if you want to how I'm getting on with the paintings why not pop over to my challenge website and have a shufty.

Also I'm giving away one of my books, pictured above, for Christmas. It's the second book in "The Fishing Detectives series and is called Bun In The Oven. If you pop over to then type in coupon code VZ64V at the checkout you will get your free download.

If I don't manage another post in the next week, here's hoping you all have a merry and peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Proof that the world's gone mad

Hi All,
If ever I needed proof that the world has gone totally mad, it came yesterday. I went into a shop to purchase 2 chocolate bars; a little treat for me and the mrs. It went like this.

I put the two bars of chocolate on the counter and was informed by the the shop assistant that it would be cheaper to buy three.

Thinking this was some cleaver sale pitch I said, "I don't want three, I'm on a diet."
She replied, "It's cheaper to buy three. Three bars are only £1.20, but if you buy just two they are 67p each so that will be £1.34."
For a moment I stood with my mouth open because I couldn't quite grasp what she was saying. To clarify the situation I thought I would repeat what I thought she said.
"Are you saying that two bars of chocolate will cost me £1.34 while three bars will cost me £1.20?"
"That's right," she said whilst looking at me as if I was practicing to be a village idiot.
What could I do, "charge me for three," I said, "and I'll pick another one up on the way out." And that is exactly what I did.

My wife didn't believe me when I relayed the incident to her, so I produced the extra bar for proof. She knows I'm tighter than a gastric band, so she knows Iwouldn't spend extra money without being drugged.

So there you are the world has gone mad.

Anyway the main purpose of this post was to let you know that the book below
will be free on amazon on the 26th and 27th of November, why not grab a copy while you can. Also I have just posted another watercolour painting on my Artistic Challenge blog. If you would like to check it out here's the link.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Water Quality

Hi all,
I'm afraid this post doesn't include any references to scroll sawing or pyrography, but if you are interested in what comes out of your tap please read on.

Those who have been following this blog will know that I have been very busy renovating the bungalow we moved into almost two years ago. Well, the work is almost done so I thought I'd treat myself to a new tropical fish tank. I had successfully kept tropical fish in the eighties and nineties but divorce, redundancy, heart attack and several house moves saw me giving up the fish.

Anyway, now that my days are more settled I thought I'd  rekindle the hobby and spend the rest of my days sitting on my couch watching the fish meander up and down the tank. What could be more relaxing?

I went out and purchased an 87 litre tank and all the stuff that is necessary to set up a new aquarium. I filled it with water and and left it for a week to start the cycling process prior to introducing some fish. So far everything was going well, then I tested the water to see what the hardness and ph levels etc were.

Everything was okay except for the water's general hardness figure. The test strip indicated that the water was very hard and I should proceed with caution.

I scoured the internet for information on tropical fish and hard water and even bought two books on the subject. Advice about which fish could be kept in hard water and what could be done to reduce the hardness was easy to come by along with some conflict.

The majority suggested the only foolproof way to reduce hardness is to go to your fish dealer and buy RO water, (known as RO water because it has been through a process of reverse osmosis) and put that in your tank instead of tap water. You can than add some minerals to it to make the water safe for the fish.

However, the minority suggested that  because most fish were now bread in captivity, water hardness wasn't a big issue any more and that fish had now adapted to it. I mentioned before that I'd kept fish successfully when I lived about 8 miles away, I hadn't tested the water then so perhaps the minority were right.

Anyway, I decided to give it a go and purchased 4 Zebra Danios which are renowned for being hardy and able to tolerate hard water. One died the very next day but because the other three looked okay I put the death down to the stress of transportation. However, two days later another one died which was upsetting. Was it the water and just how hard could it be? I decided to buy a more scientific test kit which would produce a reliable figure. Once this was known I could decide what to do next.

The test involved putting some of my aquarium water in a test tube and then counting how many drops of a special solution it took to make the water change colour.

The leaflet that came with the test kit advised that some tropical fish species like Tetras need to have water that changed colour when between 3 and 6 drops were introduced. Other tropical fish, like guppies etc could manage to live in water that changed colour when up to 11drops were needed.

The test scale finished at 12 drops,  which according to the leaflet was only suitable for keeping gold fish. Armed with this information I began counting the drops as I began the test. I was a bit concerned when I reached 13 drops and the water was still the same colour and by the time I'd reach 20 I was under no doubt as to why the 2 Zebra Danios had died. It took more drops to change the water in the test tube and I was devastated when the count went to 25. What the hell is coming out of my tap liquid rock?

My next step was to see if there was any information on my water companies website and I was pleased to say that there was. However, I wasn't quite so pleased when I found what I was looking for. According to them the water for my post code is very hard and the figure suggested that it was slightly harder than the the result that I got from my test kit.

Now you might think this is unacceptable and there must be a mistake. Well there is no mistake and what's more there isn't even a standard so they they don't have to bother complying.

Sadly, this was the end of another dream. Buying reverse osmosis water and humping it about the countryside isn't an option. I purchased the fish tank hoping for some relaxation, so doing a 20 mile round trip for a tank full of water every week is not on. So, I returned the 2 surviving fish to the fish supplier and put the tank up for sale on ebay. It cost me about £400 in total and I guess I'll be lucky if I get £75 for it. The only good news is that I won't be killing anymore fish.

At this point I asked myself a serious question. If fish can't survive in this water, how can it be safe to drink? In my opinion it can't so I went out and purchased a water filter. It won't get rid of all the nasty stuff in the tap water like florid, but it it will help with some of the other stuff.

By the way the art challenge is going well and you can get an update here if you would like to see my latest effort.

Saturday, 7 November 2015


Hi all,
 I'm back with another bit of pyrography to show you. It isn't mine I hasten to add, it is something my wife did. Well I made the box and originally and did a pyrography design on it that at the time I thought was okay. However, it transpires that my wife never liked it and finally told me so. "It isn't quite right, fuchias are delicate flowers and your rendition looks like an ugly brute" she said.

Anyway being as I'm one of those chaps who are always eager to please. I ran the box over my belt sander, to remove the ugly brute and presented it to her. "There you go my little passion flower, let's see what you can do with that."

After about a week of staring at the box she finally came up with a design and burnt it in with her pyrography iron. Her it is.
I love to know which you think is the best. In my view, it's okay, but it ain't quite right either, non too handsome thistle and a fat bumble bee with short wings. Still, you can't expect to do great works of art every time. Talking of art, I'm still not doing any pryrography because I'm busy with my my watercolour challenge. If you are interested in watercolour painting here's the link.

I'm getting better but very slowly. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


Hi all,
Just a quick one to let you know that one of my books, "Bossyboots" will be free on Amazon on the 22nd and 23rd of October.

The story revolves around a pottery factory manager who is desperate to find a new bed mate after his long suffering wife walks out on him. However, just like the problems he is having in the factory, nothing goes to plan.

If you want a good laugh and find out how one man deals with middle aged freedom, grab a freebie on the 22nd or 23rd.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Reluctant Pom

Hi all, sorry it's been a while since my last post, but I have been changing priorities regarding any spare time that might sneak past my horizon. I have always wanted to be a decent painter and now that I'm knocking on a bit I want to give it a good shot while I still can.

I've always managed to do a reasonable drawing many of which can be seen in my pyrography work, but using paint takes more skill. I have dabbled in watercolours and oils over the years but didn't produce much of note so now I'm going to give the watercolours a real go. I have given myself a year to became competent, so if you want to follow my progress, warts and all, here is the link to my
watercolour challenge pages .

This is a picture of a lion that I painted a few years ago. It is the world's only bow legged lion so I guess improving on that effort shouldn't be too difficult.

I won't be neglecting the scroll sawing and pyrography all together, after all I am slightly addicted to the smell of burning wood, but my post on here will become less frequent.

One last thing. My book, "The Reluctant Pom" is free today and tomorrow on Amazon, so if you would like a free copy here is the Link.
 I hope you enjoy it. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


Hi all,
I've just finished a pyrography project that gained me some more brownie points from the other half. A few weeks ago she decided it was time for me to redecorate our bedroom. She wanted three plain walls and one with wall paper. So, we set about the finest wall paper shops Stafford has to offer in the hope of finding two rolls of paper that would do the wall proud.

Well I don't know what's happened to wall paper design, but from our view point it is pretty grim. Most of it looks like the pattern was stolen from a couple of ties that I had the audacity to wear in conjunction with a blue velvet  jacket in the seventies. No wonder so may high street shops are closing down and and being replaced with charity emporiums. They seem to have lost any sort of individualism. One would have though it impossible to homogonise wall paper but they have.

Anyway, a year before, my wife purchased some lovely vintage wall paper from Ebay and so it was no surprise when she turned to them again.

"I've found a couple of rolls of very nice paper with ducks on it," she said to me. My immediate thoughts were that our bedroom was going to look like Hilda Ogden,s parlour, but these fears soon dissolved away when the paper turned up. It didn't take long to hang and it looks very nice when it was finished. The only problem was that the first morning when I woke up I thought I was in Hitchcock's film about the birds.
Once the bedroom was finished there was only one problem. Our linen basket didn't have a lid. And it spoiled the ambiance to have to look at socks and other bits of underwear every time you entered or left the room. So, I had an idea. I cut a piece of 4mm plywood to fit the top of the basket screwed a knob in the middle and then set about it with my pyrography iron.

At first I was stuck for a pattern; flowers and butterflies came to mind, but then I realised the image was staring me straight in the face. I used the ducks on the wall paper for inspiration and they came out pretty well.
My wife was well chuffed when she saw it and I'm an hero again. Not sure what my next project will be, but if you would like to see more of my pyrography work please click here to go to my website.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Brush Holder

Hi all,
For my latest project I created a present for my wife's birthday. I got her a few other things but she enjoys it when I put a bit of effort in and make her something nice.

She has recently been doing a lot of painting and she keeps her brushes in a glass jar, which always worries me because because of the fire risk. Now before you start laughing, let me tell you a little story. A few years ago we had a glass ornament that sat on our wooden coffee table, anyway, we came home one day to the smell of burning and found that there was a huge scorch mark in the coffee table. Apparently, the sun had shone through the glass ornament and it had a magnifying effect, which could have started a fire.

Since then I have been very wary of leaving anything glass where the sun can shine through it, and seeing as my wife currently uses our conservatory for a studio, the risk of a fire caused by the glass jar she keeps her brushes in is a risk.

So I decided to make her a wooden one with fretwork leaves, which I did some pyrography on. Here is the finished article.
It took quite a while to make this box and do the pyrography work because I was having to do it in secret. My wife doesn't go out much on her own, so I had to rush and do a bit when she was in the shower or cooking etc. Cutting the bits out between the leaves with my scroll saw was nerve jangling stuff because one slip and the whole thing could have been ruined. The leaves cover three sides and it is all made from a sheet of 4mm plywood and finished with a clear varnish.

Her face was a picture when she ripped the paper off and that made the whole thing very worth while.

My next task is another surprise for her and I hope to be able to show you that soon. In the mean while, if you would like to see some more of my pyrography work or find out about my fishing books please visit my website.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Paint Box Done

Hi all,
Sorry about the late post, my pyrography time has been slashed due to my need to decorate our bedroom. My wife pointed out, in very clear language, that we had been sleeping in a grim shit hole ever since we moved into the shambles of a bungalow 18 months ago. I had done the rest of the place up but somehow the bedroom had been ignored until recently when it became the centre of attention

Anyway it is done now so I have managed to get the pyrography iron out again and finish the box I started a few weeks ago.

Here it is.
I like the design although I perhaps could have put a few more primroses across the bottom. The key to this sort of pyrography is to always keep a contrast between light and dark.  The primrose flowers are light, so I purposefully positioned the leaves of the middle bunches of snowdrops behind them Likewise, I tried to make sure that the snowdrop leaves formed a dark background for the snowdrop flowers.

Although I drew the primroses on paper first and transferred them to the box, I drew the snowdrops straight onto the box to save time. Once the pyrography work was done, I gave the box three coats of cellulose lacquer and it looks great.

My next project will involve the scroll saw and some pyrography because I have decided to make my wife a present for her birthday. She is an artist and currently keeps her bushes in a big jar that threatens to set her studio on fire when the sun shines through the window.

Anyway, I have sorted out the design so now it is all down to the cutting and burning. I will show it toyou in my next post. Don't forget if you want to see a gallery of my pyrography work please click here to go to my website.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Hi all,
In my last post I mentioned that I was going to do some pyrography primroses on top of a box that I am using to store my watercolour paints in. I haven't managed to finish it yet but I though I'd show you the work in progress.
I have decide to put a drift of snowdrops behind the primroses to give the image a bit of height. I am also going to use a lot of leaves on the snow drops to give a dark background for the light snowdrop flowers. It is important in pyrography to increase contrast by positioning light areas against dark areas. All of the pyrography work has been done with the spoon tip, which most of you will know is my favourite pyrography tip because it is so versatile.

I hope to be able to show you the finished box in my next post. I will also be using an unusual finish on the box to see how it works with pyrography. Nearly all my pyrography work, up until now at least, has been given three coats of Ronseal quick drying varnish and I've always been pleased with the results. However, I have made a discovery which is very exciting and I will share it with you now.

About a year ago I made a a small wooden box from mahogany and inlaid the lid with some polymer clay flowers.
It looked okay but nothing to celebrate. Anyway, my wife put the box on our bedroom window sill and over the months it was attacked by the sun. It fished up all drab and faded and looked like it would be best keeping the carrot peelings company in the wheelie bin. However, that seemed a bit drastic so I decided to give it a coat of my amazing ebonizing solution to darken the wood and then gave it three coats of Bolger guitar lacquer. The result was quite stunning and the box is now so, impressive that my wife has promoted it. It now languishes on the sideboard in the living room and I can't help but give it a little rub every time I go past. I'm  afraid the photo doesn't do justice to the shine, but take it from me it's fantastic.
So, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and see how it looks on the new box.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A box for my paints

Hi all,
Just thought I'd share with you the idea I have had for my next pyrography project. I mentioned in a previous post that I'd taken up watercolour painting and have given myself a year to produce something decent. Well I have done 8 paintings so far and, to be honest, they are nothing to be proud of. Things can only get better, he said with his fingers crossed whilst juggling a rabbit's foot that wasn't very lucky for the bunny. Believe it or not, but when compared with watercolour painting, pyrography is very simple and at the moment, much more rewarding.

Anyway, my wife gave me a wooden box to keep my watercolour paints in, so I thought I'd do a nice bit of pyrography on the lid. I have come up with a primrose design which I think will look quite nice.
I will probably make it wider to fit the width of the box, what do you think? Hopefully I will have the pyrography done during the next week and if it looks half decent I will show it on here.

By the way if you would like to see my mediocre watercolours, here is the link .
If you would like to find out about my books or see some of my pyrography work, please click here.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Book Stand

Hi all,
Sorry it's been a while since my last post but I have been busy trying to get the hang of watercolour painting. My learning curve is steep and I'm struggling to get a grip with the medium. However, I am making progress and if you want to see how I am getting on here is the link to my latest post on the subject.

Anyway, whilst I have been chasing this new dream I have purchased several books on the subject and I am attempting to follow some of the projects. While I was doing this I found that it was difficult to see the book and my painting at the same time, so I decided to make a book stand so that it would be vertical and open at the correct page.

I didn't want to fork out for some special wood so I raided my scrap bin and found enough pieces to satisfy my need. Being an old miser and being tighter than a duck's bum is a good thing sometimes. I did the design as I went and cut up all the wood on the scroll saw and screwed it together to make a very practical object. However, it wasn't as pretty as it could have been so I drew some leaves on it free hand and then burnt them in with my pyrography iron.
Despite having a go at watercolours, pyrography still tugs at my heart strings. It is such a simple medium to get to grips with but it doesn't half bring something special to a piece of wood.

My next project will also be on a watercolour theme because I'm thinking of designing a holder for my collection of brushes that will be decorated with pyrography. All I need now is a good chunk of spare time.

By the way, If you are quick I have two free books up for grabs today.
Book 1

Here's the link.
Book 2

Here's the link.

If you do download either or both of the books I hope you enjoy them. If you do please leave a review because every little helps.

Saturday, 13 June 2015


Hi all,
 I'm sorry I haven't done any posts recently. The truth of the matter is that I'm letting the pyrography and the scroll sawing take a bit of a backseat at the moment while I have one last go at watercolour painting.

I've always been interested in art and over the years I've had dabble with the brush. The only trouble was that life got in the way. Getting married, having kids and going to work took up almost all of my time, drinking and fishing consumed the rest.

That's is one of the reasons that I turned to pyrography, it is one of those mediums that allows one to indulge in making art without the need for much room. However, the wanting to paint bug won't go away, so now that I've go a bit more free time and a little more space I'm going to give it a proper go.

I am knocking on a bit now and will be of pensionable age next year, so it is a case of now or never. I'm old enough now to know that some of my dream will just always be dreams. I'll never ride a Harley Davidson across the USA or swim along The Great Barrier Reef, but I can have a go at watercolour painting.

Anyway, I've set myself a challenge of creating a painting a week with an objective of selling a painting before the year is up. If you are interested in seeing how I get on here is the link to the blog where I am recording my efforts.

With regards to scroll sawing and pyrography, I am not giving it up, in fact, I'm about to order some wood so that I can do a couple of designs that are bubbling about at the back of my head. And by the way, do you remember that I recently did a post an creating a trinket box with seed heads because I thought they were a good seller.

well the one I made sold last week so that cheered me up a bit. Here is the link to my website if you would like to find out more about my books or my pyrography work.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


Hi all,
In my last post I showed you the reclaimed picture frame that I'd done some pyrography work on and I also showed you the watercolour painting I'd done for the centre.
I said at the time that I didn't like very much but my wife went a step further and declared it to be a load of crap. Not one to mince her words, she couldn't find a good word to say for it. "It will ruin all the beautiful pyrography work you've done on the frame," she said.

I guess I must of looked a bit crest fallen because she offer her services free of charge and said she'd do me something more fitting.

I don't think it is so much greater than mine, but here it is in the finished frame.

You will notice that I have also added a little white and red paint to the butterfly pyrography. Again we are at loggerheads over that. My wife liked them better without the  paint, but I think it gives them a bit of a lift.

I'd love to know what you think. Please let me have your comments, they will be very welcome.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Reclaimed Frame

Hi all,
I have managed to finish the pyrography work on the photo frame that I bought from a charity shop for 50p. The design was based on one that I'd done previously on a bowl; I just modified it and added a few more leaves here and there to suit the frame.

The theme is one that comes from late summer and features red admiral butterflies and brambles.
Here is a picture of the frame now that the pyrography work is complete.
I am very pleased with it so far and, to be honest, it is a lot easier than it looks. The beauty of doing something that is organic is that as long as the basic shapes are right mistakes aren't noticed. Buildings need to have the correct perspective otherwise they look like they've been built by drunks and likewise animals need to be spot on to convince the viewer that they shouldn't be spending more time with a vet.

By the way, please feel free to take a copy of my design and have a go yourself. My main tip would be to look for areas of dark and light when shading in the leaves and, where possible, put one next to another. Likewise, where a leaf is going behind a dark piece of butterfly wing, make that edge of the leaf light and visa versa.

I used a spoon tip to do this pyrography work and a medium heat setting. the last thing you need when doing this type of image is over burn because that will take away the whole essence of the picture, which is the crispness of the edges.

I said the pyrography element of the image was complete and so it is, but I intend to paint a little colour onto the butterflies just to make them pop out a bit. I have done a watercolour painting for the centre, which I'm not sure about yet because I've used the wrong background colour.

In fact, none of the colours may not work with the frame but we will see. It is less than 3 inches square so it won't take long to do another one and I am looking forward to seeing the whole thing complete.

I will show you that in my next post.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Pyrograpy design

Hi all,
We don't give much money directly to charity but we do donate enough items to keep a shop open for 6 months of the year. This is mostly due to my wife I hasten to had because she buys often and sometimes she does it whilst lacking due care and attention. In fact, if she drove the car the same way that she shops she would have been banned many handbags ago.

Anyway, whilst we were donating a few more items that had gone through our house like a dose of salts, I saw a small picture frame that had a wide border.
The price tag was only 50p so I purchased it with a view to doing some pyrography on it. It was of course coated with varnish but I soon had that off with my belt sander.

I spent a few minutes thinking about a design and I imagined some butterflies would look great. so I went through my files to see if I had anything that I could convert. I always keep a copy of all my designs and sketches on my computer because they often come in handy again and again.  In this case I found a picture of a bowl that I'd previously done some pyrography on.
Eventually, I found the original drawing and set about modifying it on my computer so that it would fit the frame. I use Photoshop Elements for all my image manipulation work and I think it is brilliant.
To draw what I finished up with, from scratch, would have taken me ages but on the computer it took about 10 minutes.

Here is the drawing that I will be using on the frame.

 I will join up the brambles that are missing when I transfer the image to the wood prior to doing the pyrography and I might even paint a butterfly to go inside the frame to set it off nicely.

All will be revealed in my next post. Meanwhile, if you want to see any more of my work please visit my website to see my gallery and info on my books.

Sunday, 3 May 2015


Hi all,
Just a quick one. I have made one of my books, "Bossyboots" free on amazon for 2 days, 3rd and 4th of May. If you want a free copy to cheer you up on another damp bank holiday week-end, please download it and have a laugh. To go straight to the amazon page please click here.

I hope you enjoy it, if you do a review would be great, thanks.

Monday, 27 April 2015

The Sun

Hi all,
I'm afraid I haven't managed any new projects this week, mostly because I had an ultimatum from my wife. Well not so much an ultimatum as a request. She wants me to finish doing the garden before the end of April, so I thought I best take advantage of the decent weather.  I have some trellis work and some crazy paving to still do, but I' almost there.  I look forward to posting a few pictures in my next post.

Now then, one issue came to me during the week. I discovered the power of the sun, not in a sunburning type of way because I already knew about that, in fact, in my younger days I peeled for Britain. What I discovered was the suns ability to bleach the colour out of things. Of course I knew that some items like pictures, carpets and the fabric of furniture can be susceptible to the power of the suns bleaching rays, but not the colour of wood.

A few months ago I made a box with a walnut lid that had a rose inlaid into it. I was going to sell it on but my wife bagsied it and stuck it on the window sill in our bedroom. This being the case, my only course of action was to make another and sell that on Folksy. So I made a second box and wrapped it up and put in a draw so that it would be nice and safe should anybody want to buy it.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I looked at the original one on the bedroom widow sill but it didn't look as nice as I remembered, so I got the second one out of the draw to compare them.
Here is the original.
And here is the one that hasn't been in the sun.
It is quite shocking really, because the sun hasn't just taken the colour out of the walnut, it has actually affected the pyrography. So if you don't want any of your precious items to fade, keep them out of the sun.

By the way, readers of this blog might like to know that one of my books "Bossyboots" will be free this week-end 0n Amazon. The actual dates are the 2nd-4th on May inclusive. If you would like to find out more about "Bossyboots" or any of my other books, here is a link to my website .

My next project involves a bit of recycling. I'm still working on the image for it, but I hope to show it you in my next post.

Sunday, 19 April 2015


Hi All,
It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was singing along with the Beatles track "When I'm Sixty Four," but all of a sudden I've reached that milestone. Another twelve months and I'll be drawing my pension.

I don't know about you, but the older I get, the harder it is to come up with ideas for birthday presents for myself. My wife used to buy me surprise presents but after she got me a spade, which I still ridicule her about, she insists on me telling her what I want for my birthday. So I had to make up my mind and it came down to two choices, some watercolour  painting equipment or some wood for scroll sawing. It may surprise you, but the watercolour paints won.

The biggest problem I have at the moment is sawer's block. My inspiration for making things out of wood seems to have disappeared. I'd like to make a few more boxes but I'm running out of places to put them, and to be honest, I don't like selling most of my work.

Don't worry I'm not giving up on the scroll sawing or the pyrography, but it is going to have to fight for my time against my watercolour painting ambitions. What are your watercolour ambitions you may be asking, well I tell you.

I have always been interested in art and while "When I'm Sixty Four," was in the charts, I was painting an eagle with the left over paints from a painting by numbers set that I'd had for Christmas. I also did a self portrait of myself when I was in Australia, but then life's hectic train pulled into my station and like a fool I jumped on. Courting, getting married, having kids and working all hours to pay the mortgage meant there was little time to be arty. Any spare moments where I managed to escape were spent either fishing or blotting out stress in the local.

Anyway, after getting married for the second time and the kids left home, life became more mellow. I got the urge to paint again and over the next couple of years I tried a few different mediums. I would like to say that I was a success but things didn't go to plan. I fell foul of life again and caught another train to nowhere. Promotions at work and several years studying took away my art time and events took on further complications with my redundancy and a heart attack. Then we moved into a house that would be better described as a hovel. It was one of the places any sane man wouldn't normally have touched, but it was cheap. Every room and the gardens needed doing and, although it has taken me about fifteen months, I've almost got it done.

So, peace of mind may be just around the corner, I have given myself one year to paint my heart out and see if I can do anything worth hanging on a wall. I've made a start by building a stand for my brushes out of bits of scrap wood. It incorporates a jar at the the back to hold my clean brushes and some holes at the front to hold the ones that I am currently painting with.
My wife was so jealous I had to make her one too. Who knows, I might get around to doing a painting one day soon. If I happen to produce a masterpiece with my watercolour paints I will show it to you on here and, for those who like a good laugh, I might even show you some of my disasters.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Free Book

Hi All,
Just a quick post. I know that some of you just follow the stuff on here about pyrography and scroll sawing, but others are also interested in my books. Well, I have just been going through my books to sort out where each one is distributed. You would be excused for thinking that I'd have them all with the same distributors but I'm afraid it isn't that simple. Due to certain issues about exclusive rights, I have four different distributors and each has a different selection of my books.

Anyway, I have now made one of my books exclusive with Amazon. It is called, "No Fishing In Here : Just Short Stories" and I thought I'd just let you know that it will be available free to download off Amazon for three day this week.

The actual free dates are Friday the 17th to Sunday 19th of April, so if you would like a free copy grab one then.
The book contains a selection of my short stories; some are funny and some are sad, but they are all based around emotions like anger, betrayal and denial. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Oak Box Done

Hi All,
Right, carrying on with the oak box, the next thing I did was to burn in the oak leaves with my pyrography iron. Once I was happy with the pyrography, I gave the lid a coat of ebonising solution. I did this because I wanted the oak leaf inlay to stand out against a darker colour. I don't think it would look so good against a plain oak background.

 Then it was time to carve a couple of acorns. I drew the basic shape of each acorn on a piece of 6mm thick bass wood and then cut them both out on the scroll saw. I did the rest of the shaping with a rotary tool and and finished them off with some pyrography. Below you can see a couple of the stages.
I used wood glue to stick the acorns in place and, while they were setting, I made two hinge posts in a similar way to those I made for a previous box.

The hinge posts, box and lid were then assembled together a everything was clamped into position while the glue set. The rest of the box was then given a coat of the ebonising solution and, after that dried, I gave it three coats of gloss varnish.

Here is a picture of the finished box which I am very pleased with.
 My next post will be something completely different, so I am looking forward to that. If you want to find out more about my books or other pyrography and scroll saw items please click Here.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Oak Box Continued

Hi All, Continuing with the oak box, I cut a piece of 1inch thick oak to match the size of the piece of 6mm oak that I had for the lid and then drew the shape of a box on it.
I then drilled a entry hole for the no9 blade I would be using and then cut out the centre of the box.
Cutting oak is harder than cutting pine, so make sure you have a sharp bladed fitted to the saw or you will get burn marks on your wood. The next thing I did was to give the box a good sandpapering. I started at 180 and then went through all the grades to 240. I could have gone to 400, but oak isn't the best wood in the world for a fine finish. I've never been much for flogging a dead horse so a slightly more rustic feel was okay with me.

With the box done, it was time to concentrate on the lid. I stuck my oak leaf design to the the piece of 6mm Baltic Birch plywood that I was using for the inlay and then Sellotaped that to the oak lid.

Next I did a few test cuts to make sure I got the right angle for the inlay and then I made a start. I drilled a hole at the end of the stalk for the blade, this was a place that would be easy to disguise and it saved me from having to cut a very tight corner. Talking about avoiding sharp corners, you will notice that the black cutting line on my design goes through the acorns, this is done to avoid what would be a very sharp corner between them. The acorns, when I have made them, actually cover that part of the design so it won't be seen.

All was going well until I had the first of two disasters. The fine blade I was using snapped when I was almost at the end of the cut. The air in my workshop turned purple as I let out a string of words that would make a trucker blush.

If a blade breaks when you are doing normal cutting it doesn't matter because you just go back to the blade entry hole and fit a new one. When you switch the saw on, the blade almost follows its own way back to the point of the breakage. However, this isn't the case with inlay work because the work is being cut at an angle, when the blade retraces it steps it will inevitably take off some more wood and the inlay will become a sloppy fit.

I decided the best course of action was to drill a new entry hole at the point of the breakage and disguise it as best as I could. Here is the lid with the inlay in position. If you look closely you can see the entry hole where I started at the end of the stalk and another about an inch before the end of the cut.
Now you may be curious about the gap in the centre. Well, that was the second disaster. Despite doing some trial cuts to get the angle right, I cocked up again and the inlay would not go flush into the wood. I pushed it in as hard as possible but it was still sticking out by about 1mm.  I was now fed up and about to chuck the whole thing in the wheelie, but I decided to take a deep breath and try and rescue it. I used some 120 grit sandpaper to remove a very small amount of wood from around the whole of the inlay and took a bit extra off from the curved area. By removing more wood from that area it gave me a chance to get the inlay to fit something like decently while knowing the gap would be covered by the acorns.

The next thing to do was the pyrography on the leaves and to carve the two acorns which will sit above the leaves. I will show you how I got on in my next post. Just a reminder, if you want to see any more of my work or find out about my books, here is the link to my website.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Oak Box

Hi All
A few weeks ago, I was walking around a shop that sells bric-a-brac and I found a small plank of 1inch thick oak. The price was only £2 so I dug deep into my pocket and purchased it. At that time I didn't know what I would do with it but I thought it would come in handy some day. Well, that day has arrived.

I decided that I would make a small, rustic box from the oak and inlay a couple of oak leaves into the lid. I also thought it would be nice to carve some acorns from wood and stick them on the top. Carving small acorns will be a first for me, so if you follow the rest of this project you will see how I get on.

The first thing I did was sketch the oak leaves that would form the inlay on the box lid. I did the sketch in some detail because it helps with the pyrography work later on. By this I am referring to the shading, which I doubt I would get right first time. If I just jumped in and did the shading with my pyrography iron it would be a disaster especially after I'd cut the inlay. So I sketched the leaves in pencil first and this gave me ample opportunity to practise the shading. Below is the finished sketch.
To produce this sketch there was a fair amount of erasing before I was happy with the composition and the shading. If you look closely at the left hand side you can see some shadow marks where I didn't erase some of the pencil marks properly.

Having produced the sketch my happiness was short lived when I realised that the wood I was going to use for the lid was only 4 inches wide, so my design was to big. The only thing I could do was start again and do a new design that would fit the lid better.
Now you may well be asking what the red dot at the top left hand side is for? That is where the blade entry hole will be drilled when I cut out the inlay. I have mention it before but just to reiterate, Scroll saws will cut sharp corners, but not as sharp as the corner on the end of the leaf stalk. So, by drilling a hole in that position I can cut all the way around the rest of the design without having to worry about sharp corners and end up back at the entry hole.

 You may have also noticed that there is a strange black line going through the acorns.This will be my cut line, and it saves me having to bother with the sharp angle between the two acorns. I can get away with this because I am going to carve two acorns out of wood and they will sit neatly above the curved line.

That's about it for this post, but in the next one the project will get underway and I will start cutting. In the meanwhile, if you want to see some more of my pyrography or scroll sawing work, or even find out about my books, including free offers, please pop over to my website.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Pyrography trinket pot

Hi all,
In my last post I mentioned the various reasons why people do craft work and one of them was to earn some money. Probably not stacks of money, but enough to a least pay for the material consumed by their past time. Some may make a bit more and I suppose it all comes down to a mixture of effort, skill and finding a product that people want to buy.

There has never been a better time for crafts people and artists to sell their work because it can be done over the Internet easily and cheaply. Of course, that brings more competition but if you can provide something unique that people like it is sure to be a decent seller.

I don't have time to make as much stuff as I would like too, and my wife always has first dibs on anything I produce, but every now and again I manage to put up something for sale in my on line shop on It is really easy to set up a shop and it only cost 15p to list an item for 3 months. There is a commission to pay when an item sells, but at only 6% it seems quite reasonable to me.

Anyway, if you have a pyrography iron and want to make something quickly that sells, here are the instruction for making this, "absolutely beautiful little trinket pot."
Those aren't my words, I took them from the review on Folksy that was left buy the purchaser of the last seed head trinket pot that I did some pyrography on. If you are interested in making one to sell or keep for yourself here is how to go about it.

Firstly, you will need a blank pot. These can be purchased from Wood work craft supplies for less than £2.00 each.

Step 1 The lid
Draw four curves on the top of the lid in a symmetrical pattern.

Then do the same around the sides of the pot. You should be able to fit six curves in.
Step 2
Using your pyrography iron, with a spoon tip if you have one, burn a small mark that will represent the seed. Then with the spoon tip inverted, burn the line that leads from the seed. Then, still using the pyrography iron spoon tip in the inverted position burn five short lines from the end of the line in a fan shape. I do the two outside ones first at about 45% and then burn another one in the centre. It is then easy to burn the last two lines between them. This needs to be done quickly on a medium heat setting. When making each burn, put your iron down onto the wood at the top end of the line and then move it away quickly thus making a burn mark that feathers away.
At this stage it looks a bit crude in places, but this project is a quick one and all will be well with the finished project. Once the sides are done it should look something like this.
Right, nearly finished already. With a small brush carefully paint the fluffy bits on the end of the seed heads. You can use acylics or watercolours, the only thing I'd say is this, if you use watercolours, make sure you use a spray varnish. If you use a brush-on type varnish the watercolour paint will come off very quickly.

I used some of my wife's watercolour paints on this pot and then sealed it with a spray varnish. I gave it two coats and it was done.
 My wife kindly put some felt on the bottom of the box and the whole thing was finished. In total, I would say that it took no more than fifteen minutes to create this little pot and I should be able to sell it for three times as much as I paid for the blank pot. I know it isn't going to make me a fortune, but the profit will go towards my next order of materials and that can't be bad.

I will put the box on Folksy in the next couple of days and see if anybody wants it.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Express Pyrography

Hi all,
Some of you may know that I've dabbled a bit in using polymer clay for inlay work to enhance my scroll sawing and pyrography. Well yesterday, I found myself browsing through the craft books section of Amazon and came across a title that made me smile. It was called "Fast Polymer Clay: Speedy Techniques For Crafters In A Hurry".

I couldn't help but grin when I saw the title, because to me, the whole thing about doing any sort of craft work is to take ones time and relax. I know people are in a hurry these days and want to get things done and out of the way, but surely true craft work shouldn't be like that.

But there again, I suppose it depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are a greetings card maker and think crafting is all about sticking a square of material and a button on the front of a birthday card, then that's great if it makes you happy, but please don't send it to me. Thankfully, those who are apt to stick a twig or a pebble on the front of a card and hand it over like its something special will soon get bored with that bit of crafting and move onto something else.

Having given the issue of speed and crafting a little thought, I believe there are basically three types of crafters and artists.

Group  1
These people do a bit of crafting because they thing they should. They fit it in between making the beds and doing the school run. Getting quick results is the paramount objective of these crafters who also have a tendency to flit from craft to craft, often depending on what is fashionable at the time.

Group 2
These individuals are in no particular hurry, they concentrate in making items for their own enjoyment. The doing is often more enjoyable then the end result. This is particularly true of artists regardless of media. If you want proof, take a look at any gallery and see how many works of art fit the following scenario. "It looks very nice, it is well executed, but I certainly wouldn't want it on my wall".

Group  3
They love making things or creating works of art, but the following thoughts are always at the forefront of their minds, "Will it sell and how much for."

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not making judgements about crafters and artists, I'm just categorising them and me a bit. In reality, we all probably belong to more than one group. I've tended to be a half group 2 and half group 3 type of crafter, but I'm moving more and more towards group 2. I also expect those who are now firmly in group 1,will move towards groups 2 and 3 when time allows.

Anyway, my next project will be a short one that will, hopefully, satisfy those in any of the 3 groups mentioned. It is fast, rewarding in terms of aesthetics and it will sell. I will leave you with a photo of the object and I'll show you how easy it is to create in my next post.

By the way, if anybody is interested in providing a suitable home for the rose box from my last
project, I have just listed it in my Folksy shop for a reasonable price.