Archive for April, 2014

Making a Maypole with my Daughter (part 3 – The Big Day – Ribbons and kids )

Making a Maypole with my Daughter (part 3 – The Big Day – Ribbons and kids )

Having cut a long slot in the top 1ft of the Maypole to accommodate the ‘crown’ for the pole that carries the ribbons we strapped the pole onto the Nissan a couple of days ahead of the event and toddled off to the Country Fair venue to erect the pole and test drive the fit of the crown. 

We dropped the pole 2ft into the ground to make sue it was as secure as possible. The Crown is a wire frame onto which Willow rods are woven to produce a loose matrix for attaching the dressing later.

The ‘Maypole Song’ text in Welsh and English showed up quite well at head height.

Lisa temporarily fitted the crown (not dressed yet) to the top of the pole and unfurled all of the ribbons to make sure they were long enough and hung properly. This was all new to us so it was a bit trial and error but it worked out really well.

Having tested everything Lisa took the ribbons and crown away and just left the bare pole until the actual day.

Sunday morning 13th April and we arrive on site first thing and set the pole and crown back up again. The crown was dressed with foliage and some flowers. The weather was superb which was a big bonus so the pole all set up, Lisa goes off to set up her craft stall.

There were over 5000 visitors to the country fair and it was a terrific day and the Maypole was used several times by dancers so mission well accomplished…!

Cottage Coppicing:http://

Would we do another Maypole… Well yes actually, it worked out well and wasn’t complicated to do so and having done one now, the next 20 should be pretty easy..!

Thanks for following… Paul and Lisa


Making a Maypole (part 2 – Snedding, Peeling and Pyrographing)

Hmmm.. My small garden looks even smaller with a 15ft Larch tree in it…!

Ok.. so first job is snedding the pole which is code for cutting off the side branches. Larch has a lot of side branches so best tool for the job is a chainsaw as it produces a cut close to the pole with minimum effort.

Larch is a deciduous conifer so no needles to contend with this time of year but the wood is very resinous which makes cutting and working with it a bit sticky at times.

With the snedding done and a quick cleanup later and here we are with a fairly clean pole all ready for peeling which is code for stripping off the bark.

It’s my daughters project so she has the reigns now – Lisa has organised the pole between two shave horses to make it easier to peel. 
The shave horse at the back of the photo is one I made a year or so ago based on a really easy rustic design and if you want to make a shave horse easily then details of how to build it can be found here:…CDbMbB1BDtNbzA

Stripping off the bark can be done a few different ways but Lisa used a draw knife on this pole and apart from around the side branch knots, it was pretty straight forward.


Lisa put the pole aside for a couple of days for the outer layer to dry off a bit and then she did the final finishing over the knots to knock them flat using a hand plane…

We did remind ourselves a couple of times that this was a rustic maypole and not a piece of fine furniture…!

Lisa wanted to add an inscription to the pole that was in keeping with the Maypole and so she researched the history of maypoles and decided on an inscription of the title of a song associated with maypoles.

“The Tree On The Hill” is the title of a maypole song found in various Celtic and Germanic Language groups and it thought that it’s origin was probably Welsh. Of course the Cornish would say it originated there…!

Welsh – “Ar y Bryn Roedd Pren”
Cornish “An Wedhen War An Vre”
Breton – “Ar Parc Caer”

Pyrographing onto a fairly fresh Larch pole proved a little more challenging than first thought as the mass of the moist pole sucked the heat out of the pyrography pen very quickly so it took Lisa a while to finish the work which she inscribed on a spiral baseline in both Welsh and English.

With the inscription completed and a coat of Linseed oil over the whole pole to give it a richer colour it’s time to think about erecting the pole in-situ prior to the event.

The maypole is part of the Torfean Borough Council’s Spring event on Sunday April 13th in South Wales in the grounds of the newly restored Llanyrafon Manor and you can find out more details here:…type=1&theater 

Lisa is donating it from her woodland craft business “COTTAGE COPPICING” :

Come back for part 3 when we will be erecting the maypole and dressing it with the top and the garland ribbons.

Making a Maypole (part 1 – First find your tree)

My daughter was recently asked if she could provide and erect a Maypole for a Spring Rural event in South Wales on the 14th April.

She has her own emerging greenwood/woodland craft business and usually works on smaller craft items so a 14ft Maypole request took her a bit by surprise…!

Anyway, since I haven’t posted anything on my blog for a long time I thought I’d chronicle the way we are building this Maypole in three parts as a way of easing myself back in and in case anyone wants to make one for May Day this year.

First find Your Tree…

We are fortunate to have links with a Woodland community Enterprise in our area who manage a couple of hundred acres of coniferous woodland, mostly Larch plantation but with some pockets of mixed deciduous trees. They have a percentage of trees that get damaged for various reasons, squirrels, wind etc and so we asked them if we could have a straight Larch about 14/15 ft tall with a butt of around 5″ diameter and they were glad to oblige and found us a tree with a damaged top that would have been felled anyway and dropped it for us there and then…
The community woodland Larch does not yet have the Japanese Larch Infection Phytophthora moving the tree of the mountain was not a problem.

So down it came and we hauled it over to the Nissan, strapped it to the roof rack and headed off home to think about what to do next. We decided that we would peel the bark as it would look better so that’s for part 2…

By the way….The more “in the know” of you will no doubt be aware that historically, Birch was the Maypole timber tree of choice but finding one straight for 14/15 ft isn’t easy around here so we decided that Larch was a fair substitute and readily available for cheap or free and this particular one was damaged at the top so was due to be felled anyway.