Halfway house

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Back in Bristol now for a while to catch up with other commitments, it’s good to think back over our week in Langport and the long days of making. It was great to have so much interesting company (thanks Cara for all the help with sanding!), and we will try to post some of the stories we collected on the blog over the next few days.

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As Ian says, conditions weren’t always easy (the ice in the top photo came from the top of a bucket in the workshop) – but it was a cheerful place and the work kept us warm. The last day was fantastic, we got loads done and finished off with the ‘knees’ and locker fronts all in place. It was good to see it starting to take on the shape and volume of an actual boat, and to test all the bevels and curves by bending a pliant length of planed timber against all the ribs, to see if they sat flush against each other. (This job takes all four hands, so we don’t have a photo, but it’s very satisfying to see. We’ll try to do it with a friend on hand next time, so we can post a photograph…)

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Turning point

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Today’s session was a really productive one – probably the first time we’ve done more, not less, than we’d hoped. You can’t really see it in the pictures, but the base now has an elegant sweeping bevel to its sides. Once this was done, we could turn the boat, and begin transferring fine measurements and angles to shape the knees, locker fronts, and other components.

boat

We left the boat frame set out ready for assembly, looking somewhat like a primitive space craft, or the fossil of an ancestral fish. At the far left you can see one of the knees in already in position – we couldn’t resist fixing one in place to see what it was going to be like.

dinner

It was a long day at the workshop today, so we were doubly pleased to arrive ‘home’ to the house where we’re staying, and find a surprise gift left hanging from the door handle. We hope it was intended for us… Thank you to the mystery chef!

Measure twice – cut once

 

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Today we had some excellent advice from the Captain. ‘Measure twice – cut once.’ We’ve certainly been double- and triple- measuring most things along the way, and every decision gets thoroughly reviewed by triumvirate. Hopefully we will find it’s all paid off, and our cuts are true.

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Today was quite a scary one – this is one cut we really don’t get another go at. Thankfully, Ian’s skill with the jig saw gave us a beautiful even curve on one side. Jethro’s attempt on the other was slightly wobblier – if the boat lists (or leaks) to port when she’s done, we’ll know who to blame.

boat cutted

You can’t see it in the photos, but we also have a stack of parts ready and set aside – tomorrow will be a day of lots of sanding and planing, as we do our best to make the curves all match…

Boat glue

You know those moments of doubt? When you wonder whether art can ever really be relevant to environmental and social issues, when you know it’s not exactly going to save the earth?

Well. Apparently we have the answer. Gorilla glue can fix it all:

gorila glue

Today’s jobs were what it says on the tin – tough, but effective. The whole base of the boat is now glued, clamped and screwed, and curing overnight ready for cutting out tomorrow.

working together

Thankfully our work was punctuated by visits from a couple of old and new friends – our boat now has the approval of an experienced sea captain. And as if to remind us what the whole thing is about, ‘Planet Earth’ put on a spectacular sunset display to round off a cold but beautiful and productive day.

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Plane sailing…

Today’s been a long day of careful and incremental progress, trimming and straightening the beautiful old red pine planks that will make the base of the boat, to get a nice snug fit.

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We’ve scavenged some great old steel supports to make a level work surface, and are slowly making our way from seam to seam, making sure the joins are true. Tomorrow we hope to piece together and cut out the sections of the base, and hope to end the day with something approximately resembling the bottom of a boat.

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A Four-Seasons Day

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The weather today has provided a perfect backdrop to the drama of starting on the boat. As the bus wound its way down over the Mendips, the Levels were awash with golden light, but by the time we were in Wells it was hailing.

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The stormy skies and half-light of the day made our new workshop seem a bright haven (though not quite cosy enough to risk taking off our coats, hats and gloves)

truck loaded

planks

We spent an exciting afternoon wrestling with timber and getting everything together for the boat, ready for marking out tomorrow. Then, to round off the day, we had a great session with our friends at the Langport Huish Youth Club.

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The adventure of making the boat has just begun.

Some:when gathering and exciting news!

On Saturday we enjoyed another great visit to Somerset, this time to run a workshop more directed to adults in Langport. We wanted to generate a conversation around the project from a different angle, revisiting the history of the Somerset Levels and Moors and looking at poetry, a historical text about Somerset and an image of Bow Street (the main street in Langport) which we found in a visit at the Somerset Heritage Office, to provide inspiration for the discussion.

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texts

The session was really interesting and we talked about all kinds of things: windmills, rivers, water, nature, hydro power, recovery, cycles, boats, history, canals, floods, willow, traditions and many more.

If you couldn’t attend the session and would like to have a look to the resources please do, here isthe link: Some_when_gathering. Feel free to share your thoughts with us!

 

market outside

While we set up the workshop in the Town Hall we looked out on the Christmas market, that we had the chance to visit for a bit afterwards – what an excellent day for it!

We also popped down to visit the river Parrett, in an extraordinary light and  very low water level. This enabled us to see the vegetation at the bottom of the Parrett, which normally gets hidden by light reflections in the surface of the river.

 

river

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(photos taken from Cocklemoor, Langport)

To finish the post, we would like to share our excitement that we’ve found a fantastic space to build the Flatner!  The build will be taking place in the middle of January!!

So if you are as excited as we are, and you would like to know more about it do get in touch – we might even be able to arrange a visit to the site.

 

Workshops at the Curry Mallet Primary School

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Thanks again to the staff and pupils at Curry Mallet Primary School, who hosted us for two really rewarding sessions. We split the day between the older and younger pupils, and worked in groups across year groups to make sure everybody could take part. There were some really creative ideas and compelling images.
One group focused on recalling how the water flowed over a bridge, another set out a detailed landscape of saturated fields trans-sected by brimming rhynes. Others came up with inventive ideas for the future, including an under-water truck like a wheeled submarine, which would remain stable on the ground and not float, as well as a couple of space-borne craft. I was struck by the detail of some children’s observations and recollections – the precise way water over-spills the raised banks of a river, or the fine feathery branches of pollarded willows strung out along a rhyne.

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What an incredible, talented and entertaining group of young artists – we hope to see you all again!

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