If things have been quiet here lately, it’s because we’ve been slowly, ever so slowly climbing out of an old skin, and settling into a new one. For the past 10 years we have been working and dreaming out of this half-fossilised concretion of a shed, like hermit crabs: Scuttling off to collect, make, visit, play, but always returning to shell-safety.
Sitting at the end of the long garden, behind 2 old cherry trees, an interloper fig & shaded by a sword of Damocles apple (double edged): Each year we harvested a bumper crop & the roof gained a few new holes, Sir Issac could have proved gravity’s law 10 times over if he’d been mulling on the problem under this monster Bramley.
This place was a nest, where anyone might feel enclosed in magical creative posibility – an unwitting prototype… We shared our creative space with joy & grief both, making cradle & grave. Joined by wild ivy, several generations of human friends, several generations of robins, wrens & one bold-as-brass mouse. Spiders like black stars in clusters too many to count. Strange now to see it empty, when it had been so full. To still feel the fullness & to carry it somewhere else.
Oh Shed! We love you, we miss you. Never to be be replaced. You will live again!
Just off camera to the left! Blink and you’ll miss it.
The commission to create not one, but a trio, of identical drinking bowls arrived shortly before Christmas; A present perhaps? A set of three as a gift?
No, props for CBBC’s fourth series of Wolfblood!
In last night’s episode the healing concoction was ground and stewed in the carved mortar and pestle made by Martin. Only one bowl featured, but we were asked to make duplicates, suitably aged and dirtied, as it was due to be cast down onto the floor, incase of breakages. The vagaries of script and editing knife conspired to keep the props from being featured too heavily, but it was a super-fun project, and in the process of diligent research we became more than mildy addicted to the show!
Another glimpse into the lime-tree-legacy being spread from the Meadows.
Future furniture makers!
Giving thor a run for his money
Three finished stools
The drawknife and the shave horse are a perfect combination
The axe does the heavy work
We worked with the Meadows Youth Club, introducing traditional hand skills & building beautiful stools from the wood felled for the tram works, filling the room knee deep in curled shavings. It was heartening to see the young folk’s suprise & delight at the quality of things they had made for themselves!
While we’re on the subject of stools, here are some splendid seats carved lovingly in the Meadows at the end of last year.
The stools tell the stories of the hands that made them; each one a unique piece of furniture. They also add a new chapter to the lives of the 150 year old old trees that were cut down for tram works in the area.
The centenarian limes, former inhabitants of the Meadows, have been worked with sharp tools, careful guidance, and plenty of enthusiasm.
Pat, at The Meadows Art Gallery, along with local residents, rescued the trees from the chipper and moved them appropriatley enough to the derelict site of a former old peoples home. She’s responsible for this project (and many more) using this beautiful wood.
Rough shaping legs with the axe
Riding the shave horses three!
Refining stool legs with the drawknife
A good team.
Making holes with the brace and bit.
Shaping the seat
Trying out the fit
A beautiful bevvy of finished stools
Four legs good, two legs bad, three legs better! With apologies to George Orwell.
It was wonderful to be back on the Learning Land this past weekend, in the warm & hazy sunshine, the day so still that the smoke from the fire rose in a perfect column (apart from when we sat down to eat of course!)
Working this way, gently by hand, it’s the clarity of sound that resonates – fibres cracking as the wood splits, trancing-out to complex axe rhythms, creak and groan of straining shave-horses, all the birds joining in the purposeful music of making. Many thanks to our friendly and entheusuastic group of builders for making the day such a joy.
Only wish we’d got a proper picture of Des juggling his legs!
It’s not all
woodwork here you know!
Looking back to this time last year, Martin spent a week in London, working with Groundwork London
& young folks at Pembury Youth Centre in Hackney, who hoped to reduce their estate’s reliance on plastic bags.
Used bags were gathered from home, streets, shops and the tops of windblown trees, and a giant rustling troll took shape, ready to parade the streets. The drums beat their rhythm as the beast lumbered on, & youngsters gave out fabric bags they’d designed to residents as an alternative.
After a week of pure sunshine and stillness, the procession (and a scaled down monster, lest it blow clear away!) battled through gale force winds and freezing rain, with raised spirits non the less! In many ways that ugly stomping plastic creature changed our lives, we’ve a lot to thank him for (but that’s a story for another day)…
A wonderful day spent this weekend with talented members from the Rufford Arts Society, all relative newcomers to the craft. Precise mallet blows resounding regular as clockwork resulted in some beautiful, tactile and ambitious relief carvings. I came away inspired too, by the willingness to experiment, general fearlessness and good humour! Even their practice peices turned into wortks of art.
Wonderful day, great tutor, great tools and materials -Loved it! Hope we can do another day…
Decorative Wood Carving
Decorative Wood Carving
When we’ll be back out on the Learning Land at the Iona School. Each month there’ll be another opportunity to learn, to make, to shape & create with wood. Follow the links to find out more about making a stool, shaping a beautiful spoon, & creating your own decorative wood carving, or download the PDF. Book right here online, or get in touch.