I had an idea to carve multiple grips on a cube of wood, it is 70mm, just the right size for a handhold. One at a time I persuaded 6 people to grasp the block while I traced around their fingers and thumbs. Carving out search set at a time, I was able to keep the sets from overlapping too much. One grip is like that of a cricket ball, finger tips only, another held it just with thumb and forefinger, then a variety of different holds but only one left-handed. The sizes varied quite a bit too.
I wrote their names near their thumbs whilst I was carving but I might sand those off. It’s interesting that everyone found their finger holds easily if they began by finding their thumb position.
Lime wood is great to begin with as it is very smooth, fine-grained and really quite soft hence easy to cut. I started with learning to cut straight gouged lines along the grain. The wood naturally curls up as it is cut, I thought about leaving the little coils attached as they looked so good but they’re very brittle and would have fallen off very soon anyway.
The pier is boarded out with generously wide pine boards, nailed with large steel brads. Over the years the softer wood has worn away leaving a rich pattern of exaggerated grain and shiny, raised nail heads. At night the boards gleam as though polished by the thousands of footfalls passing over for many decades.
The pier is always busy but on this evening, despite the unnaturally chilly wind, there was to be a free outdoor film screening of 500 Days of Summer on a large inflatable screen. Hundreds of keen film-goers were arriving laden with blankets, folding chairs and snacks. The air was thick with the scents of hot food being prepared at various temporary stalls, no cheap burgers and hot dogs but artisan foods from an array of world cuisines. Wandering further along the pier I was surprised to see a trapeze school taking place, only $60 per hour, I was tempted for perhaps 30 seconds before remembering that at my age it was probably not the best use of my time or money. A student was flying, twisting, spinning and finally diving toward the net where she performed a perfect balletic pose, triumphantly bowing in response to her round of applause. All this was taking place in a half darkness, the pier lit only by feeble white lights somehow lending a timelessness to the scene. There was none of the glitzy brashness of modern America that I was expecting and I was not at all disappointed.