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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Its pretty amazing what some stick makers can do.

for A 1st class maker have a look at this guy https://www.facebook.com/TheWildStickMaker/?ref=br_rs&hc_ref=SEARCH

We are lucky here the quality of work and materials used and the skill people have developed is top class and doubt that they could be beaten anywhere

there are not so many that use abstract ideas as toppers but rams horn crooks still top my list of sticks there just so tactile

So stick making here is in a healthy state lots of clubs and information around

The British stick making site is useful .but one of the best site on facebook is stickmakers and suppliers always worth a visit

I have looked at the American stickmaking site but sorry to say it doesn't hold a candle to other site which is a pity as there are lots of stickmakers over the pond.

Generally speaking the shanks are thicker than those used here but do have a wide range of different woods available. The tendancy is to use in- straightened sticks .A lot of people think they give character but some seem to go to the extreme and they seem totally unsuitable for the purpose.

the craft of making lanyards is popular which is something rarely used here and the interest in the wood spirit is popular some would say that the wood spirit /gnome and the santa are the same thing just painted differently . Similarity are very much the same but again very popular over the pond

One of the stick which is exceptionally made by some is the snake style and some good examples can be seen but again not seen here?

I just thought the topic would be interesting and open up some form of discussion between members .as most people have there own favourite style but does it lack innovation in making the same type of stick? and should we be thinking outside the box to stimulate interest
 

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You've given me a lot to think about. I'll start with this one though.

"The tendancy is to use in- straightened sticks .A lot of people think they give character but some seem to go to the extreme and they seem totally unsuitable for the purpose."

There is something to be said for a perfectly straight and knot free stick. They're the strongest sticks for their size and species that you can have and they do look nice. I use them when I can get them. They're a rarity in the wild hazel that grows around here but alder saplings are plentiful and straight.

In my opinion crooked sticks do add character-to a point. One of the sticks I made when I was starting was a cottonwood one with a series of doglegs in it. A neat looking piece of wood but I don't use it often. The balance isn't good with it. Lesson learned. A couple small crooks but mostly straight works well-or like my most used stick- one significant dogleg in line with the handle works well. The balance point needs to stay under the handle for the stick to be comfortable.

I don't like bowed sticks. They're inherently weak and don't look good to me. Better to have a couple well defined bends or none at all.in my opinion.

I do like the wizard staff site. I got a good chuckle from the opening line. I can see where the role playing crowd would love them. Thanks for sharing that.

Rodney
 

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If I had three different people look at my sticks, I could probably expect three different choices, crooked, straight or bowed. I think the carved sticks are very unique and eye catching mostly because it is something I have not tried yet. For now, I will with decoration as long as it adds to the purpose of the stick. That means not to much makeup.
 

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Interesting topic, Cobalt.

To a certain degree, I'd have to say that the preference for straight vs. natural might be cultural in origin. Not entirely UK vs. US, perhaps, but more the idea of refined vs. radical. Maybe the desire to tame nature vs. the decision to work with nature. To impose your will on the wood or highlight the trials the tree went through prior to reaching your workbench. It says a lot about the maker as well as the user.

My preference for making is obviously natural sticks. The straighter the better, but I don't let a few curves worry me. As long as the stick is sturdy and steady, I call it a good stick. However, when the gf's horse is finally gone and I get to set up my workshop in the garage, more traditional straight sticks will definitely be something I'll be trying my hand at.

As for a preference for use, I like a straight stick for hiking, but for a cane I do think something with some curves to it is what I'd go for. ( I don't need a stick for physical reasons when I walk the woods, but I do usually take one. More than likely when I am in the woods, the dogs are with me and with all the coyotes, bears and rabid foxes/raccoons around, I feel they are safer.) The stick I use is maple with a natural 90degree root handle. It's about 1" at the tip and maybe a bit over 1.5" where the handle bends. Very stout stick, but I am a fairly stout guy.

All three of these are sturdy and roughly the same height. Which one is the best? I'd say it comes down to personal preference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
try this site for qualityhttps://www.facebook.com/TheWildStickMaker/?ref=page_internal

As you say it is all down to personal preference but iwouldnt even consider using a bent stick .You would never find one from a outlet selling walking aids .they all have a weakness

. A straight stick usually gives more balance on uneven /slippery ground , as for character I would use a carved topper giving that individual look..

I would use a stick approx. 1inch in diameter certainly no larger than 1.5 inches.. a thicker stick doesn't nessecerly mean stronger as the right type of shank makes it.shanks like ash hazel and blackthorn are strong and hazel usually grows pretty straight.over here but America has many different types of wood available to them so most use what is suitable and available

Several people consider a thick strong stick as a deterrent for whatever crosses there path but I wouldn't just bank on it

But I do like to hear others views whether the agree or not

One thing about stick making is we all can fool ourselves into think it looks good and very few people give a honest opinion in case they insult you.

One thing I am surprised on I am a fan of indigenous American art have used there design modified for my own purpose but totem pole and there meaning /skills I do admire so why don't people use there designs modified for walking sticks. There art work is pretty good both in design and colours used I wouldn't call it a craft but art. and that is the difference between walking stick makers how do you define a crafts person from the artist
 

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I think we've had the discussion of craft vs. art before. I consider myself a craftsman, not an artist. For me it comes down to intent. When a craftsman makes a stick, he makes a stick. It must function for it's intended purpose first and foremost. Decoration, if any. comes second.

When an artist makes a stick the priorities change. What the artist is trying to represent comes first. Function comes second. That doesn't mean a stick can't be both functional and artistic. Most hand made sticks are a combination of both.

I admire the British aesthetic of stick making. My work is inspired by it. I like sticks with the bark on them and I like the traditional handle shapes. That doesn't mean I won't throw the occasional dogleg or peeled stick into the mix though.

As far as shank thickness goes, yes, I think mostly we do prefer a thicker shank on at least our hiking sticks. I think as a deterrent they're better for two legged vermin instead of the four legged kinds though. I wouldn't want to take on a bear with any of them.

Rodney
 

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I do have a great deal of admiration for the skills and dedication those in the UK and their devotion to the art of stick making as it has developed over many 100's of years. I have and am trying to develop some of those skills.

But at the same time I do love the free and open excretion and the variety of subjects and shapes used and created by those just as devoted to their stick making skills here as those in the UK. The creative use of unusual shapes in a shank can be a worthwhile challenge. Blending it with a carving and or a topper can take a great deal of effort and skill. Exposing the grain patterns of a shank by removing the bark can offer challenges unseen when the bark is left on a shank. It can require a more careful selection of woods or other topper materials that complement the shanks grain colors and patterns. The carving of the shank will require planning to blend with the shanks grain. Two shanks may have very similar bark color and appearances yet very different grain color and patterns when there bark is remover. Sometimes when I am admiring the craftsmanship and artistry that has gone into Stick I see on the very good sites cobalt has recommended I find myself thinking how much the natural grain of a shank could add to it. But that is the Yankee coming out in me.
When I look at the pictures of some of the great shows in the UK There are a great many and variety of crook sticks as well as carved and painted birds, wild and domestic animals topper with the creative use of different materials. But for the most part the straitened shanks look very similar.

We do not have the advantage of wonderful shows devoted to just stick making over here. But we do have some great wood carving shows. And in the well known wood carving shows there is almost always a good group of stick makes. They demonstrate many of the same skill and devotion to the art as our UK friends. However there is not as much similarity in the style as you see in a UK show. Most will have decretive carvings on the shanks. Generally less toppers but many of the same subjects carved in the top of the shank itself. While you rarely see many crooks there, you will see a large variety wood spirits. Most will be different in expression and detail. Most makers will have used the color and the grain lines to enhance their work.
I respect the structure and rules of proper stick making that has been established in the UK. I have no doubt if we had similar national system of clubs and guilds devoted to stick making we would have our own structured system. But to be frank I enjoy the creative freedom to do both. And I would not want to give up the wide open creativity offered by shanks of all shapes and colors.
 

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I like Rodney's mention of craft vs. art. The sticks I make are by no means works of art. They will serve the purpose for which they are intended, though. I just can't imagine heading for the woods with a ram's horn crook or something with a finely carved topper like Cobalt, Gloops, or Randy(CV3) produce. To me, those are sticks more suited for show; something to take to the county fair or for an evening out. They highlight the skill of the maker. Trying to use them for my purposes would be like buying a Michaelangelo statue just to use it as a paperweight or a doorstop.

In the woods, I want a stick that can break trail, help me vault a stream, etc. I do someday hope to include more artistic sticks in my repertoire, but for now I'll just try to highlight the more natural look.

I have a sketch pad half-filled (or is it half unfilled?) with notes and drawings of more artistic stick ideas which I'd like to try someday. Some of them are what I call "pun sticks." For example: a stick carved to look like a tall stack of different types of cheese would be the Cheese stick. Loaves of bread would be the bread stick.

Or sticks which reflect a favorite hobby.

Oh, and I LOVE the fb site you linked. The wild stick maker does some really amazing work. The Hereford bull in the first picture is so cool.
 

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I have looked at the American stickmaking site but sorry to say it doesn't hold a candle to other site which is a pity as there are lots of stickmakers over the pond.

Generally speaking the shanks are thicker than those used here but do have a wide range of different woods available. The tendancy is to use in- straightened sticks .A lot of people think they give character but some seem to go to the extreme and they seem totally unsuitable for the purpose.

the craft of making lanyards is popular which is something rarely used here and the interest in the wood spirit is popular some would say that the wood spirit /gnome and the santa are the same thing just painted differently . Similarity are very much the same but again very popular over the pond

One of the stick which is exceptionally made by some is the snake style and some good examples can be seen but again not seen here?
We've had this us vs. them discussion before. I think it boils down to what our self image is. What do each of us see as our persona. I dare say, there aren't that many Americans that see themselves as wearing a tweed jacket; some but not too many. How many Brits envision themselves as frontiersmen wearing a buckskin shirt and moccasins? Or a New England woodsman, wearing hand woven cloths and treading quietly through the forest? Maybe these are silly comparisons, but each of us has a world view that affects our choices every day. No one is right and no one is wrong. It's just who we are.

I think if we all made the same market staff with a ram's horn or the same snake stick, it would get real boring.

You know, all one really needs is one of Randy's straight sticks with a nice knob on the top.
 

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So far as the bear deterrent, I recommend a knife. They say if you can stab it 12 times before it kills you, you've set a new record!

;-)

"I think as a deterrent they're better for two legged vermin instead of the four legged kinds though. I wouldn't want to take on a bear with any of them.

Rodney"
 

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My fictitious uncle Wilbur encountered a bear up back in the woods behind where I live. He didn't have a stick or a knife with him for some reason. The bear charged him. The only thing Unc could think to do was ram his fist in the bear's mouth. His hand went down its gullet, through the stomach, through the intestines (both upper and lower) and came out the other side. Unc grabbed the bear's tail and gave a hell of a yank. Turned the bear inside out. It kept running, but it was in the other direction.
 

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As was mentioned many times in this thread, preferences are deeply influenced by the cultural environment and traditions.

The British stick making evolved into an art, where functionality became secondary to the form and the virtuosity of execution.

You don't have many stickmaker's shows in the US, while they became a cultural tradition in the UK.

This definitely influences the type of sticks which are thought of as "presentable", "preferred" and are admired and imitated in the UK.

It is a matter of fashion, influenced by the approval of the higher classes, considered acceptable by societal norms etc.

From functional point of view, the market sticks are dress sticks, not everyday workers.

Even the everyday sticks don't need to be very heavy in the UK. There are no natural predators left in the British Isles, so the sticks main function is to point & signal to the dog, gently nudge a recalcitrant sheep and serve as an occupational symbol.

Try to use a richly carved, horn-topped and painted British market stick while sheepherding in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, where wolves and bears still roam freely and the two-legged varmints are an even bigger threat. No wonder the shepherds use huge, brutish staves as herding sticks there.

Here in the US the sticks are mostly descendants of the hiking saves popularized in the late 19th Century by the nascent outdoor/tourist industry on the US East Coast (Adirondacks etc.). There is a tradition of appreciating the "free-form" sticks, with all the individual variations of the bark or underbark, kinks and twists.

The thicker shanks evoke "manliness", "strength" the feel of ruggedness and individuality of the frontiersmen: all symbols of the "American spirit".

As for the straight vs. crooked shanks, many of the woods available in the US are much stronger than those native to the UK, so even when twisted or crooked, they are more than strong enough to provide a support, even though the balance will definitely suffer.
 

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It's a different variety of hazel (beaked hazel) that grows here than in the UK but my personal experience with it is it's a strong wood that makes a very nice shank. The problem with it is finding a straight enough piece to get a shank from it. It's not coppiced here so long straight clear sections like the British use are rare. Most of what I use will have some knots, scars or crooks in it. We do have a variety of ash here as well. Oregon White Ash. I think other types are common back east as well. It does grow long straight suckers when you can find them and they work well though I think the bark is a little on the tender side.The alder saplings here make great reasonably clear and straight shanks and have a lot of variety in the bark as far as color and texture goes. Probably a better equivalent to British hazel than our actual beaked hazel is.

My point is there are some varieties growing here where you can get a good approximation of a British style stick if you choose to.

Personally, while I admire the British style, I also like to keep my options open too.

Rodney
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Its true that there is no rigth or wrong just opinions

As for sicks in the U.K. that function is a seconadry considerastion is totally wrong .Function is always the 1st priority. but thers no reason why it cant be personalised.

Most of the sticks I have made for people at used for there intended purpose .

The leg cleek is still being used to catch goats and turkeys a friend uses his market stick daily when he walks and trains dogs.as for the others there used when people go walking in the Wolds and the lake district etc.

But I wouldn't tr to fend of a bear with on as for wolves I suppose some are troublesome but in general wolves avoid human contact.

the idea that you have to have a thick stout shank isn't true wouldn't have thought it would make much difference only more difficult and weight y to use its just the idea that it gives more protection.

but its good people use different types of wood shows diversity and adaptability

Most of my carvings, inspiration are based one pictures mostly based on American decoys sites you have such a wide range of waterfowl there and there carvings are second to none that's where the surf scoter came from and the eider and surprised there not used as toppers for shanks very much.

I am working on. Also I have 3 commissions to carve interchangeable toppers for a Aussie

American ash is supposedly stronger than our grown ash apparently something to do with the grain .American ash handles are used a lot here for croquet mallets in particular

I only know the variety of hazel grown locally but they have a wide range of bark colours dependent on where it grown I suppose diamond willow would be the same

certainly would like to get some shanks from it

But one thing is for sure people are passionate about there stick making doesn't matter what side of the pond you live which has to be healthy
 

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I wish Fiery (sp?) still checked in regularly. I would love to see the opinions of people from down under. I'd also like to see Canadian and other makers here. The French used to make some beautiful sticks-at least I think the antique examples I see are. I don't know if their tradition is as well developed as the British tradition is though. The Irish also have their own take on what makes a good stick.

Variety is the spice of life.

Rodney
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
you right about the French sticks they have some good design antiques . But don't seem to see any modern makers wonder why?

The Irish is better known for the shaillaghly they are popular more in America than here I think .Not one of my favourites but still sought after in Irish bog oak
 

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Cobalt, thanks for your input regarding the functionality of the market sticks.

What I meant is that the modern day use of the crook and market stick in contemporary Britain is nowhere near as demanding and strenuous than that of the herding sticks in the past or in other, much less developed countries. Your average British shepherd returns home every night, while the transhumant shepherds in Romania live outside, frequently in densely forested, mountainous areas for months at a time. It is true, that they rarely have to fear wolves or bears, but they frequently have to cross difficult, steep terrains, where a long, sturdy stick would be of more use than an elegant, thin and relatively short market stick. In the plains of Eastern Europe, too, the shepherd sticks tend to bee thinner, slimmer and shorter.

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/ae/59/60/ae59601befaf55e80fd6b485bea31a71.jpg

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/72244000/jpg/_72244018_shepherd624.jpg

While we are discussing the art of stick making, I would like to mention yet another example, that of Hungary.

In 19th Century Hungary herding, and within it sheepherding was still very prevalent.

That coincided with the heyday of folk art there, so stick carving became very fashionable among shepherds.

Shepherds would carve crooks and shepherd sticks for themselves, and also walking sticks for superiors, the lords who owned the herds, clergy etc.

As a rule, the richly carved sticks were carried on holidays and market days, the working sticks were less adorned.

Herding was different then, the herders lived on the fields, far away from towns or villages for most of the year.

Crooks became prevalent in some parts of the country with the arrival of the Western, merino-type sheep.

Shepherds tending to the ancient, more robust and hardy sheep breeds continued to use shepherd staves without crooks.

Here is a link to an electronic copy of an old book on Hungarian Folk Arts:

http://mek.oszk.hu/01600/01671/html/index.html

The examples shown in the illustrations are mostly from the 19th Century.

http://mek.oszk.hu/01600/01671/html/index.html

If you click on the figures, theory pop up in a larger format in a separate tab.

By the early 20th Century the art died out, mostly due to the modernization of animal husbandry.

http://mek.oszk.hu/02100/02115/html/2-1723.html

http://hungaria.org/uploaded/images/.thumbnails/20040406-111958_2.jpg

https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-drZOFaQ7KaM/UlF3y8nHt5I/AAAAAAAAD1E/Sp7C8yV6Oho/s1600/Tompa_00_k.jpg
 

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Cobalt, after re-reading your initial post, I think the reason there is not much "innovation" going on here in the US is simply because there is not much of a market here for newly made British-style sticks.

Americans who are interested in getting a British-style stick will buy from British makers, and British sticks are abundantly imported by American stick sellers.

Most American makers make free-form hiking and walking sticks, shillelaghs and walking canes - the stuff which is in high demand here.

I am sure, if there were a strong incentive, many talented maskers here would offer a large variety and quantity of British-style sticks too.

You are fortunate that you have clubs, societies and promotional events/competitions in the UK, which educate and pass on the traditions & know-how, AND importantly, that sticks are still fashionable - promoted by both your royals and the country gentry.

Here stick making is either a large scale industrial operation (Brazos Walking Stick Co., Whistle Creek Co. etc.), or a one-man operation, practiced mostly as a hobby and rarely as a profitable business.

The potential customers are tourists/visitors of national, state and local parks, who wan't something cheap, a "folksy and outdoorsy" souvenir.

There is simply not much demand for beautifully crafted market sticks, thumb sticks, etc., so why "innovate"?
 
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