Peter Lloyd

The Old School House


Tel: (0044) 016977 46698


October 2007

Up to now I've been deleting the 'news on my front or 'home' page and treating this page totally separately. Which seems a bit of a shame as that stuff on the home page is only there for a month (or should only be there for a month) and then it's lost forever....... so from here on in I’m going to put some of it onto this page and maybe expand it a bit.

October’s nearly over and it doesn’t feel like I’ve got any boxes to show for it! Which isn’t to say I haven’t been busy. I just don’t seem to have made any jewellery boxes or ring boxes this month. The first week of October was of course taken up with ‘Origin’. It all happens in a temporary structure in the courtyard of Somerset House in central London. Which is three hundred and something miles and a great deal of traffic away from the sleepy little village of Hallbankgate tucked away in the northeast corner of Cumbria. The two weeks before I went were totally manic; I was convinced I didn’t have enough boxes to take. The event itself was, to be honest a bit boring. I don’t think I’m very good at sitting behind my work looking bright and cheery waiting for someone to speak to me. Then back to the workshop and there’s a mountain of paperwork and emails to wade through. And it’s still there! I’ve spent the last two weeks making new jigs for ring boxes and completely updating the website. I’m going to get to grips with the thingstodo pile today…….

August 2007

Once again it’s been too long since I updated these ramblings. I wonder if I tried to write about the minutiae of day to day box making at would help at all? In other words rather than sit here and try to think what I’ve done over the last three months and how to get it into a few coherent and well rounded sentences I talk about what happened yesterday or what’s on the bench right now. I’ll give it whirl

Must share this quote I came across the other day. It had a certain resonance with the way I make boxes!

“ Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams

Yesterday was on of those frustrating days when nothing much seems to get underway until after lunch. I started early enough. In fact I was in the workshop by 0830 so I can’t blame a desk full of paperwork. I first had to reset the spindle moulder (or shaper – I’m not sure what it should be called since I got a new one). One that was done I needed to figure out the best way to cut the rebate I wanted, then switch on – and it blew its fuse. It’s something that does happen from time to time. The machine is right on the limit of a 13amp fuse. So I found which fuse it was and replaced it. And then other blew. And then a third somewhere else down the line. I’d been meaning to get this machine permanently plugged in for a while but with Carlisle a 24 mile round trip away I’d kept putting it off until I needed to do something else in town. Clearly though I had to do something. So I found the various 16amp plugs and sockets I needed on the computer (how did we find anything before Google?), ordered them and put the lids that needed rebating to one side which was a shame because they were nearly finished. Which meant a sort of a line was drawn so the workshop had to be cleaned up. But it was breakfast time already – about 1030 – which meant back to the desk and while I was there I thought I’d try to get a gas man to come and connect up our new hob in the kitchen. Which took nearly an hour. Are plumbers impossible to get hold of the world over I wonder? Is it an immutable law of nature? Back to the workshop and by the time the place was vacuumed, the tools away and a new box on the bench it was lunchtime. Where does the day go? Can I do any better today? We shall see.

July 2007

“See you in a month” was how I ended in February. It’s now July….. oh well, nobody’s perfect. I know that’s always my excuse but it’s true!

So what’s been happening in the world of boxes in the last few months. Well, just to bring you up to date with the three boxes I mentioned previously. Two of them are now made and delivered and the third is cut up and ready to go. The only slight snag is that there are now four more commissioned boxes that are pestering for my attention.

In February I had a student working here for a week. I think I’m fairly protective of my space. I like being in my workshop alone. I talk back to the radio, I talk to myself and that’s the way I like it even though I sometimes grumble that it gets a bit lonely. Isn’t everybody a paradox? However I got an email from an American student who was studying in Sweden and she wanted to come and make boxes for a week. Well even if it was a total disaster it was only a week so I said yes. And it was a success! Her skills and experience were fairly limited so I decided we’d spend the week concentrating on one type of box. We had a pretty intense week starting at eight in the morning and not finishing most days until after ten but we did take an afternoon off to go paragliding and we even managed to fit in a trip to Hadrians wall.

January 2007

I think that January is a month that can be divided into three halves – well, you know what I mean.

Right at the beginning of the month – in fact I think it was in that dead time between Christmas and new year, I started work on a ring box. For years now I’ve had it in my head to develop a little box. But because people, not unreasonably, expect something smaller to be cheaper, it had to be something I could make reasonably quickly. It couldn’t be a smaller version of a box that I normally make because with the same number of joints it would take the same amount of time. Over the years I’ve made probably over a dozen different prototypes but I wasn’t happy with any of them. They just didn’t have that special quality that I was looking for. I’ve got a shelf full of them. Then around the middle of last year I was asked to make a ring box and the whole small box thing surfaced again. I made the customer her ring box and she was delighted with it but it wasn’t very repeatable. This time I was determined to come up with a design that both looked ‘special’ and was makeable1 Which was how I spent the first half of January 2007. I’m still not quite there but I’m a lot closer and this box definitely won’t end up on the failed prototype shelf.

The next half of January was spent in classic New Year mode. In other words I was sorting out and tidying up. That wasn’t my plan for the middle of January at all but somebody wanted a box in ash and I didn’t have any ash. So I trundled off to get some. The only trouble is that once I’m at the timber yard wandering around all that wood I’m like a child in a sweet shop. I want it all. So naturally I bought too much ash. I also bought some sycamore which I’d need for my ring boxes and I bought too much of that as well. And I couldn’t resist bringing back some walnut that looked interesting. So it was all piled into my long suffering and abused Volvo and hauled back to the workshop. But where on earth could I put it all? It couldn’t stay on the floor so somehow space on the shelves had to be made. So I spent the next week in a total muddle (I hate a muddled workshop) trying to squeeze the proverbial quart into a pint space. Which I did – eventually. Mostly by sawing wood up into box sized bits and carefully labelling and stacking them.

The last half of the month was spent finishing a group of boxes that were on the bench, and had been since before Christmas, so as to completely clear the decks.

Now, finally I must start work on three commissioned boxes that I’ve been putting off for over a year now. I’m not even really sure why I’ve been putting them off – apart from the fact that other boxes come along that are more urgent – but I think it’s more than the squeaky wheel getting oiled; I think there’s something on each of these boxes that I’m a bit frightened of. One of them for example has to have hidden catches, or secret catches. Another is an unusually large box and the third is from HMS Victory oak which is not the easiest wood to make into a box by a huge margin. In fact it’s a pig! But I’ve accepted the commission so I’ve got to get on with it!

Well its February 3rd today so if I upload this now I guess I’ll have done pretty well….But it’s always like that at the start of the year. However the sun is shining and it’s going to be one of those rare winter days that are clear, sunny, light winds and hopefully not too cold. So I’m off to the Lake District to do some paragliding. See you in a month!

December 2006

I know, I know, you're wondering what happened to September, October and November! Well nobody's perfect! I actually think I’ve done well managing to write something for 9 months. I’ll try and do better in 2007 – honest…

As 2006 draws to a close I suppose it’s time for reflection and looking back on 2006 but I have to admit that I’m far more interested in looking forward to 2007 rather than back to 2006.

I’ve been working this last week on a brand new box. Earlier in the year I was asked to make a ring box and a little reluctantly agreed. I liked the result but didn’t really develop the idea sufficiently so as to be able to make them in small batches. The idea of a little ring box though has totally refused to go away and in this funny little period between Christmas and New Year I’ve been working on a new design. It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes to work out a new design, but I’m getting there. So hopefully before too long I’ll have a new page on this web site (provided I can persuade my son to do it for me) dedicated to ring boxes. In fact I’d really like him to make me a Victory box page and a personalise-your-box page. The trouble is he’s in his final year of his degree course so the pressure is on. We shall see.

I’ve also got several boxes that have been commissioned for rather a long time so I really must get those done.

I must go. We’ve visitors coming and we’re off tomorrow night to see in the New Year in Allendale in Northumberland where traditionally the men of the village run around the village square with flaming barrels of tar balanced on their heads before tipping them onto a huge bonfire… It’s all true! I might even put a photo up if I manage to take any good ones.