• rainy williamson

The Ugly Duckling - part II

The UGLY DUCKLING - Part 2 (of 3) (Northumberland - Durham - Innerleithen - Northumberland) by Sue Shaw

Back in October 2019, the search for a space to work on the spinning wheel began. At the same time, I was aware that some work on the flyer, or a replacement flyer, was needed. Via the wonders of the internet, I got in touch with Les Smith, in Durham. I've seen his beautiful woodwork (barrettes, shawl pins, buttons, weaving needles and other expertly carved and polished textile tools….) in person, at local craft fairs and online. I tentatively asked if he could make a new flyer. Les was happy to take up the challenge and returned a new flyer blank, with the original (to work from). Little did I know that this new flyer would need balancing, drilling, shaping and fixing to the 'orifice' and flyer shaft. The learning curve took a steep ascent…..

Meanwhile, back in Northumberland, I approached the owner of the newly refurbished 'Gallery at No.6' in Wooler, about the possibility of using a small corner of the gallery to begin painting the wheel. Kath Maley had refurbished the fantastic gallery space, with it's incredible natural skylight windows, and very kindly allowed me to go ahead.

My original idea was to decorate the wheel in 'Carousel' colours , with fairground lettering, describing each part of the wheel. This could then be used by the future owner of the wheel, to demonstrate at workshops and fairs. I still like the idea, but realised that I'd made a rod for my own back. Instead, I took inspiration from the cloth I was using as a table protector under the wheel. The colours are easy on the eye and I could proceed with a floral frenzy of folk art style painting. Over a few weeks I began painting the wheel in this beautiful, tranquil setting. However…..Galleries are for exhibitions and displays, and as a new exhibition was to open, 'we' needed to find another temporary home.

In January/February 2020, all signs were good for the opening of a new community workshop. Work was being done on a new craft room. So I took the wheel along and managed a few days work on the wheel before 'Corona' put a stop to…...everything. The wheel came home with me. Some serious decluttering meant that I could find a space to work on the wheel. The winter light wasn't really suitable for this kind of work, so the wheel started appearing in the lounge and paints, brushes, water pots and blankets were taking over. As Spring began, the light improved and I could finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

The flyer was still lurking in my mind, and no longer having access to equipment (or the skills) to complete this essential piece of the jigsaw, I admitted defeat and looked to the internet again. My first search on Instagram, took me straight to #thespinningwheelman , Rod Grant. Once again I explained the situation with the flyer and sent the original and the blank up to Innerleithen in Scotland. Rod was incredibly obliging and full of information, encouragement and ideas. Within days, Rod returned the original, refurbished flyer.

The relief of getting to this stage was immense. It was time to put the wheel together; check that everything works as it should and then organise a place to display and demonstrate the wheel, before putting it up for sale...


Many thanks to

Kath Maley Gallery at No.6, Wooler, Northumberland Les Smith Rod Grant

ALL PROCEEDS from the sale will go to the following 2 charities.

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre The only RBST approved conservation centre dedicated to preserving Heavy Horses. We are a registered charity located in Northumberland. 'We have been advised that we WILL NOT receive any government funding or grants as we are being classed as a farm even though we have no farmland or receive any government subsidies.' For further details, click on the following link:-

Aughton Ainsworth International Foundation. 'Nobody is paid a salary. Any money donated is used directly to support the orphanage that we built in Uganda.' For further details, click on the following link:-

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