Why Woodcraft?

Northern England in the age of coal.

For brick and mortar breed filth and crime,
With a pulse of evil that throbs and beats;
And men are withered before their prime
By the curse paved in with the lanes and streets.

And lungs are poisoned and shoulders bowed,
In the smothering reek of mill and mine;
And death stalks in on the struggling crowd—
But he shuns the shadow of oak and pine.

—Nessmuk (George Washington Sears)

Preface to Woodcraft

Present Mood, Introspective

I have always liked this image.  It speaks to me…

Arab Mendicant in Meditation Painter, Charles Camino, French b.1824 – d.1888, watercolor over traces of graphite on cream, slightly textured wove paper .

From the description of the Walters Art Museum:

“In this work, the artist depicts the figure in such a way that most of his face is obscured, creating a sense of mystery. Everything we know about the character of this man is expressed though his posture, clothes, and objects, like his bowl containing a few coins. Very little is known about Camino’s training; he visited Algeria in the early 1850s, which inspired the art he made in the decades that followed.”

The past couple years have been a time of transition.  Those can be tough on a soul.

“The Travelling Tinker” by John Burr

The Travelling Tinker

The Travelling Tinker

A painting by the Scottish artist John Burr (1831-1893).  Tinkers were originally tinsmiths or “tinners”.  One of many itinerant jobs pursued by a class of casual laborers.  These were mostly skilled and specialized crafts like basket making, shoe repair, leather work, and metal work but many poorer workers were migrant farm labor picking hops and tending the market gardens during the peak harvest.  The fellow in the image above appears to be a fairly well-off repairman mending a seam in a pot.  This from a time when new items were a rare purchase.

I love deciphering images like this for the details of domestic life.  Unlike most photos, there is real intention in what the artist chose to include or not in the painting.  The house is clearly a poor one but a freshly killed chicken hangs from a nail on the wall by some dry roots.  A handmade broom leans against the wall next to a basket that has the tradesman’s coat lying across it.  The oldest daughter tends the infant while the mother stands by the laundry basin with a toddler behind.  All the children look on while the novel worker plies his trade in a waistcoat and hobnail walking shoes.

A Powerful and Simple Philosophy for a Good Life

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Romani in Switzerland ca. 1890?

As usual with internet information, captions and data are suspect at best.  However, this is a great image of Romani on the road so let’s just go with it.  At first glance, it looks almost like a scene from the American west in the 19th century.  It reminds me of early sheep camp images from New Mexico.  I like the stove set up.

swissromani

Romani in Switzerland ca. 1890?

Another Look

Here’s another look at an image I posted quite a while ago.  I really like this photo.  These Scottish Travellers give a glimpse of some less-than-stereotypical living waggons (sic).  Very few wanderers could afford the classic Dunton Reading wagon but made do with more affordable accommodations; possibly even owner-built.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. Click image for link.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. Click HERE for the source.

All three of the caravans pictured have mollycrofts for light and air but are of a pretty simple variety.  I am struck by the one on the right mostly by how plain it is (plank siding without exposed ribs) and it’s very small proportions.  I suspect there were many more of this variety than the elite, custom-built wagons on the roads in Britain in the heyday.

More Classic Camp Gear from the American West

tumblr_mevzdvFqOL1r6083to1_500I have no information about this image as it was one of those random internet finds.  The gear looks to be from about the turn of the 19th-20th Century and supplies the basics for an American or Canadian outdoorsman.  This would all apply to Mexico as well but as it’s not written in Spanish I think that rules out our southern neighbor as the source.

1, Sleeping Pocket; 2, Compass and pin; 3, Camping mattress; 4, 5, 6, Folding camp furniture; 7, Sleeping bag; 8, Folding baker; 9, Folding canvas cupboard; 10, Vacuum bottle; 11, Waterproof matchbox 12, 13, 14, 15, Canvas water pails; 16, Army (mess) kit; 17, Axe with folding guard;  18, First aid kit; 19, Metal tent peg; 20, Folding lantern; 21, Kerosene stove; 22, Folding grate; 23, Cook kit; 24, Folding baker, canvas case.

Have a Look at the Racy “Waverley Belle” Velocipede

Are you aware, gentle reader, that the bicycle is closely associated with women’s liberation, the suffragettes, and other forms of late 19th century promiscuity and other offensive behaviors among the fair sex?  Or that a truly rideable modern velocipede machine post-dates practical flying machines?  Warning – a little tasteful nudity ahead.

3b49127_thenewwomanandherbicycletherew-tif

Oh! Those suffragettes.  They appear to be incorrigible once they have unbridled transport.

Bicycling was the final straw, so to speak, giving women the excuse to wear (godforbid) trousers, freedom to travel, shop, and generally sever the ties that kept them at home in a modern world.  I am digressing and that will require and entirely separate post, but to the wonderful Waverley Belle…

The following immensely popular sales announcement (to judge by the frequency with which it is displayed) is from a different era of madmen advertisers.  I suspect this titillating placard was intended for a gentleman’s magazine; to be perused at the club or in the office, out of sight from young, impressionable eyes.  I mean, who wants their kid lusting after a seductive beauty at this price?  This ad is clearly appealing to those who are looking get a well-built machine under them with the intent to while away a glorious afternoon.

Go away kids, get your own toys.waverlyBelle She is certainly a superbly constructed beauty comprised of artistic lines and I suspect, is a wonderful ride indeed.  The Victorians clearly appreciated a larger, sturdy frame.  Of course, this one is mostly obscured by the lovely lady acting as a prop (these high-wheelers often had no kickstand you see).

waverleyWaverly (of the Indiana Bicycle Company) seems to have been a high-end and innovative company venturing into automobiles in the heady days of innovation before the Great War in Europe.

Waverley1895-8-9MMThese Indiana boys were not just catering to the men.  In fact, it seems they seem to be early schemers in the arena of target marketing; catering to the tastes of ladies and gentlemen alike from Indianapolis, Indiana to Medford, Oregon and beyond (e.g., France).  These high-end beauties are a bit on the light-heavyweight side compared to our current tastes but are remarkably robust machines offering sturdiness and a joyful ride for a new and modern age.

waverleywoman

Innovation was the by-word in Industrialized America and Waverley was in the game.  Here’s a couple other, family oriented offerings they produced; not bicycles though.

Anyway, I needed to get some of this curated artwork out into the world and my love of cycling has grown inversely to the amount that my current living situation allows it to actually happen without misery, pain, or more likely death.

Below are some gratuitous images of the state of the world once women gain their mobility, trousers, and the right to vote.  Bicycles have been associate with modern thinking, fun, liberation, and even sexual freedom for a long time now.  Enjoy these immodest pictures.

And finally, while doing a bit of late-night image research to establish a firm date for the ad above, I came across the original image used for the Waverley Poster:

waverlyBelle2It doesn’t appear to be a particularly practical outfit for cycling.  Must be French.  I hope to get a load of other images from the era posted in the near future.

Interesting submissions are always welcome

I am pining for the day soon ahead when the freedom of cycling will be back in my life.