We sat around Sharon’s table in November and talked about this; we wrote it in our books and scheduled around it for months; and then we discussed logistics for weeks ahead of time.
And yet… it still seemed unbelievable that we were going to go away to a beautiful place to study weaving with a master and collaborate on an awesome project for an entire week.
Sharon, Martin and I drove up with the Weaving Wagon chassis and Sharon’s bike in the back of my truck — yes, it would have been cool to have biked up and all, but it would have taken us two days each way, leaving only three for weaving. Geoff, hale and hearty, showed us how it’s done by riding his bike all the way from Vancouver to Hornby in one day — and even stopping off at the Metal Supermarket in Nanaimo on the way.
As it turned out, we needed all five weaving days: the first day was slow as we discussed the design of the wickerwork, and then Alastair started training Sharon and I to weave flat… and straight… and square… while he and Geoff and Martin started work on the fittings we needed to get the willow panels onto the metal chassis.
Then we worked 10-12 hours on the next four days in a row, and were darn lucky that both Martin and Geoff were there too. Geoff came prepared to fiddle with the details of the interface between the weaving and the metal work, but he had to leave after two days; and without Martin — whose official role on the project is film documentary, but is such a polymath (and the son of a machinist) that he was indispensable in drilling and fitting parts — I don’t like to think about how long those last two days may have been.
Not to say we didn’t have a few good laughs — Geoff scored a new bathrobe at Hornby’s legendary Free Store, and we all got a kick out of Sharon vacuuming aluminum filings out of the lawn (notoriously house-proud). Martin put in his time at the drill press, but was able to get out and see a lot of the island, and come back to tell us about it. I didn’t mind not seeing much of the island — I was there for the weaving anyway.
By Sunday evening we were in the final stretch: ranging on the last side panel; the aluminum reinforcing bar put in place; bordering off; and then just the cable supports for the side panels being difficult.
AT LAST — the test rides. Assessment: good.
We packed it back on the truck in the gathering gloom under the trees — and though Alastair’s preternatural eye for perfection seemed to be even BETTER in the dark (he saw that I had unwittingly switched from a 3.1 to a 2.1 border on one panel) — we were pleased.
Back in the city, the Weaving Wagon is turning out to be everything we’d hoped for in a pop-up studio/ pick-up truck/ tea service cart, and we’ve already had it out about three times in the first week since we’ve had it. We already have more grand plans for accessorizing it….