The final harvest was a further three stools, of slightly ‘mixed’ quality, the best in Ash, finished ‘rustic’ – that is with bark left on!
Despite my best efforts, finding a suitable plastic sheet – recycled, or not – from which to cut them remains a problem. Combination of thickness / rigidity / durability / price and availability in suitably small (for the manufacturer) quantities is hard to find.
They are currently produced in plywood, and sold with instructions by RESTORE in Oxford.
My aim now is to spread the word that it is possible – as demonstrated – to create useful things in an environmentally friendly way, and to encourage others to think along these lines. I have continued to exhibit at a number of craft and similar fairs, selling jigs with some success (and being approached for more as presents in the run up to Christmas). This year I am invited to take part in a ‘Festival of Stewardship’ at Falkland in Scotland.
This year there will be a total of five sites where stools will be grown, including the existing one at Westonbirt. One of these will be at a local Primary School, where, by starting with the youngest cohort, I hope to be able to provide the children with finished grown stool frames by the time they progress to Secondary School.
By far the biggest event for us last year was of course a trip to Japan. Three stools were shipped out to Nagoya at the beginning of the year, to be exhibited in the Growing Village Pavilion at EXPO 2005. Unable to go at the best time of year in May, we did manage to get there just before the exhibition closed in September. (A total of nearly 20 million visitors apparently attended the exhibition ! !) The stools were shown beside other grown exhibits from Australia, Israel, Thailand, UK and USA. I was interviewed for several of the media including TV (see picture), unfortunately with unknown results. I also talked to a group of students from the local college who had created 'living sculpures' for the occasion. Two of the stools are now safely returned to UK, the third retained on loan at the request of the organiser of the pavilion, as an example of what can be achieved.