Late last year I was fortunate enough to spend a glorious week mooching about and relaxing in Castletownsend, Co. Cork. This beautiful little harbour village was the home of the magnificent Sommerville and Ross, authors of numerous wonderful books, including the Irish RM series.

On my many walks along the beech I was constantly picking up bits and pieces, with the intention of getting all crafty. I came home with pockets full of bits of glass, pottery, porcelain , pebbles and 2 pieces of wood.

Obviously, all my loot is still sitting in little piles in the workshop, untouched and gathering sawdust. Except, that is, for the 2 pieces of wood. I’d picked them up with the intention of making a couple of very rustic carved tampers – it seemed appropriate given their weather worn, salt water battering. How long they had been washing around in the ocean is anyone’s guess, as is the type of wood they are – I have absolutely no idea.

Well, on a quiet evening I decided to set to. The plan was to work very quickly, not to be overly refined, and to use the shape of the wood to dictate the face, beard and hair. (It was actually the shape of the ends of the wood, already showing the tamper/hair shape that first attracted me to the little sticks, and dictating the end result).

I ended up with these:

Driftwood Tamper 1 - Castletownsend

Driftwood Tamper 1 – Castletownsend

Driftwood Tamper 2 - Castletownsend

Driftwood Tamper 2 – Castletownsend

Rustic is what I got – certainly not the most refined, or defined carving – but, to my mind it seems appropriate and works well. The wood has a wonderful tactile quality as a result of its time being washed about in the sea, and is very light. I finished and protected them with numerous coats of Carnuba wax.

Having used them I can say they are really quite special, having deeply contemplative qualities. They’ve encouraged gentle relaxation, drifting off in sweet smoke, reliving long walks, sun, good food and quiet relaxation, entwined with thoughts of ocean voyages of centuries past, Plug and Rope tobaccos, hard work and song.

Not bad for 2 unassuming sticks washed up on a remote beech – happy finds, just waiting to be discovered and treasured. And I do treasure them.

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