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Behind the scenes - Making a Hertswood Airie

We thought it would be nice to show the process of making an Airie, so here's the bit Jonah does: making the pot.

This particular pot is made from storm fallen beech that once stood in National Trust's Ashridge Estate.

Ashridge Estate is my local woodland, it is mainly beech, sweet chestnut, oak, birch and ash. The foresters run the timber yard sustainably, they don't fell trees to fell but rather remove trees that could be a danger to visitors to the estate, or to conserve veteran trees, increase biodiversity or due to damage or disease, such as Ash Dieback.

I bought this tree in 2019 and left logs around my garden, undercover, so fungi could colonise and begin to break down the wood. Beech wood is an attractive deep brown, universal throughout the log usually, but when fungi gets into the wood the wood becomes patterned. The effect is called 'spalting', the black lines are called 'zone lines' and are 'drawn' by fungi to protect their resources from other fungi.

It is quite easy to leave a log too long and the fungi have taken so much of the cellulose that the wood is impossible to turn, although then it is just recycling the wood and nourishing the earth so it aint all bad!

Making an Airie involves sawing the tree down to manageable bits, Airies are great because I can make them from parts of the timber that could otherwise be wasted when making my other products: bowls and vases.

Once I have the wood to size I can turn it on my lathe. First I make it round and turn a tenon onto it so I can turn it around and hold the piece in a four jawed chuck, this allows me to get to the inside to hollow the pot out.

Once the pot is shaped and hollowed I can smooth it by sanding it and then put a hole in for the string that the Airie hangs by, finally I can cut it from the chuck and smooth of the top.

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