Christmastide, the twelve days from Christmas Day to Twelfth Night, is one of my favourite instances of the winter season. The lengthy rush to Christmas is over and, for me, it has all the time been a time to calm down. I spend time out-of-doors chook watching and squirrel wrangling. All of our many oak timber have shed their leaves and the loblolly pines, the magnolias and different evergreens are simpler to see and admire. This is the time of 12 months I prefer to reread a favourite ebook and this 12 months my choice is “The Outermost House” by Henry Beston. January 5, or Twelfth Night, calls for one more learn of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night or What You Will.”
The deconstruction of the partridge in a pear tree includes a dip into one of the origin tales of woodworking from the historical world adopted by an article by a very-much-missed modern-day woodworker.
This is a drama involving gifted inventors, ambition, jealousy, treachery, damaged familial bonds and a goddess. It should be a three-hankie opera, you’re most likely considering. No! That’s very shut, however incorrect. It is a sordid episode from Greek and Roman mythology. The story has two doable endings, neither of which is of specific profit to the sufferer. There will probably be some confusion about the title of the sufferer however it would presumably be made clear for you.
First, we’ll hear from Book V of Diodorus of Siculus (Greek 60-30 BC): “Talus, a son of the sister of Daedalus, was receiving his education in the home of Daedalus, while he was still a lad in years. But being more gifted than his teacher he invented the potter’s wheel, and then when once he had come by chance upon the jawbone of a snake and with it had sawn through a small piece of wood, he tried to imitate the jaggedness of the serpent’s teeth. Consequently he fashioned a saw out of iron, by means of which he gained the reputation of having discovered a device which would be of great service to the art of building. He likewise discovered also the tool for describing a circle and certain other cunningly contrived devices whereby he gained for himself great fame. But Daedalus becoming jealous of the youth and feeling that his fame was going to rise far above that of his teacher, treacherously slew the youth.”
You may know this fresco as The Procession of the Carpenters. In the 19-century museum handbook the fresco is recognized as the Death of Perdix (ought to be Talus) and is described: “This picture represents the murder in the workshop, with apprentices sawing and planing. It is painted on the plane of a catafalque carried by four bearers.” At the forefront of the catafalque we see the scene of the crime. To the left of the apprentice busy planing you’ll discover what seems to be a surfboard. It is Athena’s protect, nonetheless most of Athena herself, not less than in this fresco, has disintegrated. Daedalus is one of her favorites and he or she is aware of what deed he has performed.
Daedalus wrapped the physique of Talus in fabric and rushed to bury him. A passerby was suspicious and requested Daedalus what he was burying. Daedalus mentioned it was a snake and his murderous act was found. Diodorus gives this pithy conclusion: “Here a man may well wonder at the strange happening, that the same animal that led to the thought of devising the saw should also have been the means through which the murder came to be discovered.”
Next, Book VIII of Ovid’s Metamorphosis provides us a totally different ending: “Your sister, Perdix, oblivious to the fates, sent you her son, Talus, to be taught: twelve years old, his mind ready for knowledge. Indeed, the child, studying the spine of a fish, took it as a model and cut continuous teeth out of sharp metal, inventing the use of the saw. He was also the first to pivot two iron arms on a pin, so that, with the arms set at a distance, one part could be fixed, and the other sweep out a circle. Daedalus was jealous, and hurled the boy headlong from Minerva’s sacred citadel, claiming that he had fallen. But Pallas Minerva, who favors those with quick minds, caught him, and turned him into a partridge, masking him with feathers in mid-air.”
Neither of these two illustrations seize the drama of Talus reworking from human to partridge. We want a higher instance of, as Ovid put it, “His inborn energy was transferred to swift wings and feet, and he kept his mother’s name, Perdix, from before.”
This is significantly better. We see Daedalus and the power of the push. Athena (Minerva) is well-positioned on her cloud to save lots of Talus by reworking his fall into the flight of the partridge, Perdix.
One final line from Ovid: “But the bird does not perch above the ground, and does not make its nest on branches or on high points, but flies low on whirring wings over the soil, and lays its eggs in a sheltered place.” Poor Talus/Perdix! Such a gifted inventor. Whether it was the jaw of a snake or the backbone of a fish that served as his inspiration for the noticed we’ll by no means know for positive (delusion).
As for Daedalus, he escaped a extra extreme punishment and was banished from Athens. He ultimately makes his approach to Crete. His story comes full circle when his invention results in the loss of his son Icarus as they attempt to escape Crete.
The Pear Tree
The following article by the late David Savage, founder of the Rowden Atelier & Woodworking School, first appeared in the July 2008 challenge of British Woodworking Magazine. David posted it on his Fine Furniture Maker weblog in August 2008. On his weblog it’s titled “An Article on Pearwood.” He grabs you with the first line and doesn’t let go.
“Pear wooden is one of the most sensual and satisfying of hardwoods that a furnishings maker can encounter. The construction of the wooden is difficult, so onerous that the sharpest of instruments are required to work it. This permits you to lower the most interesting of particulars and type the most delicate of shapes. pear wooden can also be, not like nearly another hardwood, with out determine. I say with out determine which means with out the common graphics of timber. Pear wooden is a timber that hasn’t traces operating by it, however as a substitute has a color shift. The common color of pear wooden is nearly darkish fleshy color, pinky brown is a favourite description. That color can shift orangey or purpley brown on both facet of the most important color. On uncommon events you will get darkish purple, blacky contrasting heartwood color however that’s uncommon. Generally the color of pear wooden is fleshy pink.
Unlike our different unique timbers, pear wooden is a wooden that’s delicate to work. Hand instruments will take silky shavings from pear wooden. There’s no have to scrape and scratch round to take out interlocking grain for there nearly by no means is interlocking grain on pear wooden. It’s what I name a properly mannered wooden. Pleasant to be with. It doesn’t stink or make you’re feeling itchy or scratchy, it doesn’t stand up your nostril, it’s a good wooden to be round. In truth one of the most nice issues about it’s the means it really works. The means tremendous silky shavings will come off with a properly sharpened bench airplane. The means new hues and colors are uncovered with every shaving. Working with pear wooden is a real sensuous expertise, and one which ought to be cherished.
I first got here in contact with pear wooden over 30 years in the past once I examine it in books by James Kenov. I then discovered myself a seller close to Bristol who had just lately felled a small log of English pear. If I used to be ready to purchase the entire lot he would mill it up for me to the sizes I wished. At the time I’d by no means dried any timber earlier than and my London workshop hadn’t a lot house for me, not to mention stacks of half dry timber. But I did have a flat roof that I assumed could be a appropriate place to stack this wooden out. I learn up about learn how to do it, bought the pear wooden house, dragged it up three flights of stairs, stickered it out with 1” sq. sticks at 12” intervals between every of the boards in order that air might get spherical and lined it with a corrugated iron sheet to maintain the direct solar off the boards. I sat again and seemed with satisfaction at my valuable stack of quickly to be beautiful furnishings. About that point an outdated craftsman mentioned one thing to me that has stayed with me. He mentioned “In timber lad there’s as much joy as heartache” and I didn’t know that this was going to be one of these heartache moments. In the Handbook of English Hardwoods which was the reference ebook I used at the time it mentioned “pear wood is timber that is inclined to twist on drying,” which is why I put concrete blocks on high of the drying stack. What I ought to have performed was put two or three tons of timber on the high of the stack as properly. As my valuable pear wooden boards dried throughout that summer season they was uncommon picket propellers. Each board twisted roughly 1” to 2” in every route. I believe I bought a few small items of furnishings from that stack however nothing bigger than a jewelry field. Needless to say that was the final time I’ve tried to dry English pear wooden. Most of my pear wooden as of late comes from Switzerland. The Swiss are great folks they usually develop pear wooden as a shade tree in many of their cities. The pear wooden they develop is steamed as half of the drying course of. The steaming barely modifications the color of the timber from being fleshy pink to a barely darker, redder fleshy pink. The steaming is completed to take away and kill the large borers that may munch their means by the complete tree. I discovered a few of these borers in my stack of pear wooden propellers. They made gigantic holes, not simply down the candy sapwood however proper in the center of the heartwood, and also you discovered them solely by placing the board over the jointer, all of a sudden your immaculate board now had a nice lengthy gap in it and also you’d shaved the high off this residing creature, yeuch! Steamed pear wooden all of a sudden had nice points of interest.
It’s not an infinite tree the pear tree, however I’ve discovered in my time boards coming from Switzerland may be 10’ lengthy and a couple of’6” huge. The bark on the tree is coarse however the sapwood, like cherry wooden, is nearly indistinguishable from the heartwood, which means you need to use the timber nearly edge to edge.
You must watch out what you employ pear wooden for. This is a timber that’s in scarce provide and it’s a comparatively costly timber. Also it’s not accessible in actually massive boards so it might be uncommon to seek out a eating desk being made in pear wooden, actually in stable type, although I’ve seen veneered pear wooden boardroom tables sometimes. Over the years I’ve made small cupboards and small occasional tables and card tables in stable pear wooden and wall hung cupboards and really sometimes chairs, and I can safely say it has been one of the most fulfilling timbers I’ve ever used. Now simply ‘cos I say so don’t exit and trigger a world scarcity by shopping for all of it.
Ted Blachly observe for this bench says, “This bench was made from luscious Swiss pearwood from the Jere Osgood wood collection…A rare treat.”
The subsequent time you hear the first verse of The Twelve Days of Christmas maybe you’ll keep in mind the story of the younger inventor of the noticed and compass and a chook that prefers to remain near floor. And additionally pear wooden that may turn out to be uncommon picket propellers or be well-mannered, produce silky shavings and beautiful furnishings.