Friday, December 25, 2015

The Solstice Chair and the Quiet End to this Year 2015.

This holiday, Madelyn and I are here on the lake alone, and the kids off with their own starting new family traditions.  Knowing I would be home most of December, I had time to make a gift for Madelyn rather than buy one.  I had been thinking for a time that I want to this, and now I had time, materials and opportunity.  It all began this summer when I was doing some yard clean up and found out that our chainsaw carved eagles had rotted and had to be turned over to the campfire.   That same day my old ski chair started to collapse under my weight, so I knew it was destined for the fire as well.  This chair I had made at least fifteen years ago and the materials are entirely old Nordic, or cross country, skis.   For years this Adirondack style chair sat on the porch in the weather, and when we moved to the lake, it came with us.  Now that it was sitting on a covered porch the chair lasted longer than expected but I did know it would eventually need to be replaced.
Save it for the solstice fire,” Madelyn suggested, and I agreed.  What better fuel for a solstice fire than wood that has served well in two functions.  Each year we have a gathering on winter solstice and celebrate the cosmic event with friends around the fire.  This year we can’t have our solstice celebration so my old chair lie forlorn on the campfire woodpile under the alders waiting.
Of course, I promised to build another chair from the old skis collected in the loft of the woodshed, but I am a hundred percent guy.  Hundred percent in or hundred percent out.  Right then I was out.  The skis were stacked in the woodshed, more than enough to build another chair.  I had the tools — better than I had when I built the first one — and I had a warm dry garage to work in.  All I needed was the motivation.  Instead of working on the replacement chair, I planned.  Madelyn was going to be laid up after knee replacement and would need to be close to the house for while.  She would be cut off from the garage. That would be perfect time to build the new chair and I could make it a Christmas gift.  “Brilliant,” I said.
The new Solstice Chair
Suddenly it was December, Madelyn had the surgery, and we made it home a week before Christmas.  I suddenly found that the time I was going to “be around the house” was taken up with nursing duties.  In between servicing the ice machine, helping with exercises, changing dressings, tracking and dispensing seven different medicines, making meals, and giving my gal some company, I would sneak out to the garage and tinker on the chair.  Timing was tricky because I worried about sawing and drilling being enough noise to wake Madelyn when she was sleeping.  Those first few days I got her settled on the ice machine or the CPM she would fall asleep.  I was able to strip the hardware from the skis and get my cuts planned.  Eventually time worked out fine, and two days before Christmas the new chair was finished and I was working on a second.  All the time I was working on the first chair I was planning scheming and serving the web for different designs for chairs.  I found one I liked and wanted to try, but I was committed to my own design for Madelyn’s chair.   Now I had the bug, that hundred percent thing had me working mind and body on ski chairs.  I have a goal is to find or develop a simple design that used the least non-ski wood in the construction, simplicity is also important. 
Test chair 2.0
I have made several different chairs in the past and making all the chair parts from skis is challenging because of the shape and curve of a ski they have few straight lines and between skis and brands the curves vary as well.   The current experimental design uses lumber for legs and the chair frame, I can see now how eliminate some of that wood.  This test chair I made from the worst skis I have, and it will be good yard chair.  It is very comfortable and easy to make.  The next one will be of the same design but I will use more ski parts for the framing members.   I am pleased with the results of my flurry of chair building and excited about the more than a dozen beautiful wood skis wait in the woodshed. 

Madelyn is healing fast and we are on our way to a normal routine.  I can see now that it was a prefect timing to have a distracting project like this ski chair to keep me engaged during this different kind of holiday.  Maybe this week I can set my gal in her new chair on the porch and oversee life on the lake in the New Year, 2016 while I burn the solstice fire just a little late. 

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