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It’s taken me 5 years to get around to restoring this chair. It’s the third of four pieces of furniture I bought in Tarrington, near Hamilton, in June 2011. (The others are a wooden chest , a kitchen chair and a three-legged side table that’s still on my to-do list.)

chair backrest detail finished


Cleaning up the chair

The chair was described by the shop owner as being oak. I could tell it wasn’t but it was solid and I liked the proportions and the carving on the backrest, though not so much the upholstery job.
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On paper this was a basic job: clean up two old blocks of wood, bolt them together and, hey, we’ve got a compact timber side table or stool. In reality, it was an incredibly complicated and time-consuming project that tested our power tool skills and our patience.


side table in action
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It’s been a while between posts but there’s been a lot of sewing going on through the cold winter months. In the last seven weeks I’ve made 9 cushion covers — six for me and another three for sisters of a friend.


finished cushion covers

So many ways to trim and finish a cushion cover

All the cushion covers I’d ever made have had zips across the back panel, not along a side edge — it’s just easier. This time round I played with a few methods:

  • zip across the back panel, piping around the edges
  • zip across the back panel, fringing around the edges
  • three buttons across the front panel
  • zip on one edge, no trim
  • zip on one edge, piping around the edges (this was the most fiddly but also the most satisfying)

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[read Part 1]
We’d never covered a lampshade before. Still, how hard could it be, right? Hmmm … kinda hard actually.


Doing the research

There’s a lot of lampshade-making going on in the world, according to Google. These two sites were really useful – they gave us most (but not quite all) of the information and tips we needed:

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My friend Moira and I have just made ourselves a couple of lamps. We love the results but we don’t think it’s the start of a whole new craft career.


From this:

lamp bases in raw timber state

To this:

two completed lamps

… in just a few complicated steps.

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The cupboard I bought at Mt Buffalo last month is now restored. It took quite a bit of effort for a piece of furniture that is – honestly – not the most brilliant example of cabinetmaking.


It’s hard to imagine what this cupboard would have looked like when it was originally built. There are tell-tale signs that it wasn’t ever intended to be a fine woodworking piece. The cabinet top has a narrow strip of joined wood running across the back edge, as though someone ran out of the right timber, and the whole top has been nailed straight onto the carcass. There are odd gaps and bad joins around the base of the cabinet and the interior varnish has been applied sloppily.

At some stage at least one of the shelves must have been refitted. And the door looks like it got opened back too far one day and it split – it was repaired with glue and nails. Still, the cupboard is part of the Mt Buffalo Chalet story and that makes me happy.

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Some view! Mt Buffalo early on a cold Sunday morning, clouds filling the Ovens valley and the sun shining brilliantly up on the plateau. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, the Mt Buffalo Chalet clearing auction was about to get underway.


mt buffalo - view across Ovens valley

The first I knew about the clearing auction was from an article in The Age last month. I’ve since done a bit more reading. The chalet has had an interesting history. It dates back to 1910 and was ‘the epitome of luxury’ apparently (though the guests who scored rooms with no heating probably wouldn’t have agreed). It closed in 2007 after it came close to being destroyed by the bushfires that took out large parts of the national park in December 2006-January 2007.

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It’s been a while since my last post (summer, new job …) but today’s a public holiday and it’s beautiful outside. Perfect conditions for cleaning wooden chairs with some home-made furniture cleaner. This is yet another tip I picked up during that French polishing course I mentioned in my post about applying beeswax.


all four chairs dirty

I made these chairs back in the 1990s. The wood is Australian ash and I finished them with Danish oil. I’m pretty sure today is the first time I’ve given them a good clean. They’re not really that dirty – except for all the spots where they get handled a lot, in particular the back rails (as you can see in the photo below).

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Are wetsuits REALLY meant to be this hard to get on? My new wetsuit (can I discuss it if it’s not Christmas yet?) is unbelievably tight. But it passed the comfort test last Sunday at an open water swim session hosted by Masters Swimming Victoria at Elwood beach.


Last year my swimming career peaked spectacularly (relatively speaking) when I competed in the Waikiki Roughwater Swim. I say ‘competed’ but that’s overstating it. I jumped in with the rest of the swimmers and hoped I’d make it to the finish line in a time that wasn’t too embarassingly close to the slowest.

I really only need a basic wetsuit – one that keeps me warm and provides some buoyancy so I can pretend I’m faster than I actually am.

Out with the old …

old wetsuitFourteen years is, I think, long enough to remain faithful to a wetsuit that’s looking a bit chunky and tired. I bought this one from Rip Curl in Torquay in 1999. Yes, it’s still working well enough, and the black does go perfectly with my coloured lycra rash vests. And, as I’ve discovered in the last week, it’s a hell of a lot easier to pull on than a fancy thin-skinned, long-sleeved suit.
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Do you ever look at your boxes of family photos and despair about when you’ll ever get around to sorting them out? You know, writing names and dates on the back, putting them in albums, chucking out the ones you look ugly in …? How about scanning them all? Sorry but this post might put you off doing anything.


What started out as a smallish, one-off photo scanning job morphed, over a period of 5 years, into a large, complex project with no end in sight.

edith and loyIn January 2008 I scanned about 200 family photos for my mother’s 80th birthday party to create a slide show. It was a huge success – everyone loved reminiscing over images of weddings, Christmas celebrations, beach holidays, babies and grandchildren. Except I ended up with such a sore arm from all the repetitive work that I needed a long mental break before I could face switching on the scanner again.

I made another start in 2011 and then ran out of enthusiasm as the pile of photos and old documents grew. There was only a bit more progress in 2012, and finally a serious amount of effort this year.

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