Category Archives: January 2014

DIY Projects –

Today I conquered the dishwasher!  The battle was not heated, but it was fought across territory that was very unfamiliar to me.  The fact that I prevailed has surprised me.  The best weapon?  My iPhone.  I was able to take photos of the parts all spread out so that I

DIY DIshwasher cleanout

could check that I had nothing left outside the dishwasher when I thought I had it all back together (surely, someone besides me has had the experience of getting something back together only to find a screw that ought to be attached to something inside whatever you just reassembled?)

Let me share with you that I am a convert to doing routine maintenance on the dishwasher.  Our dishwasher is 7 years old, and I had never before done what I did today. I became aware of the process of cleaning out the dishwasher because the dishes on the bottom rack were routinely coming out of the dishwasher with more debris on them that what they had when they were put in before the wash cycle.  A little research on the web, and I found www.appliancerepair.net/dishwasher-repair.html.  A deep breath, and I was off and running to find the right screwdriver to take on this project.

The disassembly was amazingly quick – I had all the parts removed in less than 10 minutes.  What took a really long time was cleaning the gunk off all those parts!  I spent almost an hour cleaning!  Calcium had built up just about everywhere, and where it wasn’t there were other strange substances: 2 toothpicks, one square plastic clip that comes on loaves of bread, a few strands of alfalfa, 3 or 4 popcorn kernels, and one small plastic tip that had broken off a removable basket from the dishwasher.  No wonder there was water standing in the bottom most of the time after the dishwasher had been run!

Reassembly was almost as fast as taking things apart – about 15 minutes – mostly due to my trying to install one piece too soon and having to take it back out when I realized things were out of order.

I have now run the dishwasher for its inaugural load, and I can honestly say that the volume of noise is significantly reduced, and everything on the bottom rack came out clean!

So, how does this apply to artisan stickwork furniture made from natural materials?  Good question!  It really does.  Stickwork furniture, although fairly rustic and tough stuff in the furniture realm, can still benefit from some routine maintenance, especially if it is being used as outdoor furniture.  Covering furniture for the winter months with a tarp, or relocating to a protected garage or covered patio area is optimum.  Additionally, we like to tell people that a coat or two of Helmsmans Spar Urethane is a great way to give stickwork furniture the advantage in all weather and in all climates.

 

 

What is that Wood? Honey Locust

 

Honey Locust photo by Famartin
Honey Locust
photo by Famartin

Continuing our look at the different types of wood Jeff uses in handcrafting his stickwork furniture, home decor and garden art, today we take a look at Honey Locust.

According to Wikipedia.org, “Honey locusts produce a high quality, durable wood that polishes well, but the tree does not grow in sufficient numbers to support a bulk industry; however, a niche market exists for honey locust furniture. It is also used for posts and rails since it takes a long time to rot. In the past, the hard thorns of the younger trees have been used as nails.”  Nails?  I think Jeff would like to try that!  And, as you can tell, we have figured out that it makes great stickwork furniture!

We like Honey Locust for several reasons: it dries evenly, has a beautiful grain, is very durable, and it is plentiful in our area.  Many farmers don’t want the volunteer trees in their fields, so they are happy to allow us to harvest our materials from what they remove.  Reclaiming branches, roots and tree trunks is good for everyone.

One other tidbit about Honey Locust that would be a great question for Trivial Pursuit: when freshly cut, it emits a smell that is very much like fresh carrot juice.  (Hat tip to Tiffany for figuring out why that smell was familiar!)

What is that Wood? Black Locust

One of the most asked questions about our stickwork creations is, “What wood is that made of?”  The answer to that question can be complicated – but only because many of our pieces are made of several types of wood.  Jeff has made pieces from Black Walnut, Apple, Black Locust, Honey Locust, Maple, Cherry, Hickory -and the list goes on and on.

Since this question is asked so frequently, I wanted to offer a few posts about the woods that Jeff uses the most.  Today I start with Black Locust.

According to http://www.Wikipedia.org: “It is one of the heaviest and hardest woods in North America.  The wood is extremely hard, resistant to rot and durable, making it prized for furniture, flooring, paneling, fence posts and small watercraft.”  Wow – what a great wood!  We think it is very underrated!  That part about it being resistant to rot is especially important for outdoor furniture in more humid climates like Ohio.

Another characteristic of Black Locust is that it grows very rapidly.  If you are a farmer, and you see it in your fields, you are less likely to think so kindly of these trees.  However, that said, Black Locust has a reputation for lasting 100 years untreated in the ground as fence posts – maybe a payoff for growing in unwanted spaces?

 

Bench using Black Locust for seatBench using Black Locust for seat

We find most property owners love to have us harvest the Black Locust from their land, saving them the work, cleaning up the down and dead trees, and providing materials for our furniture.  To us, using Black Locust is an all-around good choice!

Whether the bark is left on or removed using a draw knife, this wood retains a rustic feel that is perfect for rustic style furniture that fits perfectly in a cabin or cottage.

 

Table using Black Locust for frameworkTable using Black Locust for framework

And since the trees were originally native to the southern Appalachian region of the U.S., the wood has a feel that connects at a deep level to mountain decor.  Of course, outdoors, these branches fit right in a garden area and are quite natural on the deck.

What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”     –William Shakespeare

Change: it is not for everyone. However, there are times when change is such a good thing, that we choose to set aside the discomfort of change and bravely move forward.

That is what we have done! We started our furniture business as Old Country Furniture. It worked well for us as we were beginning.  As we developed our style, and tried new things, we realized that furniture ideas were not the only ones in the hopper. While we still love making chairs, tables, rockers and benches, we have found that we also love to make decorative pieces (and some of those have practical uses as well). In this past year we have ventured into making wine racks, plant stands, whimsical wheelbarrows and caveman carts, and baskets.

With the new avenues of expressing our creativity came the realization that our name was limiting us too much. So, after weeks of brainstorming, we decided that Artistic Sticks was a much better fit to describe our approach and our materials.

Many new pieces created!