The Cherry Dancers

Where the cherry tree grew, the forest has not been managed in any way and the trees grow very closely together. I am interested in the curves in the tree and how it has almost curved to live in harmony with the other trees that it has lived beside for maybe 30 or 40 years.

The fallen cherry tree was cut up and split into half logs and stacked in the a log pile and left for about two years.

I pick the wood to split because I can see a curve in it that I like. I am also interested in the knots. Sometimes when splitting a log, I would only get one piece out of it and sometimes none at all since the wood has split in the wrong way. I have ended up with a lot of small pieces of kindling this way.

I use the middle part of split timber and split the wood as thin as I possibly can, though sometimes it doesn’t split sweetly and doesn’t make a popping noise when it comes off the splitter. Sometimes it is too thin and I can’t do anything with it. The piece of timber I am looking for is maybe 6 inches wide, 10 to 12 inches high and an inch to half an inch thick. Sometimes it’s just right and has the curves that I want or that deserves further work with. Sometimes the wood is so sweet and straight that it splits just beautifully and I get two or three pieces together.

When I have a piece of a cherry with the curves that I like the look of, I draw the curve near the outside of the piece of timber because I want to enhance these curves. I cut the curves with the jigsaw then use the drum sander to bring them all on.

I made all of the Cherry Dancers together from the beginning, moving the pieces on at roughly the same pace. Perhaps the next day I will look at them all again and smooth out the curves further and see what I’ve got. Then I draw on them once more to enhance the cut and the lines.

The process is very intense, I want to keep the curves and the spaces between. I hold the pieces up and look at them again. I take off my mask, my ear defenders and my goggles and clear my eyes, because most of the time the dust has built up on the outside of my eyes so I can’t see the work properly. I dust myself down and take the pieces inside to warm them – and myself because I’m working outside all the time where the light is much better. I sit down have a cup of coffee, something to eat and look at them again.

Maybe I will draw round the curves that I still want to keep. Perhaps I will take a piece that wants to go for a walk with a piece of rough sandpaper and sand it as I’m walking with the dogs. I always carry a piece of timber that I’m working on. At this point these pieces are busy and I’m entranced by the curves and the shapes that I want to enhance further so that my hands are used to working with them and feeling them. When I wake up in the night, which I do often, I will reach out to touch and hold it. Then I need to walk away, sleep on it and come back and look at the pieces with fresh eyes.

When I think they are finished, I take them to Voirrey for her to look at and to discuss with her about how we’re going to present them. We talk about them and take photographs of them. I need this space between me and them so I hand the work over to Voirrey to see what she would get out of them, add the soft textile pieces which echo the lines and shapes in the work.

Why do I make them? There is a vibration I can feel, the thrill of making these pieces and the taking of my idea and making the shape. Most of all it is the harmony that was in the tree from the very beginning whilst it was growing, twisting in a certain way to incorporate itself into the forest to live in harmony with the other trees. That is what I’m trying to express. That is the idea that I want to you to feel. The Cherry Dancer that attracts you to it and wants you wants to own it and take it away.