Day 7 of crafting (16.09.15)

Mark Griffiths   

After a restless night I wake early. Yesterday’s heavy rain has weakened to a light drizzle, glazing Cork’s notorious pavements and making each step perilous.

When I arrive I find Meitheal Mara back to its old self, lots of tea, chatter and the whine of the machine shop. It’s not long before I’m joined by Eoin O’Conaill, he is kindly stepping in to continue recording the project’s progress, allowing Brian to focus on organising the last few hectic days leading to Culture Night.

Photography by Eoin O’Conaill:

I take a moment to check and sharpen the tools, and I’m pleased at how well they are holding up. Yes they show the signs of hard work, resin stains on blades and handles, nicks in the Iron and splits in the wood, yet they still have a crisp, keen edge. With just a small amount of honing the tools are again ready.

I have set aside today to finish shaping the vessels interior. My aim is to carve deep into the sides and floor, giving the observer an impression of how the original looked. Yet if I remove too much material I run the risk of the splits opening up, and maybe this time causing structural damage. It is a fine balance.

Taking a welcome lunchtime break, Ben and I walk to a nearby café. We cross small stone bridges that span the Lee, swollen with rain the river rages below us. Watching the water roll over a weir at a ferocious pace, creating foaming white eddies, I think of the vessel I’m carving, could it really function as a river worthy craft?

The afternoon is spent putting the final detail to the inside of our Pallasboy. After only a few weeks of seasoning there is a discernible difference in the way the wood carves. When freshly felled the soft pulpy timber was easy to part with an axe. However the wood furred and splintered as I worked with the gouge. The timber fibres were now dry and tight, and my cuts crisp and positive. Looking back over my photographs from our visit to the NMI facility in Sword I could see that my later tool marks bore a stronger resemblance to those on the original. Was it also worked on in stages?

As the boatyard workers packed away their tools and started to drift home I made my last few cuts to the interior, blending the sides into the floor. The temptation was to over work the finish and remove any unsightly tool marks, this however would not match what we had witnessed on the original, the interior of which, for some reason, was left rough and unrefined.

Before we left that day I experimented with fixing wedges into one of the cracks. This was a purely cosmetic excise as it would in no way prevent the timber splitting further. Our colleague Aidan O’Sullivan had expressed an interest in the small, almost invisible, wooden wedges found in the crack on the original Pallasboy. Again not intended to stop the timber splitting further, their function would be to prevent the fracture shearing, which could in turn distort the vessels structure. It was agreed that we would cut in a wedge across one of our splits the next day, which would be our last full day.”  

Photography by Muireann Ní Cheallacháin:

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