Oh, Babe!

This chainsaw sculpture of Paul Bunyan awaits to greet any visitors or clients at Blue Ox Millworks. Babe the Blue Ox was not evident.

During our recent Christmas foray behind enemy lines into occupied territory of northern California we had the opportunity and time to do some great sightseeing and such. One trip was to the Blue Ox Millworks (as in Paul Bunyan’s companion “Babe the…”) in Eureka which is both an active vintage millwork shop replicating high Victorian/Gothic carpentry but also cultivating the recovery of “lost” craft traditions.

The main work area for the millwork has an impressive collection of late 19th century technology on display, including about a dozen human powered woodworking machines.

The main building, a re-purposed factory of some sort, is home to a variety of work stations focusing on the restoration of the High Victorian “Painted Ladies” of the Pacific Northwest, including the replacement and replication of fancy trim work, house painting, gilding and sign painting.

One of the surprising work stations was one dedicated to hand weaving of household textiles.

Adjacent to the sign-painting space was the owner’s “mad scientist” lair where he mixes all sorts of earlier technologies, including machine work and paint and varnish making. He was not there when we visited, but I am certain it would have been entertaining to chat with him.

The view from the window in the sign painting studio is pretty darned nice.

Outside in the little craft village surrounding the site was this shrine to the giant redwoods, including this cross-section wafer of the trunk, cut at the 70-foot mark.

A number of smaller studios were scattered about, including ceramics, blacksmithing, decorative metalwork and casting, and plaster work.

A very cool place to visit if you are in the area.