Jamie from Ravenbeak in Canada is over in UK for a month doing a couple of bow making workshops at The Longbow Shop, taking in the Mary Rose museum at Portsmouth, the Tower of London and a couple of roving marks shoots with the ILAA.
He wanted it meet up, and as we're well positioned for getting into London on his travels we put him up overnight on Thursday.
It was great, I don't often get to talk at length to a fellow bowyer and he doesn't often see another bowyers workshop. We had a play with all the weird bows and the Chinese Repeater of course. He pulled up all his stuff on the internet and I was green with envy at the quality and quantity of the Yew he has over there... the stuff I get to work with wouldn't even warrant a second glance if he saw it growing. Mind that's not to say we haven't got decent Yew, it's just the availability of it. Running him back to the station on Friday I took a detour and showed him a fine stand of local ancient Yew in a nearby church, I'd forgotten how big the trees were... they are huge. I also showed him a nice row of big coppiced Hazel along one of the cycle tracks which looks like an explosion of bow staves.
My mate JT dropped while Jamie was here to show him some of his Warbows including the biggest I've made (130# Yew) and one of my Elm ones. We were sitting in the sun lounge on the two little sofas Me Jamie JT and Sophie the cat taking the fourth seat looking on with interest as great long warbows were being examined with the prospect of a nock getting pushed through a window at any moment!
We kept him fed and plied him with my home made cider and had a taste of the Plum wine from August, it's still a bit young, but very fruity with a hint of fizz and quite sweet as it's still slowly fermenting. We gave him apple pie and custard as an English pudding... "what's custard?" he asked.
Ah the delights of proper custard!
He was telling us how on the West coast of Canada the climate and vegetation is very similar to here and how our back garden looked just the same as over there... the big difference is the mountains, the Yew, the animal life... it made me want to get off my backside and move! Plentiful Yew and Black bears! What's not to like? he said they don't even suffer from too many nasty poisonous critters like some parts of the world and it's cold enough to season the Yew with the bark on.
The pic' shows us with my two latest bows the Yew molle' and the Yew ELB.
We looked at the badly seasoned stave I'm working on and put it up on the tiller, I'd done a bit of work on it to get if flexing better so he could see what I was working on. We discussed how it was starting to move and he could see my problem of not being able to step back far enough to view it due to the garage being so narrow. I showed him the camera mount on the wall and he could see why it was so useful for me to take video and then review it indoors.
That bow is now at a bout 5" brace and is drawing 50# at 20", some set has returned and I may well heat treat it and pull it straight once it's coming back a bit further. There are still some impressive gracks running through to the pith, but it's generally looking more like a bow. Dunno if I'll ever have the cojones to pull it to the full 32" but we'll see how it progresses. Maybe I'll leave the bit of set/deflex and just straighten the tips, both of which have a little ugly deflex bend.