Stan Ceglinski's Biography
know, the first thing I can remember is Dad's Polish mate coming
to cut my hair. He owned some clippers but they must've been
blunt because I remember pain with getting my hair cut; individual
hairs pulled by these clippers bloody hurt when you're 4 years
old. Today 42 years later I'm still a kid and they still hurt.
Anyway Mr. Rudey was coming round so I hid under Mum and Dad's
double bed; the quilt hung low to the floor and this saved me
from the pain.
of my fondest memories was helping Dad in the bush. We had a
3/4 acre block in a cheaper bushy, gravel-roaded suburb on the
outskirts of Newcastle, NSW. Mum had that piece
of land as a miniature farm. We had chooks and rabbits, orange,
lemon, pear and apple, peaches and nectarines, apricot and banana
trees -- all producing; black musket and sultana grapes, chokos,
tomatoes, rhubarb, lettuce, spinach, parsley, Japanese beans,
climbing beans, dwarf beans, sorrel, fennel, potatoes everyday
producing food for the table and an excess that I'd load in my
billycart and take around the "block" and proudly sell
for mum to help her with some much needed extra income.
a Polish migrant, had 5 kids; I was the second youngest. He couldn't
find a job in Australia as a shoemaker (cobbler). There was no
calling for them in '48 so he became a steelworker -- a lowly
paid one at that!
the chookshed had to be built, or the fence repaired, Dad didn't
ring for any wood deliveries. He'd grab the axe and bow saw and
go across to the train line into the bush and fell some saplings
to do the job.
years old saw me as a big lad. Dad reckoned I could help and
boy I wanted to, I loved to be with him. He would cut me a limb
with some trunk on it -- making a mallet. With
my experience today, I reckon the trees for rails were young
brush box, and the mallet out of the same! My job was to beat
the bark, bruise the bark for easy removal. Dad would have a
hessian corn bag, roll it up and carry the sapling on his shoulder.
Me, I'd carry the tools home -- at age 10 I was able to carry
the sapling skinny end on my left shoulder, helping Dad home
with the load! Mate -- I loved these days!!
was raised a Polish farmboy in a suburban Newcastle home. I remember
Mum's stories of a life of subsistence farming in Poland. Ducks
and geese, sheep and growing veggies -- making your own shoes,
building your own sheds and things. Deep down I wished I was
there! Truly these stories have become my favorite childhood
memories. I loved Mum, she was always there for me and willing
to teach me anything she knew. Mum taught me how to weave, platt
3, platt 4, how to make a pair of shoes, how to grow your own
food and eat well. I even learned how to make my own clothes.
Dad taught me how to use my hands and I think my brain.
young I always remember making stuff. One day when I was about
20ish my friend showed me a traditional Appalachian dulcimer
he'd taken 3 weeks to make. No bullshit 2 days later I had a
pretty crude, but very playable and enjoyable dulcimer that cost
some plywood off the back of a wardrobe at the dump, some machine
heads off a wrecked guitar, some fretwire left over from my mate's
dulcimer. All I bought was a piece of beech 38x25 mm I got from
a timber merchant at Gateshead. I can't work out why I bought
this bit of wood -- about 1 meter long -- it probably cost 2
dulcimer is played over the knee with a feather, I wanted to
play it like a guitar -- the traditional one needs the sides
steam bent -- too long! I used straight sides -- much much quicker
-- inlays are very tedious and take forever -- I got some white
paint and painted on some stripes.
think I might have been playing it when it was drying -- one
day I electrified it and played the blues with a slide on it!
I liked it so much I gave it to my brother.
made another for my best friend "in the whole world"
who became my wife of now 23 years. She was tone deaf or something
-- but I played it when I visited so it still served a purpose.
I ended up making a few more, sold them for about $20 each. One
was based on a scavenged tambourine, it sounded like a banjo!
day I made a banjo out of a tambourine and some wood thrown out
from the ten pin bowling alley. I made a scrolled head, and learned
to play "Candyman".
remember a lot feeling a bit black sheepish -- I wasn't quite
the same as the other kids around. First of all I was pretty
big -- tall and chubbyish -- then I was a wog! CEGLINSKI! Whichever
way you spelled it meant immigrant -- wog etc... It was sometimes
painful. At nineteen I left Newcastle to work in the mines up
QLD. I discovered Australia is a bloody big place, and boy there's
some real different people out there too! Working in the mines
I met a lot of transient people there, stopping long enough at
Weipa to save up a bundle then head off to buy a pearling lugger
or a good stash to travel the world on a shoestring! Gees I saw
a lot of different stuff!
2 or 3 years I came back for a while, discovering that Newcastle
wasn't for me. I didn't find being a steelworker with a mortgage,
etc, appealing. There was that subsistence farm in my head. I
could smell it, see it, feel it. I said to my girlfriend, I love
you heaps, but I'm going up the country to look for some land.
If you want to come it's okay by me -- if not I'll see you one
she said -- you find some land and we'll see! Bloody Beauty!
That's Auzzie for fantastic, great, excellent, etc... Mate, you
don't have to die to go to heaven! I was on a mission.
I hitchhiked north, got a lift off quite a famous architect/builder,
stayed with him for a few weeks in the hinterland
of Byron Bay, a place called Montecollum, 5 miles west of Mullumbimby.
He even offered me a job! No bullshit, if you jump into the current
things happen and you start on a journey. For me I had no idea
where this was going to take me. No idea at all except land and
my farm. Noelene -- I've found the land and landed a job offer.
She said I've got some holidays coming up, I'll come up with
you and have a look!
drove up and found the land (communal land) at turntable falls
a bit much at the time. The land seemed fine, I can still remember
the fragrances of molasses grass, wild raspberries in the warm
subtropical air. But the people there weren't where I was at.
new-found friend offered me some of his land and a job -- $3.00
per hour if my memory is OK, digging drains, planting trees,
a nursery. I grew 25,000 gum trees, blackbean trees, silky oaks,
etc... We planted out a grove besides the main road near "Donoughues
Bridge" crossing Wilson's creek on the Goonengerry rd. I
look at this forest when I drive past -- they were just like
ground salt and pepper dust when I planted those seeds! They
are now real big trees with birds landing and occasionally living
in them, have become a small forest.
bore me twins the first pregnancy -- we didn't know 'til she
was eight months pregnant that we were to have twins. What a
blow out! A real surprise -- these were the first twins our doctor
delivered -- Mike has become a close friend over the last 23
years. Simon and Peter had a brother Andrew 3 years later.
problems in childbirth I ended up taking the boys with me a lot.
I left working for my boss 20 years ago and started my own business
cutting firewood, posts, poles, etc... Winter time had the three
boys and me in the front of my old 69 cruizer ute, off to the
local forests cutting firewood and delivering same.
land, building house and sheds, setting up paddocks for sheep
and goats, terracing the hillside, growing the 360 fruit trees,
grape trellises, 2 acres of asparagus and other vegetable crops
for selling, bringing up 3 kids and trying to develop a business
sure did stretch our meager income, but I learned to do what
other business people do:
to say Yes.
you supply me some posts? Yes
you sell me some bridge girders? Yes
you deliver me some firewood? Yes
you split me a shingle roof? Ah, ah, Yes!
we're off to timbertown for the day -- pack the kids into the
car and we're off. Old Stan Barlow patiently taught me what he
knew about the "hands on" side of splitting shingles.
By the time I got to him I read every book I could find on the
subject. The rest was easy -- just practice a lot! Well the first
job I did the client suggested I start producing shingles and
shakes commercially. I make 'em, he'd sell them. So we did --
this arrangement lasted approximately 18 months when we decided
to market our own product.
Australian "Shingles and Shakes" saw our name linked
to over 170 jobs Australia-wide. We learned a lot about old houses,
new houses, resorts, timber "makeup" and structure
and the beauty of our forests and trees.
day a few years ago the Forestry Boss rang
and told me to come into the office, Simon my eldest son walked
into the meeting as i was being told to become a "Potato
Farmer." Now I love potatos but I'm not a potato farmer!
Apparently resources were being rationed and spread around and
there wasn't enough for me - new policies and legislation, etc...
I said to Noelene
I'm going to make bowl turning blanks and cut slabs and cater
to the craft market -- I had the tools, the equipment, and understood
how to process timber and I loved working with wood. I wouldn't
be in any other industry!
this same time, Patrick O'Reilly from Ridell Exhibition Promotions
said he'd give me a space at the Australian Famous Timber and
Working with Wood Shows (T&WWWS) in Sydney.
plannned a display of shingle splitting and installation, had
a Japanese friend "Shege" assemble a beautiful building
without nails or bolts and myself, Noelene, Shege, Harry the
roofer and about 4 other talented friends "Blew 'em away"
1992 Sydney wood show. I did this show for a couple of years
in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, and one day I told patrick I
thought the show needed a change. He told me - send me a proposal
and I'll get back to you. Well, I sent him a 15 page fax, drawings,
descriptions, etc...and he OK'd me and my plan. Sydney 1993 was
the birthplace of Stan's Australian Bush Crafts and "The
Great Saw Race."
You know, I don't
reckon they know what hit 'em that show. There were people 6
deep on 4 sides of my post and rail fence; from the photos I
counted approx. 1600 people at one session.
Well, Blackie the
dog said she wanted to go to the next show when I told her about
the Sunday night BBQ's and the pies and sausage rolls at the
refreshment areas. Blackie is now 23 years old and she has been
to 38 of 45 of our Timber and Working with Wood shows.
the beginning I was a little technical, an older friend Reg Bartz
from up near Dalby QLD told me: Bullshit a bit! We
were a poor Polish family, couldn't afford bullshit. You know
I searched for the great Auzzie Bullshit for 2 years before I
found it! It's like a seasoning you apply to a story - like putting
salt, pepper and butter on a steamed choko - makes it taste better!
Well, bullshit colours up the story!
I can't believe the reaction to my show, Australia- wide. One
gentlemen of 86 jumped my fence in Brisbane about 1998 and asked
me to promise him something after he finished The Great Saw Race...I
agreed. I promised him I would never stop doing "The
Great Saw Race." A
lady of 76 years old told me in Perth or Melbourne last year
"At six years old I remember being thoroughly entertained,
now seventy years later you have done the same - Thank You!"
Man, I nearly cried. Australia-wide people came up to me, shook
my hand, gave me a kiss on the cheek and thanked me for the entertainment.
The combination of wood skills, polish sense of humour, Blackie
the dog, my good looks (If I don't tell you who will?!) and the
Auzzie way of "having a go" -- and the bullshit! --
have combined to make up a winning recipe! I discovered years
ago on our farm when teaching
processing...cutting salvaged logs
motor maintenance...rebuilding a lawn mower
TAFE & adult education, I really loved sharing my time and
knowldege to other people. The woodshows anselected country Fairs
bring me a lot of joy and some beautiful relationships!
know, there's some mongrels out there, but I tell you what, geeze
there's a lot of really nice
genuine people too! (I reckon they far outweight the mongrels).
So these days, I'm 45 or 46 (I'm not sure) and I don't care,
as I'm writing this, me and Noelene are living alone these days,
our boys have grown up and left home to find their lives (exciting
stuff...), we live on the Far North Coast of NSW, can see and
smell the ocean, apart from the travel to woodshows, I love cutting
wood, which is what I do at my mill, cutting any tree into something
(waste is a crime).
I dream of fishing but it doesn't happen as often as it should.
of my favorite pastimes is to relax on the front verandah and
watch passing whales or boats (wonder where they're going), or
playing my favorite guitar. My most favorite pastime is
sitting on the verandah with my sweetheart "best friend
in the world" Noelene, with a red wine nearby, listening
to the sounds of life going by, the birds chirping and cheeping
(lots of varieties) and the smell of the bush and the ocean.
love life, every day's a beauty, I did have a time where for
3 months I lost the plot, Noelene sorted me out, a couple of
true friends were there also. But no bullshit, I wouldn't be
dead for quids -- !!
If you're ever going by North New South Wales and you want to
buy some timber, or just stop in for a cuppa -- please feel free!
I like visitors at the mill, and the jugs are nearly boiled.
If you come at smoko time -- morning, afternoon, or lunch time
-- I love a piece of date and walnut cake with a cuppa.
I could write hundreds of pages on my life, stories that'd make
you lauch so much that you might cry -- like when we got running
water for the first time -- but not for now, I might tell you
when I see you.
an email today from a chap in Melbourne - I didn't pay him to
write it or anything! I'm tacking it on the end here...It made
me feel real good reading it.
is great, folks, Keep Well, All the Very Very Best Regards,
also known as Big Stan
never really thanked you for the great time we had at the Melbourne
Working with Wood Show last year, we never miss your stand.
son Roddy and I won the crosscut saw race and went home with
a couple of beaut super jaws from Triton, a fantastic prize,
especially since we only entered for the fun of it and Roddy
(14) had never had a cross cut in his hands before.
other two younger boys Taz and Lachlan want to thank you also,
the only thing they want to see when they come to the show is
your stand, don't get too big headed though - it's Blackie they
want to see!
again Stan, thanks a million for the pleasure you bring to everyone,
the world (and the shows) are a better and happier place to be
with people like you around. Can you also pass our regards on
to your mate in Mullumbimby woodturning (sorry I think his name
is Ken) we called in there about 2 years ago and he was kind
enough to show us round his turning shop and pass on some great
advice, hope he gets up there again someday.
that day I guess we will have to settle for the Melbourne WWW
show, it's a long drive from Geelong.
you at the show
Wood Working Company -
Keeping the Tradition Alive!