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Shrink pots for the National and Woodland Trusts

The National Trust and the Woodland Trust have come together in partnership to buy and manage 500+ acres of woodland next to Castle Drogo on Dartmoor. This woodland is mainly a commercial mix of softwoods and was being sold as a great investment for capital growth and sporting potential. What delights me is that another chunk of land is now open to public access and is being managed to increase local flora and fauna. The management back to indigenous woodland will take many years. 
Beccy Speight DG Woodland Trust (left) and Dame Helen Gosh DG National Trust(right) 

Mick Jones (pictured far right) of the National Trust commissioned me to make gifts to exchange between the two organisations. The Trust decided on a couple of shrink pots made from silver birch cut from the woodland. The lids are burr oak from nearby Parke at Bovey Tracey.
The pots were made in 3 weeks from freshly felled wood. This was a bit of a challenge in that I had to force dry the wood, carefully weighing it each day until it reached a stable weight. The pots were left out in the sun during the day and turned round each hour or so.

A link to Adrian’s A Dartmoor Blog – Views of the National Trust’s Dartmoor General Manager., for more information about the celebrations of the partnership at Fingle Woods.

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Shrink pot made from birch and willow

I was inspired to make this shrink pot from the coopered pot in my last post. It was interesting playing around with a different shape. This one is oval and smaller at the bottom tapering to a large top.

The lid is fiddleback willow, cut from a solid plank. The pot is birch and the bottom is willow with an oak peg.

The pot is still in its raw state and will need a finish. I am think of painting the birch on the outside and just beeswaxing the inside and lid.

The pot is 11 cm high and 13 long and 8.5cm deep at he top, so only a small pot.

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Swedish coopered pot and shrink pots

A friend who came to use my workshop to cut out some wooden parts for puppets, bought along this coopered pot. This is a lovely little pot held together with willow bindings. He bought it second hand in Sweden. I especially like the way the lid is held in with a fixed peg on one side of the handle and a removable peg on the other side. The loose peg has defiantly been sawn out with a band saw, and then whittled.

 and with the lid off

I have not done any coopering and I use a different method to make small boxes. I take a log and hollow it out. A groove is made around the bottom and a disc of wood is cut to the size of the hole and fitted into the groove. As the pot dries it shrinks around the disc, holding it firmly.

and again with the lids off

My lids are tight fitting and so need a gentle pull to take them off. I will use the two peg technique on a few shrink boxes, especially those that go travelling in bags, to picnics etc. This way the contents will not be able to spill.
I would be very interested to find out more about shrink pots, in history or links to modern makers. If you have any information then do please let me know.

Above, made from birch.

 Above, willow