Monday, 20 October 2014

More Carved Bowls

I recently found some lovely materials that have lent themselves nicely to some new ornamental bowls. Details on each below:

Above is the front view of an ornamental "bowl". It's designed to either face forwards as shown above or up as a normal bowl. Below is the top view (or side view if used as a bowl).
Made from a spalted maple burl salvaged from the forest where it had been left to rot, carved, sanded and finished with shellac.

Above is a second sculptural bowl made from another spalted maple burl. The picture shows a side view and doesn't clearly show the shape as well as it should, but it is a truly one of a kind item.

I don't usually try to get a particular shape with my sculptural bowls. Rather, I prefer to let the wood define the shape. However, as the cherry bowl above began to take shape it began to resemble a woman's shoe, so that's the shape I went with. Live edge cherry bowl with shellac finish.

I'm not exactly sure what kind of wood this is. I suspect it may be cherry. All I really know is that I found a piece of wood in the forest and when I had finished making sawdust, this is what was left over. Miniature bowl with shellac finish.

A top view (below) and perspective shot of another miniature bowl. Only a few inches across with an amazing colour pattern on the bottom, this one could easily be turned upside down to make an entirely different ornamental piece.

Above and below are top and perspective shots of a bowl made from ash root. You can see the elegant tiger tail pattern in the texture of the wood.

Above and below: What passes for my attempt at an oak leaf shaped bowl. Made from red oak with a shellac finish.

Above and below: Another ash root bowl showing off the distinctive texture and inclusions of the wood.

Finally, the last of the bowls made from spalted maple burl. This one is functional as a bowl but has a very distinctive ornamental appearance.

That's it for this lot. Coming up are some riding toys, my pre-Christmas schedule and more. 

Stay tuned...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Mom Sale in Madoc: Oct. 20th

It's been a while since I've managed a proper post, and I hope to get a few up soon, but I wanted to throw out a quick shout before it was too late.

Tomorrow, October 20th, there will be a "Stay at home Mom" sale at the arts center in Madoc, located in the park at the South end of town.

The sale will run from 9am to 3pm. The idea is that mom's and wives who are at home during the day might have a chance to check out a decent local craft sale before Christmas while hubby and the kids are out at work and school.

Stop by and support the local vendors. I will be there, taking custom orders as well as showing off regular items (and a few out of the ordinary things as well.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Lots of new bowls and Madoc Fair Weekend

So right off the start, it's Madoc fair weekend. Of course if you took the time to read the title of this post, you already knew that (clever folk that you are). 

Needless to say, I will be there all weekend long. I set up my booth this morning, just inside the door to the left. I look forward to seeing some of you there. I'll even throw in a little extra this weekend: if you come to see me at the fair and mention this blog post, I'll give you 5% off any purchase or custom order over $20. 

Now on to bowls. I like bowls. Specifically i like making bowls. There's just so much artistic freedom in making them. To day features some carved bowls that I've made (mostly in the past week.

I live with my family on a lovely bit of mixed forest, where there's always lots of stuff to make into things just laying on the forest floor. However, between May and September the insects are bad enough that it's not really worth the fight to go and get materials. That makes bowl carving from recovered natural sources a somewhat seasonal activity. 'Tis the season!

 These two shots are of a small, shallow oak bowl. The above shot shows the bottom of the bowl, the pic below shows the top. Finished with shellac.

These two bowls were both made from small maple burls. The pics don't do them justice, but they are pure eye candy. Wonderful contrast between the burl wood and the naturally hollowed centers. The one shown above has the bark still on while the one below has had the bark removed and shows some inclusions. Finished with Saman clear gloss.

Red oak bowl with spalted sapwood bottom, hand rubbed finished with Naturoil.

Spalted birch has some of the most amazing and vibrant colours to be found in Eastern Ontario forests. It also presents some difficulties in working it, but I think I've managed to over come those here. Top pic is a shot from above, bottom is more of a profile pic. Finished with shellac.

Pair of white cedar bowls. The longer one is finished with oil and Clapham's Beeswax. The shorter one has a CA glue finish, polished with Clapham's.

Of course that's just in addition to what's already in stock. These are one of a kind so be sure to hurry. The fair starts this afternoon but the inside exhibits (such as myself) will be open tomorrow and Sunday only. See you there!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Custom Sign for the Madoc Market

I'm always thinking about new ways to advertise as well as looking for innovative ways to make things portable. When I travel with my wares I'm typically packed into a minivan, which means there isn't a lot of space, so portable is an issue. 

For some time I've been considering making a new sign for myself, but as I was going through some ideas I was approached by the coordinator of the Madoc Friday Market asking if I could make a new sign. 

The old sign was a small sandwich board that stood no more than 2' tall, with some handpainted lettering that wasn't all that legible from a distance. The Madoc marketplace is located in the middle of downtown Madoc where traffic is often a bit hectic, so the sign needed to be large enough to be both visible and readable from a reasonable distance, even while travelling and paying attention to traffic. 

The sign would also be packed up and put in a car every week, so it had to be portable and relatively lightweight. 

There was also a final consideration: downtown Madoc functions like a wind funnel, channelling winds into strong gusts, so the sign had to be stable enough to withstand the wind, and strong enough that it wouldn't get damaged if it did get blown over. 

The main body of the sign is made from 1/4" plywood, stained dark to allow for strong contrast with the letters. The letters, which are also cut from 1/4" ply, are roughly 5" tall. The frame is 1 1/2" thick with a dado (or slot) cut into it for the plywood to fit into. Nails and Titebond III glue hold the body of the sign together. 

Of course, at this point we only have a flat sign with no support to sit on a sidewalk...

THe base is made from a 2 x 4 with 1 x 4s . The 2 x 4 has a channel cut into it that allows the body of the sign to fit into it snugly. A piece of 1 x 4 sits underneath to provide a solid bottom while some other pieces of 1 x 4 are fastened perpendicular to the base to serve as legs. 

The entire sign is finished with Helmsman Spar urethane to provide a waterproof finish.

The final product was well received by the person who ordered it, and has been well reviewed by the other market vendors. I still haven't decided to make a sign for myself yet, but I do have another reason to have some pride in my work: The week after I made this we had a particularly breezy market day (the sort where things go flying off people's tables). I watched a number of professionally built sandwich board signs in front of various businesses blow over, but mine remained standing (at least until the sign across the street blew over for the fourth time). 

As always, custom work is available. Contact me at

Monday, 15 September 2014

Portable Display Board for Puzzles

So here's how it all happened:

Some time last year I began making puzzles. At first I only had a few but over time the selection grew (I think the current selection is 26 different animal patterns) and as the selection grew, so did the amount of space it took up on my tables, until puzzles alone took up over half a table. 

This on it's own isn't a problem per se, at least as long as I'm doing mostly farmer's markets through the summer, since space isn't much of a problem and hypothetically I could always add another table. There are, however, two long term problems with the situation: 1. the table begins to look too cluttered and 2. table space becomes a factor at craft and gift sales (which dominate my weekends through November and December) when every table costs extra. Clearly a solution was needed for the long run. 

Previously I had made a small display board for my pre-cut inspirational words. This was a small board, maybe 2' high, that had a removable base that attached to a table to maximize space and provide a better display. This had worked out fairly well, but I would need something significantly larger to accommodate puzzles. The words are all roughly 3" whereas the puzzles range in size with an average of around 5" and a few coming in excess of 6". Since i had around 26 different puzzles in stock it made sense to make something that would be large enough to hold all of those and have a bit of space left over. 

I wanted something that would be portable, and given the size I would be dealing with, this meant it would have to either fold up or disassemble. I decided to go with something that could be set up and taken down with little time or trouble, no tools and would fit in the back of my mini van. 

I took an inventory of what I had around the shop for scraps. I had a few 4' long scraps of 3/4" plywood that looked like they'd make a good base, and a 32" x 48" piece of 1/2" ply that would make a great display board. I ripped some scraps of 1" dressed lumber to 1 1/2" wide and rounded over the front edges. 1" x 4"s made supports along the back to provide stability and the entire assembly would be held together with bolts and wingnuts so that I wouldn't have to carry tools around with me. When it was all done the set up time was under 2 minutes and was easily done without assistance from anyone else. 

The final product turned out quite well, I think. If my puzzle inventory increases much more than I can always make another one, but this one should suffice for the Christmas rush (beginning soon) for this year. I set it up at the Madoc Farmer's market on Friday and received a number of compliments.

I will take a quick moment to mention that I do build custom display units for other vendors. I will try to do a post later this week showing another display unit that I made for myself and then for another vendor. Table space is limited for most of us, and showing off our wares isn't always easy to do affordably. If you have a display need, contact me at for a consultation and pricing.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

New Recycled Desk

So here we are again. Three weeks ago my wife and I had a new baby and by strange coincidence I haven't had time to put a blog post up since. Odd...

A little while ago some friends of ours had an old captain's bed that they were going to throw out or burn. I'm a sucker for free wood so I offered to take it off their hands. I figured something would suggest itself as a suitable project for some recycled wood. 

At the same time, I have been wanting to get a proper office done up in the basement where my shop is. I have a computer sitting in one corner of the shop where I spend a few hours a week trying to get all of the dust out of it. We have a room down there that was originally designed as a small home office, but i would need a desk, a chair, some shelves, etc.

After much musing about the size of desk I wanted to make/have, I finally decided that the bed would furnish (pun intended) enough wood for the desk I had in mind. 

 Front view of the "new" desk

It took a lot of sanding to get through the old, amber coloured finish, but the result was worth it. Some beautiful aged pine. The sides of the bed became the top and sides of the desk while the sides of the drawers became the front.

 Top view

At the time these pictures was taken there was still no finish on the desk, just bare wood. I've since put some finish on it but haven't taken any more pictures. These photos don't quite do justice to the texture and colour of the wood (I think the drawer sides might have been cedar) but it does give a rough idea.

From the side

It will likely be a while before my office is done. Time is scarce right now and personal projects don't get to happen very often. Still, it is encouraging to get something done for myself every once in a while and even better when the wood comes free!

A brief reminder that custom work of all sorts is is available. I don't think I've ever had a request I couldn't complete, or a completed project where the customer was dissatisfied. The largest single item I've built so far was a set of 14' long floor to ceiling bookcases; the smallest: a single bookmark.

Send your custom wood working inquiries to for a free price estimate and consultation.

Monday, 11 August 2014

New Baby!

There may be a slight production delay at Maple Ridge Creations over the next little while.

Let me explain:

I have a small, one man basement shop in my house. This means that while I might be feeling particularly industrious at any point in the day, there may be certain delays in production based on the schedule of the rest of my family.

This means that naptime usually precludes the running of the router, bedtime means no bandsaw, no sanding during supper and so on. Sometimes tools can't be run due to noise levels and sometimes I'm just (rightly) expected to be doing something with the family. Both of which are relevant to...

Our new addition! Many of you are aware that my wife has been expecting and Sunday afternoon we received our little Rebecca into the world.

This will mean at least a couple quiet days at the house for mommy and baby. I would ask that you please be patient if you are waiting for custom orders. They might be just a couple days delayed.