Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Imagine it's World Peace Day

There's so much awfulness going on in the world right now. You would never imagine it's World Peace Day, would you?

Yet all over the world, peaceful celebrations are going on. In the Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan there are colourful paper cranes which have been folded as prayers for peace.

Here in Fribble-under-Par Ursula Makepeace is our wise Unicorn-in-Residence. She is festively festooned for World Peace Day on September 21st.

Ursula suggests we celebrate World Peace Day with a bench and its simple message.

Being a unicorn, Ursula is quite an old girl; several centuries old in fact. She was a hipster back when the peace sign became hip.

She remembers the groovy benches of that time.

And she was there when John Lennon imagined a brotherhood of man way back in 1971. 

Here he is on a bench in Cuba in 2006. You may say he's a dreamer, but he's not the only one.

Ursula has found lots of dreamy idealists who have called for peace.

Someone has taken the time to write a quote about peace from musician Yehudi Menuhin on this bench in Oakland, California: Peace may sound simple - one beautiful word - but it requires everything we have, every quality, every strength, every dream, every high ideal.

The United Way project in Austin, Texas used benches to celebrate the work of Martin Luther King. Like John Lennon, MLK was a dreamer. In fact, he was famous for having a dream. 

He reminded us that we all have our place in history.

Mahatma Gandhi emphasised the need for non-violent protest to change the world.

Throughout history wars have raged in many parts of the world. There are war memorials everywhere, often involving simple benches like these in the Czech Republic.

On these benches in the UK, reminders of war and peace sit side by side on a World War 2 bunker.

And of course, wars are raging still. For too many people, peace seems to be an alien concept.

This is supposed to be a serious post so Ursula thinks I ought to apologise for the pun. Sorry; this guy looks to me like a very peaceable alien. 

And speaking of aliens, here's a little fellow who looks a bit like Yoda.

Yoda says Wars not make one greatHaving survived all those Star Wars, Yoda knows a thing or two about war. And clearly, peace has a lot going for it.

Ursula thinks it's marvelous that despite everything, people still work together on peaceful projects, including benches. 

In St. Petersburg local people created peace benches for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee

Of course, the path to peace isn't straightforward. It's easy to lose direction.

Michael J. Gargano @

Sometimes a simple reminder is needed. That's where peace benches come in handy.

Here is an old relic from the Cold War. The Peace Park was a joint project of students in Seattle in Washington state, and Tashkent in Uzbekistan. The tiles ended up in the park in Tashkent, and later they were in the Peace Park in Seattle.

You can put a peace bench just about anywhere. This street is called Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) in Vladikavkaz, Russia. What a great yellow bench!

Benches are a good way of spreading the peace message.

Ursula has spent a lot of time researching peace benches and she's found a lot of amazing ones.

There's even a Peace on Earth bench project which takes the peace message world wide. Here is a Peace on Earth bench in Nakura in Kenya.

An earth bench is made out of trash and earth (or rubbish, as Ursula would say, because she's British.) The trashy rubbish is stuffed with soft inorganic landfill trash into plastic drinks bottles so that they become compressed like bricks. In fact, they're called bottle bricks. 

Here's a peace bench in the making in Ghana.

Then the bench is plastered with a mixture of clay, sand, straw and water to make a natural cement. This is a finished one in Bolivia.

Peace is kind of a slippery thing to define, yet we all know what it means. You know it when you have it. Ursula reckons it's to do with compassion. And she's found a lovely Compassion Corner bench, another one of the Peace on Earth benches.

For World Peace Day we really need to be international. 
This is the peace bench in front of the Peace Palace in Den Haag in the Netherlands.

Doves of peace often feature on or near the benches. Sometimes the doves actually are the benches.

A dove has landed on this Surreal Peace Chair in Israel.

Here a sparrow is resting in the gun barrel of a tank in Prokhorovka in Russia. What a beautiful symbol of peace!  

Ursula found this beautiful bronze Peace Offering by sculptor Michael Alfano on the Harbor Trail in Newburyport, Maine. The dove conveys hope for peace. Its tail transforms into a hawk, representing hostility. The dove's wings become open hands that can be seen as asking, weighing, or offering, or as belonging to a larger force. The bench welcomes two people to sit down and discuss their differences.

The message from this bench in Adelaide is in Latin. Fortunately, Ursula knows Latin. Pax Vobiscum means peace be with you

These two Buddist monks seem at peace with each other and with the world.

Of course there are different kinds of peace. Many world religions emphasise the need for silence and reflection.

A bench is an excellent place to give yourself time for peace and reflection. This memorial bench reminds us of the value of life and the need for precious moments to revere it.

But where to find a quiet bench to contemplate?

Ah, Grantchester! Of course. There's peace and holy quiet there, as every poet knows. 

This Quaker Meeting House garden in Evesham has a bench, a dove, and an opportunity for silence.

Even within noisy, chaotic cities, a bench can offer a little space for peace.

Keeping the peace requires international cooperation. 

Català: Pau.
Deutsch: Frieden.
Español: Paz.
Français : Paix.
Magyar: Béke.
Bahasa Indonesia: Damai.
Italiano: Pace.
日本語: 平和.
Bahasa Melayu: Aman.
Português: Paz.
Română: Pace.
Русский: Мир.
Slovenčina: Mier.
ไทย: สันติภาพ.
Türkçe: Barış.

Fortunately, the notion of peace is built into the customs of some cultures. In India, the word namaste is a greeting which suggests welcome and peace.

The Thai word wai suggests something similar.

The peaceful welcome hands-together greeting also seems to apply to animals.

This monk keeps giving the peace sign even though he's for sale in a garden centre and has been there so long he has turned to stone.

One way or another, all people are saying is give peace a chance.

Wherever you are, have a peaceful World Peace Day on September 21st.


The Let There Be Peace bench was photographed in 2010 by David Schwartz. It's on his photostream at and he also made it available at Creative Commons where I was delighted to find it.

The Imagine mosaic is in Strawberry Fields in Central Park in New York. It was dedicated to the memory of John Lennon in 1985, when Lennon would have been 45. It is often decorated by Lennon fans. My favourite is the peace sign made with strawberries. This photograph is by poniol60 through

The beautiful paper cranes at the Peace Park in Hiroshima were photographed by Fg2 in 2005.

Ursula Makepeace is our Unicorn-in-Residence here in Fribble-under-Par. She also serves the neighbouring village of Drizzly. Ursula's job is to promote peace, cooperation and creativity in our community which, it has to be said, is not always peaceful, cooperative or creative. If you've read some of the blogs on Benchsite you will know this. Ursula is a wise and gentle presence in our community though. Back in May she brought us some beautiful romantic white benches. She brought us hearty heart benches for Valentine's Day. As an added benefit, her unicorn horn is said to be an antidote to poison. Every community should have one. 

The simple Imagine bench was photographed by Claire Hintze in 2010 in Santa Cruz, California. Claire also photographed the Imagine mosaic, which looked different on the day from the one shown here because people decorate it in different ways; that's what it's all about. Her photostream is at 

The cool upholstered black and white bench with peace signs is from Hudson Goods, who make industrial style furniture which looks vintage but works like new. Their furniture is meant to be lived in, so it is designed to withstand the wear and tear of everyday living. It's made from natural materials with no composites; wherever possible they use reclaimed wood and repurposed products. I saw the stool on Hudson Goods' blog, (February 2010), where they also had a peace chair in the same fabric as the bench.  The blog has loads of interesting posts so if you're a bench or chair geek like I am, it will make you happy. 

The John Lennon on a bench statue was photographed in 2006 by Dr. Adam Jones, who has a particular interest in peace as he is a professor of political science at the University of British Colombia and he writes books about genocide. His website is at www.adamjones.freeservers.comThe photograph of the John Lennon statue is available at The sculptor of the statue is José Villa Soberón, a Cuban artist who is well known for his sculptures around Havana, such as Ernest Hemingway and Che Guevara. The John Lennon sculpture was made in 2000 and is in John Lennon Park in Vedado, near Havana. For many years Lennon's glasses kept getting stolen so in some photos he doesn't have them on.  

Dr. Adam Jones also took the photos of the Cold War tiles from the Seattle/Tashkent Peace Park project . They're from his Flickr photos at  I was also grateful to receive his beautiful photo of the sparrow in the gun barrel of a tank in Prokhorovka, Russia. This was the eastern front of World War 2, where the Battle of Kursk took place between Russian and German armies in the summer of 1943. The German defeat on the eastern front was a turning point in the war.  

Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) was a world class violinist who performed and recorded music for 70 years. He founded the Yehudi Menuhin School and mentored many young musicians of different nationalities. This bench with his quotation is at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. It was photographed by iamsarah in 2008. Sarah's photostream contains all kinds of art, music, cats, dogs, and a lot of interesting views of Oakland.

The Martin Luther King peace bench project produced many peace benches in Austin, Texas in 2008 through United Way for Greater Austin. They describe
Greater Austin as a resilient, innovative, philanthropic, creative and thriving community for all. Their mission is to inspire, lead and unite an eclectic community of philanthropists including individuals, nonprofits, business, and government to overcome barriers to economic opportunities and ensure Greater Austin continues to thrive. You can see all the peace benches and people enjoying making them on their Flickr photostream at

The Gandhi bench with the quotation about change is in the Phinney Ridge neighbourhood of Seattle. It was photographed in 2007 by Wonderland, whose photostream is at It's great to see this image available on Creative Commons.

cs:ŠJů photographed the two benches by a World War I memorial in the  village of Svatý Jan, Příbram District in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic in 2009.,_pomn%C3%ADk_ob%C4%9Btem_v%C3%A1lky.jpg

The benches on the WWII bunker were placed there by Burnham Town Council to provide a quiet spot for contemplating the river. The photograph is Copyright John Myers and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons licence at

The friendly orange alien offering the peace sign is a vinyl decal from Matt Smith in San Francisco. Matt makes bright and clever vinyl decals for walls, laptops, flasks, toilets, upper lips - everywhere you might want to stick a decal. His shop is at

The little fellow wrapped in a blanket is not actually Yoda from Star Wars. He's a Florida Scrub Jay nestling, who was being banded for a bird conservation project in Florida. That was back in 2005, at the time of Star Wars lll Revenge of the Sith. The photograph is by Jennifer Benson, put onto Wiki Commons by Daniel Godwin from Gainesville, Florida.

The photograph of the Peace is kinder, cheaper and more creative sign is by John, aka MTSOfan.   John is a pastor who says that photography isn't just a hobby; it's his attempt at sanity, a diversion in a life with much responsibility, and also a way of looking at the world. 

The Sochi 2014 Organising Committee gave me permission to use the photographs which show them making peace benches in St. Petersburg earlier this year. Their photostream is at The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be held from 7-23 February 2014 in Sochi in Russia. 

The Peace Path direction sign is at the Mount Irenaeus Retreat Center in West Clarksville, New York. It was photographed by Michael J. Gargano for his website at 

The red peace bench was photographed in 2008 by David P at Stickware whose photostream is at  He likes shooting buildings, bridges, and nighttime shots and he likes to do realistic-looking HDRs and panoramic photo stitches. And he likes mysteries, I think, because he hasn't said where the red peace bench was. My guess is Cleveland . . . 

The yellow bench without inscription is in Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) in Vladikavkaz in Russia. It was photographed in 2008 by Мой снимок (Amikeco) and made available at

The Coventry peace bench has appeared on Benchsite before, in the Festival blog, which also features messages of love and peace, though in a festivally, hippie sort of way. Nothing wrong with that, is there? The Coventry bench is on Coventry Road, photographed by THD3 in 2011.  I'm pretty sure that's not Coventry in the UK. That's Coventry in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Liren Chen lives in New York. She has a whole album of 73 Benches on Parade from Rochester and other places in New York. The colourful peace bench shown here is by artist Howie Green and was photographed in Pittsford Plaza in 2010. Its sponsor is EnCompass: Resource for Learning. Lirena's amazing photostream is at

How does a bench create peace on earth? Peace on Earthbenches ( symbolize our collective desire for a more sustainable, more just, and more peaceful world.The Peace On Earthbench Movement (POEM) empowers youth and community members to clean up the environment, repurpose their trash into a building material, learn natural building techniques, and then create a communal gathering area— a Peace on Earthbench—where they can share music, stories, and life. The Earthbench effectively seals trash from entering the worlds’ oceans and rivers while serving a clear artistic, educational, and social function. These benches foster community interaction and collaboration. And when they are completed, they create a place for communal gathering—a reinvigoration of the commons. 

The larger vision is to eventually build 1000 bottle brick benches for peace around the world, and retain one bottle brick from each bench. These bricks will be saved and eventually used to build the 1000th Peace on Earthbench in the Middle East, a global symbol of peace in the most volatile area in the world. The photographs shown are from earth benches in Kenya,Ghana, Bolivia and Davis, California. The text above is all from the website, where you can see videos of the benches being created and find out more about how, why, and where the project works. 

The beautiful mosaic bench is at the Peace Palace in Den Haag in the Netherlands. The Peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial body of the United Nations, as well as other institutions of international law.The Peace Palace opened in 1913 and was funded by Andrew Carnegie as a temple of peace. The bench was photographed by Akbar Simonse, whose photostream is at  He has more bench photos than just about anyone I've found. There are amazingly candid shots of people doing all sorts of things on benches. Lots of the photos are black and white; I could write a colourful story about any one of them. 

The surreal peace bench with dove is in Ein Hod in Israel. It's by American Sculptor Dorothy Robbins, made in 1995 when she lived in Ein Hod and taught sculpture at the university in Haifa. It was photographed by Avishai Teicher  (צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר) in 2011 and made available at PikiWiki - Israel free image collection.  And it's also available at Wiki Commons:   

 The round blue mosaic dove bench is also in Den Haag. This photo is from Matthias Frank's photostream.  He travels widely and there are stunning landscapes of the Scotland Highlands and many other places around the world. Love the winter pictures of Amsterdam.

Michael Alfano's Peace Offering sculpture is 67"x33"x19" and is in bronze or resin. The first bronze casting is on the Harbor Trail in Newburyport, MA and there are resin benches permanently installed throughout the United States in public locations as well as in private collections, and there are some on temporary exhibit. The sculptor would love to see it at the United Nations, among other places. His website and a gallery of his work is at

Here is the Tao te Ching quotation by Lao Tzu, which accompanies the bench:

“Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. 
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid.
           Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice.”

The Pax Vobiscum (Peace be with you) message appeared on this bench in Adelaide in 2011. It was photographed by Mike Cogh and made available on at  Oh, thank goodness for Creative Commons and for people like Mike who allow their work to be posted there. Mike has the most extensive collection of bench photographs of anyone I have found. There are benches from all over the world, all of them beautifully photographed. 

The Buddhist monks were photographed by Very Quiet at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 2009. Originally from Flickr, they are also available at

The Buddhist message about inner peace and its accompanying fork peace sign are by Marlo in Utah, who makes surprising decorations from upcycled vintage silverware. You can visit her etsy shop at

The memorial bench with inscription is dedicated to those who died as a result of the sniper attacks in the Maryland and Virginia during the Fall of 2002. It was photographed in 2011 by Steve, whose Unlikely photostream has an array of colourful people, places, animals, colours, shapes and seasons.

The bench in Grantchester church yard was photographed by Glyn Baker for in 2005 and available through The lines of poetry are quoted from Rupert Brookes's famous poem The Old Vicarage, Granchester, written in Berlin in 1912. You can see the whole poem at

The Quaker Meeting House garden is in Evesham. The photo is the garden in spring.

I found the desolate city bench when searching keywords peace Bench. The bench is on Second Avenue in Central Clydebank and was photographed in 2007 by Stephen Sweeney for It is available at   Though it's not an obvious choice for this blog about peace benches, this bench reminded me that peace can be found in unexpected places.

The namaste greeting by the beautiful smiling child is from North India. It's from

The Wai greeting is from a temple in Thailand in 2002. The photograph was taken by Wouter Hagens  at nl.wikipedia and available at

The greeting animals are apparently in front of a new stadium in Savannakhet in western Laos in 2011. The French photographer is Chaoborus at

The photograph of John Lennon rehearsing Give Peace a Chance was taken by Roy Kerwood in 1969. He owns the copyright of the photo and kindly made it available on Creative Commons at  "taken by me and legally my copyright, there can be no dispute as to my owner ship of this image see of" also "I have conceeded to cc-by-2.5 because I own the copyright"). There are a couple of spelling errors here but you get the message.

The colourful Peace blocks at the end of the post are from Daisy Harper, whose work I use regularly on Benchsite, e.g. the lovely sunflower summer island picnic basket for Lord Brassicas' picnic and also her intriguing Red Riding Hood self-portrait of a picnic in the snow.. Daisy makes homemade gifts with good energy and love. Her shop is at

Below:  Ursula and friends gather around for a peace rally on September 21st. Benches Not Bombs!  Make Benches Not War!  

The baby (on the left) is there demanding a peaceful future for himself and his generation. Likewise, April (age 6), sitting beside him. On the other bench is Tamsin, who lives in a peaceful dreamworld of her own, and Jovi, a rock chick from the 60s. Oh yes, Jovi knows a thing or two about peace marches!  Birmingham (Alabama)? Vietnam? Greenham Common?  She was there. Jovi notes that the marches were long and she could have done with a peace bench along the way.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Workbench Wonders - two husbands, lots of benches

It's September now and many people are returning to school and work. It seems like a good time to have a look at workbenches. Here is The English Woodworker hard at work in his shop.

In contrast to the English Woodworker, my husband, His Excellency, is not a very practical person. Here's what happened when he tried to change a lightbulb in our kitchen.

His Excellency thinks this blog is going to be boring. And I don't think he means 'boring' in the craftsmen sense that The English Woodworker means it.

But His Excellency hasn't seen all the wonderful workbenches I have been collecting. While everyone else was on their summer holidays, I was here at my computer Googling workbenches and work benches and benches work.

His Excellency: I'm bored already.

For writing this blog, I thought it best to get help from Emily Hardhat, who is an old school friend of both my husbands. And she's a qualified engineer. You can tell because she has a bench wrench in her hand.

Here she is in her workshop, making benches for the Fribble-under-Par community project.

Emily is the perfect person to help me pick out brilliant workbenches. For example, here is a very cheerful Little Carpenters workbench.

His Excellency: Just how small is this carpenter? 

Emily says size is not the main issue with workbenches. You can have a modest little workbench . . .

or you can have a gorgeous, humungous state-of-the-art kiln dried ash workbench like this one.

It depends what you need it for.

His Excellency: I don't need it for anything. I'm a philosopher.

This is true. His Excellency is not one for getting his hands dirty. 

The Pilgrim's Progress, 1683

He has, as he puts it, a philosopher's mind and an artist's soul. Neither are condusive to putting up shelves. 

Last time His Excellency tried replacing the toilet roll the results were disastrous.

Emily reminds us that artists need a good workbench.

Van Gogh, for example, was very fond of sketching carpenters and their work. Here is The Carpenter's Yard in The Hague, where Van Gogh lived in 1882.

His Excellency: The people in the laundry next door must get sick of listening to hammering and sawing all day.

No jokes about cutting off ears, please. 

OK. I'd like to see a Van Gogh sketch of a proper carpenter though.

Here you are then, HE. I hope you like what you saw.

His Excellency: I'll ignore the pun and pose a philosophical question: is one- handed sawing a good idea? 

You mean like the sound of one hand clapping?

No, I mean if his hand slips he'll have a nasty gash in those wooden clogs.

I see what you mean. Maybe these crocheted carpenter tools would be safer?

His Excellency: That's a soft option. But I would like to pose another philosophical question: what is a workbench for? 

Funny you should ask. 

Here is a sign warning about the dangers of unsafe practices in the workplace.

Gosh, it makes you realise how important a workbench really is.

This fellow seems to be doing it properly.

In carpenters' terms, he has hit the nail on the head.

In complete contrast to His Excellency, my imaginary husband Mungo is more practical. He did O Level woodwork in school and scraped a pass with his project, which was a birthing stool. 

See what I mean by practical? The 14 year old schoolboy had the foresight to realise that a birthing stool could come in handy at a later stage in his life.

His Excellency:  A coffin will come in handy at a later stage. Why didn't he make a coffin?

In fact, Mungo comes from a long line of skilled craftmen. Here are some of his ancestors fashioning stair spindles for Grinling Gibbons.

You'll notice that the tools here aren't powered for fast work. This photo was taken in 1672 and the stairs aren't finished yet. 

Going back even further, Jesus's father Joseph was a carpenter. Here is Joseph at his workbench. He's making a door, apparently, or maybe one of the gates of heaven.

Little red-haired Jesus has hurt his hand, so Mary is trying to kiss-it-better. 

In reading his school reports, Mary and Joseph became concerned about their son's future.

Joseph was gutted that Jesus chose not to follow in his footsteps.

With Christmas on the way and Santa's elves in charge, it wasn't long before Joseph's workbench became nothing more than a table for the wassail punchbowl.

But I digress.

Mungo's skills aren't limited to woodwork. Here he is at the sturdy workbench in the Tin Workshop where he earned an O Level in Metalwork (grade C).

His Excellency:  And how much use is an O Level in Metalwork I ask you? I didn't get where I am today by having an O Level in Metalwork.

It's true I guess. His Excellency was a rather diligent boy who always got his homework done.

Esbjorn doing His Homework, Carl Larsson

Car mechanics was popular with boys at school. A lot of boys enjoyed standing at their workbenches greasing their pistons.

His Excellency: During the lunch break, a few of us found interesting uses for our workbenches.

Like most boys, His Excellency was interested in cars but he had no talent for mechanics. The teacher took him away from the workbench and got him washing cars. Unfortunately, he wasn't very good at this either.

After another crash, the teachers had a meeting about what to do.

They decided on a science career. In fact, His Excellency and Emily were in the same chemistry class. Emily ensured that they kept a well-organised lab bench.

Then Emily had flu one day and didn't come to school. Whilst testing out the chemical formula for butane, His Excellency had a mishap with the lab bench.

The school didn't fare well either.

After that, His Excellency turned his attention to philosophical debate and he's never looked back.

The girls at Mungo's school did practical skills too. Their workbench was more likely to be a kitchen though.

As girls tend to like shoes, some of the girls opted for shoe repair instead. They liked to stand around the workbench talking a lot of old cobblers.

Like Emily, a few exceptional girls went for the high-end engineering projects. Celestine is rightfully proud of her skyscraper. 

The habits learned at school workbenches are drilled into you. 

Emily shows us her tidy little workbench where she keeps the tools of her trade.

Everything is beautifully organised for easy access and aesthetic appeal.

His Excellency: This is a real work of art. I saw something like this at Tate Modern once. 

Mungo is not very orderly but he's fiercely protective of his tools.

Our house, La Casa Perfecta, gets in a bit of a state at times. Like all other houses, it needs a wee bit of maintenance.

So, very occasionally, my two husbands have to work together on some domestic task. Being the practical one, Mungo does the repairs while His Excellency holds the light, smokes his pipe, and listens to Radio 4.

His Excellency has another philosophical question at this point. 

How do you make a workbench if you haven't got a workbench to use while you make the workbench? In other words, what is the origin of the very first workbench?

I dare say philosophers have pondered this chicken-and-egg type of question since Joseph's time.  

Chelsea is a mother crafter who loves to make useful things for her babybump, who is now a fully fledged child. In February 2011 Chelsea took one bedside table and one afternoon and a lot of creativity and made this lovely little toy workbench for just $20 plus a little more for tools.

People who do practical work and hobbies often dream of having a shed for their workbench. A shed is a retreat for people who work with wood or tin or plants or radios or photography or model rockets. 

Here is Emily's shed.

Mungo's shed is quite unlike Emily's shed. For a start, it is often full of cats.

© Daniel Rutter,

Inside Mungo's shed, an oily chainsaw has pride of place. Useful stuff like rope, paint, blow torch, gas cannisters, and squirrel feeders are randomly clustered around. The proximity of gas cannisters and blow torch is probably something to worry about.

Mungo's workbench is not a thing of beauty or function. Nothing on or around it has any use whatsoever. That roll of lino is from our London kitchen. We left London in 1982.  

That bottle of methylated spirits is so old you could probably drink it with no ill effects. 

Mungo tells me that messy workbenches are a sign of character and productivity. Gardeners' benches, for example, are notoriously haphazard.

Captain F.S. Barnes's workbench was not a model of tidiness when he collected plant specimens on his Oregon expedition.

Even Joseph was messy.

The Acid Workshop where artist Carl Larsson did his etchings was also a bit of a tip.

My Acid Workshop 1910, Carl Larsson 

There are saw shavings all over the floor: this carpenter is getting things done!

It's important to keep motivation for practical jobs so having a nice shed and a strong workbench helps people to roll up their sleeves and get busy on their projects.

Of course Mungo would like a bigger shed. He would like a new vice and lots of screws and a good quality boring tool. But times are tough, as everyone knows. 

As a rather sad end to this story, here is His Excellency breaking the harsh news to Mungo that we can't afford a new shed and worse still, we can't afford a new workbench either.


The story begins with The English Woodworker, a traditional wood workbench maker based in Lincolnshire. The very first image here is the logo of Richard Maguire, The English Woodworker. As a furniture maker by trade, Richard specialises in working exclusively with hand tools. "Being a furniture maker myself I thoroughly understand the requirements of the workbench. After all, the workbench is the heart and soul of my workshop”.

The English Woodworker has the kind of website I can browse in for hours. You can see Richard's range of amazing benches at The benches shown in the Gallery slideshow are truly amazing. These include the Nautilus, shown in the story. Richard also writes a brilliant blog with some basic carpentry advice: When in doubt, give it a clout! Worth remembering.

Emily Hardhat is a civil engineer. She won the Spanner of the Year award in 2013. And she knows a thing or two about bridges. And benches. Bridges and benches go together really well and Emily is keen to show off some of the best bridges and benches around the world. To see Emily's gorgeous and well-engineered bridge benches have a look at

The sketch of His Excellency is The Formalist from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress 1683. It's the best image I have of His Excellency as he refuses to have his photo taken. His Excellency and Mungo, my two husbands, feature in many of the postings on Bench Site (not always with their full agreement). For more about both of them see Who's Who in Fribble-under-Par. And if you'd like the romantic details of my marriages, see how I met Mungo  and how I celebrated Valentine's Day with His Excellency.  

The ruined kitchen was not ours. Mungo photographed it in an abandoned manor house in Kefalonia this summer. You can follow our ill-fated bench-finding mission in Greece at

The cheerful Litte Carpenters workbench and the bright red kitchenette are both from Jamm Toys, who make traditional quality toys, designed by Indigo Jamm in the UK. Noah's Ark, a London bus, tea parties with fluffy cakes - these toys are a real treat.

In contrast to the glamorous and robust wood workbenches, I chose the modest metal frame workbench at random off Google shopping. It's a Silverline TB01 portable workbench which is light and portable and so ideal for DIY jobs at home. It was selling for £16 on the day I found it.

The artist's workbench is a miniature to one inch scale, complete with brushes and artists' tools. It comes from Jill Marquis in New Hampshire. Jill makes all kinds of exquisite miniatures, like little tables and chairs and Welsh dressers -- rustic realism in miniature.

The Vincent Van Gogh paintings and sketches are in the public domain because the artist has been dead more than 70 years. It's just brilliant looking at Wiki Paintings and they're so well organised and informative. Van Gogh did many sketches and paintings of people at work, especially carpenters. I have used the following from Van Gogh's work:  

Carpenter's Yard and Laundry, seen from Van Gogh's room in The Hague in 1882.

At Eternity's Gate, 1890

Man with Saw, 1881

I can make a granny square but mixing bowls, hats, people, monkeys, cupcakes, kitchen appliances and yes, crocheted power tools, Sally at KTB Designs in Ontario can crochet anything. What Sally can't crochet isn't worth having. You'll see a fine array of crocheted everything in her shop at

The warning about working on your knee rather than using a workbench comes from the Office for Emergency Management, War Production Board (01/1942 - 11/03/1945). This workplace poster is thought to be around 1942-43. It's from the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland, available on Wiki Commons at

Emily at BellaBordello sells vintage 1950s greeting cards which are oddly familiar. When I saw the little teddy sawing I thought I recognised him. Indeed, he's a Valentine card and was probably put into my school Valentine stocking in the days when every child had to give every other child a Valentine. If you're from this era you can have a nostalgic trip by looking at The Bella Bordello shop at

Sometimes called The Michaelangelo of Wood, Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721) was a Dutch-born master woodcarver who worked throughout Britain on beautiful wood carvings which still endure. His work appears on staircases, doors, friezes, panelled walls, and throughout Britain's palaces, castles, libraries, churches and cathedrals. The photo showing people doing woodworking is from the Kentwell re-creation in 1991.

John Everette Millais's painting Christ in the House of His Parents (1849–50) depicts the Holy Family in Saint Joseph's carpentry workshop. Jesus is the red-headed boy, who has cut his hand on a nail and yes, Mary his kissing his hand. The painting was extremely controversial when first exhibited, prompting many negative reviews, most notably one written by Charles Dickens. It catapulted the previously obscure Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to notoriety and was a major contributor to the debate about Realism in the arts. It is currently housed in the Tate Britain in London. The painting and the comment above are from

Two images in this story are from Gutenberg Press. Under the terms of the license, This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at

The eBooks referred to from Project Gutenberg are the following:

The picture of Joseph and Mary considering the school report is actually from A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson, illustrated by F.C. Yohn and published in 1912. 

The final picture of Mungo and His Excellency is from Project Gutenberg's 
Astounding Stories of Super-Science, published in July 1930 and edited by 
Harry Bates. The stories were written by various authors; this one is The Power
and the Glory  by Charles W. Diffin. The subtitle of the story might apply to His 
Excellency, Mungo, or indeed, Jesus: Sadly, sternly, the old professor reveals to 
his brilliant pupil the greater path to glory.

Though I am frequently surprised by my internet searches, I didn't expect to find a Wassail workbench. CuriousArtLab is described by its creator, Leah Palmer Preiss, as a wunderkammer of art, oddments and curiosities. There I found what Leah describes as a pair of Santa's elves, toasting each other for a job well done, at the end of a long day of woodworking on a tight deadline ... Their workbench is still scattered with the tools of their trade (inspired by Joseph's tools in Campin's Mérode Altarpiece), along with a generous bowl of wassail. Odd, curious, arty - what a shop!

The Tin Shop was not at Mungo's school. The photo comes from a glass negative and shows students at the United States Indian School in Carisle, Pennsylvania 
between 1910 and 1915 Indian Industrial 
Schools were set up as 'a noble experiment' to provide skills for Native American
children, however they were not a success. The photo comes from a Flickr 
Commons project, 2008 and forms part of the George Grantham Bain Collection inthe US Library of Congress.
Carl Olof Larsson ( 1853 –1919) was a Swedish painter representative of the Arts and Crafts movement. His many paintings include oils, watercolors, and frescoes. He is principally known for his watercolors of idyllic family life but there are also some serious and beautiful landscapes of his homeland.

The car mechanics workshop at Mungo's school was actually a lorry repair workshop in France during WW1. This is an official war photograph taken on the British western front in France in about 1918. It is made available by the National Library of Scotland, who have provided some fabulous historical images at

The circus performers were photographed by Ben at the South Bank, Brisbane, in 2014. Ben says he had no idea they did Kama Sutra type things in circuses these days; he now sees a new use for his joinery work bench. Ben is a musician who originates from Glasgow in Scotland but now lives in Brisbane.  

The two car crash vintage photographs and the building on fire are from Becki Harvey Myers in Anchorage, Alaska. Becki has kept me supplied with brilliant vintage photographs on several Benchsite posts. Each one tells a story and what I don't know, I make up. She has a huge collection of varied vintage photos at 

The chemistry lab workbench is from French photographer Cjp24 on French wikipedia, photographed in 2009 as Paillasse d'un laboratoire de chimie and available at

The demolition following His Excellency's chemistry mishap is not actually a workbench. Death of a garden centre 3 is a photograph taken in March 2010 by Jonathan Billinger for

The women repairing boots were also not at Mungo's school. They are French women mending boots on the British Western Front in France ("Where Tommy's footwear is repaired"). The conditions in the trenches and the constant movement meant that most boots were given rough treatment. They were a vital part of any soldier's equipment and so had to be well looked after. The French women repaired about 30,000 pairs of boots each week. This official photograph is thought to be by John Warwick Brooke.

Celestine is from Walla Walla, Washington. She enjoyed building this skyscraper a few years ago so who knows, maybe in a few years she'll build something grand. Many thanks to her parents, Graham and Jessica, for permission to use this photo. 

The little green and orange workbench is two and a half inches by one and a half inches. It's by Doris Dotz, who makes truly unique things for crafts projects and dollshouses. Glitter? She's got the glitteriest glitter I've ever seen and it comes in every colour imaginable. Her shop is a feast for the eyes

The well-organised tools on the  laminated board are a work of art in themselves. Shari at says she got sick of the 'Tool Drawer of Doom' and created the Tool Dot, a tiny, powerful, magnetic toolholder to store tools on walls and other vertical surfaces. The clever Tool Dots (black or white) are 1/2 inch in diameter and hold up to half a pound in weight (.23 kilos). Using more dots means you can store heavier things. Tools Dots come in packs of 12 and are available at .

Geneva Trimble runs Trimble Crafts from her etsy shop in Ohio. There are all kinds of paintings, chunky block sets, garlands, framed signs and Christmas decor. There are also loads of witty and wonderful wood signs for every room in the house. I loved the Tool Rules, which came in handy for Mungo's workshop.

The dilapidated room shown as La Casa Perfecta is not, of course, our perfect house. It's a room from the abandoned Harperbury Hospital in Hertfordshire, now known as Kingsley Green. Following the closure of long-stay institutions under the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 there are loads of these abandoned hospital buildings photographed on the internet and they are always intriguing. This one comes from Burtonash, who made it available on WikiCommons in January 2013.

Obviously Mungo and His Excellency are not ancient Egyptians. This image is from 1350-1300 BC, showing grave-chamber painter and sculptor Nebamun Ipuki. Woodworking is shown in many ancient Egyptian drawings and ancient Egyptian furniture is preserved in tombs. Ancient Egyptians invented the art of veneering and used varnishes and woodworking copper tools such as axes, chisels, saws and bowl drills. Dowels, pegs, and leather or cord lashings were used for joints. The photo and text here come from The Yorck Project in Germany via

Chelsea M. is a military wife and mother who loves to make clever, crafty things for her family. She has a loyal following of people wanting to make things too so she has kindly provided full details and measurements for the little bedside table-turned-into-workbench. You can see how she does it at

You may have guessed that the beautiful building shown is not Emily's shed. It's a view from the northeast of the Weltzheimer/Johnson house built by Frank Lloyd Wright in Oberlin,Ohio. It was commissioned by Charles and Margaret Weltzheimer in 1948-49 and is now owned by the Allen Memorial Art Museum, who make it open to the public. It was photographed by Dirk Bakker (CC-BY-SA) in 2010 and is available on Wikimedia Commons at

The two beautiful twin ginger cats are not Mungo's cats, though our cats have been featured before.  These cats belong to Daniel Rutter, who takes fabulous photographs of his cats and other creatures.  In addition to being an animal lover, Daniel blogs at and writes hardware reviews and more at
Captain F.S. Barnes's workbench was photographed in 1910. Barnes was part of the Huron H. Smith Expedition to Oregon from 1910-1911, collecting botany speciments and taking portraits of trees. This was his workbench in Forest Grove,Oregon.

Joan Walker makes exquisite miniatures, including the lovely little gardener's bench. Look at the detail - pots, tools, baskets! It's suitably messy and looks like it really does belong in a garden. I'd love to have a bench like this in my greenhouse. Joan's shop is at

The painting of Joseph at his workbench is the third (right-hand panel) of Robert Campin's Mérode Altarpiece triptych. Joseph's workbench and tools are clearly displayed. Campin was a Netherlandish painter in the Northern Renaissance; the painting was made between 1425 and 1428. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The story features two of Carl Larsson's beautiful watercolour paintings. In The Carpenter's Shop  was created in Sweden in 1905. The other painting is My Acid Workshop (where I do my etchings) from 1910. The two paintings are in the public domain because the artist died more than 70 years ago; Larsson lived from 1853 to 1919. 

The Get Busy guy is from a vintage (1909) motivational postcard which Lee Steiner's grandma saved for many years. Lee is a bookbinder and lover of all things paper. She has turned the postcard into the cover of a Project Notepad and she suggests that it would make a great gift for a DIYer. Lee says she keeps a pad like this on her own garage workbench and she makes notes in the pad when she gets ideas of something cool to build. By all accounts her garage workbench is buried in junk, just like everyone else's workbench. The Get Busy vintage notepad is available from Lee's shop at