Monday, 19 October 2015

Swiss Army Wife

You can't move around here for hammering and sawing most weekends, each month.  I live with a DIH expert - 'Does It Herself'.

The first NZ Gardener project, Dovecote by Rose, Doves by me...
At least a couple of weekends each month are becoming increasingly devoted to bouts of creativity and sometimes farcical photo shoots.
Paint and brushes are involved, but it's not me - it's my polymath spouse who this year became a regular columnist for New Zealand Gardener.  While I pedal my meagre scribblings for free she is commanding a double page colour spread in a glossy magazine each month.

Of course I'm thrilled for her, and constantly astonished by the meticulously constructed and elegantly realised carpentry projects which she appears to conjure into sturdy three dimensions directly from her mind.
I would still be drafting preliminary drawings while she is busy sawing-up lengths of timber and quickly forming the skeleton of a construction she can already vividly see in it's finished form.
If it's not obvious, this is a kind of magic to me.  I could draw you a mean dovecote or wood shelter, but probably never build one - certainly nothing so well-made and fitting so perfectly together as Rose can.

A seletion of 'Tool Belle' pages from Your Weekend
The process actually began a couple of years ago, when the Your Weekend magazine editor wanted to introduce a regular DIY column and, on the strength of articles I'd written about our recent house build, asked me if I was up to it. I had to admit that I wasn't, but I knew someone who was...
And so 'Tool Belle' was born, a two page column which ran every month for a couple of years, ending when Rose decided to bow out with a change of editors.  She felt that she'd done everything she could with Tool Belle, and the projects were taking up an increasing amount of time in the weekends and new ideas harder to come up with.

Some time afterwards, New Zealand Gardener got in touch.  Unlike Your Weekend this is a long-established monthly glossy magazine.  What drew Rose back, apart from slightly more money, was the emphasis on garden-based projects.
Like 50% of the Tool Belle articles, these projects are entirely sponsored by Resene, and so the final construction needs to be suitable for painting. They tend to be larger- scale, more complex carpentry-based assignments and so Rose has developed  relationship with the local timber merchants.

Each project has  'easy to follow' step-by-step instructions -
and most are photographed in our neighbour's beautiful (and sheltered) garden.
On accompanying her on these raw material purchasing missions, the timber yard assistants always used to direct their questions to me; dealing with a woman was somewhat outside their experience.  Those days are well and truly over now.    
In their interaction with what must appear to be a deluded, but determined, lady life-styler, their reaction who has gone from disbelief, to wry amusement, to eventual acceptance bordering on respect - now offering useful tips and recommending new tools for her to buy.

A winter planter, with chickens.
There's no doubt that these projects take up a lot of time, but I'd surmise that they are also very rewarding, and very practical.  The articles appear to be well-received as well, at least one reader having built a wood shelter for themselves.

Enough from me, here's a selection of wooden wonders (click to enlarge)...

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