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NOVEMBER2011……It is now autumn, the leaves are falling and its time to start cutting a few sticks. I always wait until the trees are becoming dormant, the sticks always season much better. I visited a few local woods where I have permission to cut hazel sticks and have cut about one hundred so far. Once they are seasoned it is suprising to find that so many are unsuitable for one reason or another.

DECEMBER…..I have six horns at various stages of completion to keep me busy at the moment. All are Welsh mountain ram horns & look like making some lovely handles.

I also have orders in for several shepherds crooks. With the popularity of sheepdog trials, television shows like one man and his dog and coverage of the world sheepdog championships many more folk are wanting an authentic rams horn crook or market stick.

JANUARY 2012….We are well into the new year now and stick cutting is well underway. I have cut six to seven hundred sticks by now . I dont usually find much blackthorn but recently found an overgrown blackthorn hedge which with a lot of work has yielded some excellent shanks.

I,m pleased to say there are plenty of rams horns coming my way at the moment. I tend to keep most of the Welsh horn but have some excellent larger Scottish horns too which I will pass on to fellow stickmakers. I’ve had a productive week with not too many disturbances & have managed to complete six more sticks which will be added to the shop very soon. I was fortunate to have a couple of larger horns which I was able to carve a thistle & acorn onto. Both horns were worked in reverse, ie the tip end of the horn attached to the shank which enables me to have the thicker part of the horn at the nose end allowing more material to work with.

MARCH….I have a lot of rams horn coming in at the moment. The Welsh horns are not of good quality just yet but there are a lot of Scottish horns omongst them. I dont use the Scotch horns myself so if there are any stick makers out there who want this type of horn, please get in touch.

I have some nice pieces of antler for thumbsticks which I am working on and these will be listed in the shop soon. The stick cutting season has come to an end & its time to store away all the sticks I have cut over the winter until they are nicely seasoned. I will take a look at them again probably around August 2013.

APRIL…..Busy time in the workshop. I have completed many sticks over the past few weeks. A lot are one piece knobsticks and some stag antler pieces.

MAY….. As usual the shepherds crooks are outselling other types of stick so I have been busy ensuring there is a good stock of new crooks in the shop. The supply of rams horns has dwindled over the last few weeks & very few are available to me at the moment.

AUGUST….. With the weather having been so changeable, many of our local country shows have been cancelled unfortunately. The BASC Welsh country fair at Bodellwyddan did go ahead last month and a good show it was. I was asked to judge the stick making competition ,many good sticks on show but a poor entry of horn handled sticks. It seems many stickmakers these days are primarily making wood handled sticks and not learning the art of stickdressing in horn.

In response to requests I am now holding courses in the art of stickmaking. I can tailor a one day course for complete novices to experienced stickmakers wanting to progress into stick dressing. Please contact me for bookings or further details.

SEPTEMBER…..An enjoyable morning visiting the Risley Moss stickmakers on Sunday 9th giving a talk on horn craft, heating, bulking and shaping of rams horn. A good attendance and hopefully some new converts to the art of stick dressing. My thanks to secretary Geoff Williams for the invitation.

I have booked my stand at the forthcoming Plassey craft fair near Wrexham on the 8th and 9th of December. There will be a huge variety of local craftworkers and local food producers highlighting their goods. For more information visit www.plassey.co.uk

OCTOBER…..A busy month in the workshop completing orders for rams horn crooks for some American customers and a holly knobstick ready to ship to Japan.

The leaves are falling from the trees and its time to start looking for likely places to cut some sticks for next year.