Sunday, 11 July 2010

Green Woodwork course

Well it's been ages since my last post so over the next few days I'll post some catch ups on what I've made and been up to. Last things first, I went on a course in Clissett Woods near Ledbury, Herefordshire last week and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The specific course was titled 'Sculptural and Garden Seating'. I have the intention of making rustic style chunky municipal benches in the near future, from the abundant felled Oak which gets mostly chipped round here; so thought this would be an ideal starting point.
The courses are run by well respected Greenwoodworker and furniture designer, Gudrun Leitz. She is a co-owner of Clissett Wood along with 6 other syndicate members. One of the original partners was Mike Abbott, another well known green woodworker and author, but Mike has now moved on and has his own woods. I soon learned that the course title is not a strict mantra, as many students wanted to just make a small chair or stool for indoors- which was easily accommodated. Gudrun has assembled a team of assistants who help course students along the way and attend to the cooking in the camp kitchen. These assistants were really good and made our crazy project ideas an attainable reality- thanks alot guys and gals.
This is the outdoor workshop looking out from the kitchen area.In the foreground are the sawing breaks, to the left is the cleaving area and beyond that the shavehorses and pole lathes. The whole area is under suspended light tarps, which seem to magnify the light and allowed those of us chose to camp on site to work late into the night.

And turn through 180degrees to look back into the camp kitchen. This is very much the hub of the operation; where meals are cooked, components are kiln dried and folk share ideas and learn from each other's booboos!! I was lucky- we had a great bunch of folk from all walks of life coming together for tea breaks and sharing a common enthusiasm for green woodwork.

This is a poor picture taken on my phone but it shows the cooking range with bellows, in the foreground the wooden access to the wood drying kiln and on top - the bell shaped clay oven. there is no shortage of fuel of course in the form of knotty coppice material from the woodland management scheme.

This is the steamer box, used for steaming components such as back splats and chair hoops prior to bending. You can see some formers and cauls used to shape the pieces into their new shape. The chair hoop in the foreground is a Chestnut pole that has been formed by this method.
Finally for now, a really poor picture of the fruits of my labour back at home. If you fancy having a go at one of these courses I couldn't recommend them highly enough. It is very intense however so make sure you get stuck into the work from day one, if you want to complete your project; one or 2 people dithered for the first couple of days, and as a result, really struggled to complete. Also I recommend camping or staying in one of the shelters on site as this made the experience 5 times more enjoyable. I made some really good friends sitting round the camp fire with a tipple and having a laugh and joke- cheers guys, what a hoot!!

1 comment:

  1. What a hoot John! Ro is looking for your blog now too ;-)
    Booked myself on a couple of blacksmithing courses since getting into spoon carving with the spoon gouge you gave me. Just look what you've gone and done!