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My first commissioned project in 2 + years

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Project by recycle1943 posted 10-27-2018 04:16 PM 1670 views 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I normally don’t accept commisioned projects just because I don’t.
However, this Thursday & Friday we were vendors at a very small church boutique. Small may be an understatement because there was only 12 vendors and we were the only one with woodcrafts. This was our second year attending and Mid-way on Thursday an elderly lady approached our tables, admired and commented on more than several items. Then she asked if I did any commisioned work, my response was an immediate negative with the explanation that my regular crafts kept me pretty busy. She then proceded to explain her delimma. For 50 + years she and her family make in excess of 8000 popcorn balls for the holiday season and their stir stick had worn thru and finally broke. She said that same stick has been a reliable tool for 50 or so years and I told her contact the mfg. because it should still be under warranty.
Well, that of of course opened a can of worms that I shouldn’t have approached. It turns out that this lady bought the popcorn business 50 years ago and with it came a couple trailers and one copper kettle along with everything needed to continue the business. When she said that she hoped one of her grandchildern would teach some of the great grandchildren – wait – how many greatgrandchildren are there ? 17 she said. By then I had mustered enough courage to ask just how old she was – 84 was her response. I’d have bet a lot of money on mid 60’s.
So anyway, here I am making her a new popcorn stir stick. I chose white oak because I had some kiln dried shorts I bought 5 or 6 years ago and they were just gathering dust.
I didn’t put any finish on it yet because I’m torn with just what to seal it up with. MY delimma comes from the fact that when they make popcorn balls they stir that syrup in with the stick and inbetween stirring the stick is placed in water and that keeps the syurp from sticking to the stick.
I suspect I’ll end up soaking it in mineral oil since I can’t think of any other sealer that will take the heat of the kettle and the water in the bucket

Thanks for looking and sorry about the long read
Any sealing help or info would be looked upon with eager eyes

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them





19 comments so far

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1593 posts in 750 days


#1 posted 10-27-2018 06:04 PM

You are a good Man, and a soft touch, neither of which are bad traits. I agree with White Oak for it’s strength, ability to work when wet, and it will offer just the right amount of flex. I imagine that syrup is a goooey mess. MO would also be a good choice, really easy to apply, easy to teach what to do to re-apply, and cheap enough you should get good reliability she will re-apply. just tell her it’s for the Great Great Great Grandkids to keep making popcorn balls.

Thanks for posting, and for softening those splintery edges so Granny doesn’t get a splinter.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Bluenote38's profile

Bluenote38

451 posts in 565 days


#2 posted 10-27-2018 07:11 PM

Well, That is a worthy commission. Hope you sign and date it because it may be around for the next 60 – 100 years. :-)

-- Bill - Rochester MI

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

259 posts in 2723 days


#3 posted 10-27-2018 07:26 PM

Awesome story and project…sometimes they just find you.
Good man!

View ralbuck's profile

ralbuck

5293 posts in 2442 days


#4 posted 10-27-2018 09:01 PM

Very interesting story; and a nice “stir-stick-too!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View peteg's profile

peteg

4413 posts in 2999 days


#5 posted 10-27-2018 09:06 PM

I enjoyed your read Dick & your rescue mission for the dear old lady, good man
cheers
pete

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

2439 posts in 1798 days


#6 posted 10-27-2018 09:16 PM

Thanks guys, it was one of those really fun things you get to do every once in a while. Ok – it’s all fun but this project was a LOT of fun

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View anthm27's profile

anthm27

331 posts in 1286 days


#7 posted 10-27-2018 09:58 PM

Great Story Dick, and I wiould bet that not only will the 84 year old lady get a new Stirling stick for popcorn balls, I’d bet that she gets a gift of a hand crafted bowl. How do I know this is because I received a hand crafted bowl when you helped me out.
Well done Dick, great job and a great story.
Cheers
Anthony

View MJR's profile

MJR

186 posts in 590 days


#8 posted 10-27-2018 10:38 PM

Way to save the day and their traditional work Dick!

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

2439 posts in 1798 days


#9 posted 10-28-2018 12:03 AM

Thanks Anthony and Michael

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3261 posts in 3889 days


#10 posted 10-28-2018 02:52 AM

Dick,

I loved your story. Every December for more years than I can remember (I would guess at least 50 years), my folks always treated the family to caramel corn—about 40 5-quart buckets of it! First, it was popcorn balls and then they decided it would be more practical to not form it into balls, so they just made caramel corn.

Last year Mom died so we got together with Dad, made caramel corn, and gave small bags of it for family and friends to take home from Dad’s 100th birthday party. It was a lot of work to make so much with three of us working together. I only then realized all the work Dad and Mom did to make it for family every year—even at 97 and 98!

I can’t begin to imagine stirring a batch big enough to need that stir stick, and getting the caramel incorporated into the popcorn before it sets up (but then I guess not everyone is as slow as I am). Eight thousand popcorn balls would take me all year long to complete!

I just came back from visiting Dad and brought the air popper and some extra dark Karo home with me to make a few quarts to take him for a treat.

I think you’ve made a new friend with that special stirrer. I hope you get to enjoy a few of her popcorn balls!

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

2439 posts in 1798 days


#11 posted 10-28-2018 03:39 AM

LWL – sorry about your mother but happy to hear traditions continue.
The lady asked me why one particular bowl was priced higher than most I told her because I really liked it and didn’t care to sell it.
She offered to buy it and give it back to me if I would make her stir stick – I told her that wouldn’t be necessary and we would talk about it upon her approval of the stick.
She stopping tomorrow to pick it up

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

2732 posts in 2367 days


#12 posted 10-28-2018 11:36 AM

Dick,
This is a nice story to read, shows how we woodworkers are always willing to help others when we can by using our craft. Commission work, was payment a lifetime supply of popcorn? I’d work for that.
As for the finish, your solution appears to me to be the best one. I don’t think any film finish – varnish, shellac or lacquer – will stand up to the hot – cold – hot use and peel off. Actually, no finish at all I believe, would work as well.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

2439 posts in 1798 days


#13 posted 10-28-2018 02:20 PM



Dick,
This is a nice story to read, shows how we woodworkers are always willing to help others when we can by using our craft. Commission work, was payment a lifetime supply of popcorn? I d work for that.
As for the finish, your solution appears to me to be the best one. I don t think any film finish – varnish, shellac or lacquer – will stand up to the hot – cold – hot use and peel off. Actually, no finish at all I believe, would work as well.

- Oldtool

I believe you are right about the finish – I soaked it in mineral oil and I think if they do that before and after they make the popcorn it should last another 50 years.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

117279 posts in 3753 days


#14 posted 10-28-2018 05:46 PM

Cool story Dick and unique project.

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos wood crafting & woodworking classes

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

2439 posts in 1798 days


#15 posted 10-28-2018 06:21 PM


Cool story Dick and unique project.

- a1Jim

Thanks Jim – Just when you thought you’ve pretty much done it all, something new happens

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

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