Saturday, 4 July 2009

Nature kidz workshop

I was booked by Michelle Lane from Naturekidz to run a green-wood workshop for half a day on Friday. The workshop was for adults only and Michelle had organised superb crèche facilitates for all the children of my students.
Given the limited time, and the unknown abilities of my students I decided to blank out 14 spatulas/pot scrapers out of green aspen. I split the wood from the log and axed each small plank to make them equal thickness. Drawing the shape of the spatula on them using a hardboard template, I then cut them out on a small bandsaw. All the blanks were put in a bath of water, to keep them green. It's been so hot recently, it does not take long for small bits of wood to dry out.

After all the normal Health and Safety stuff, etc , I talked everyone through the safe use of knives, explaining and demonstrating the basic knife holds and cuts. The students then practised on scrap pieces of wood, with me going around correcting techniques if necessary. On these short workshops I do not teach any techniques that cut towards the body, apart from hook knife use.

After a short demonstration on the safe use of axe and draw-knife, everyone got down to business. Running a workshop is like painting the Forth Bridge, as once you have finished individually seeing how everyone is getting on, correcting techniques and answering questions, its time to go around the group again.

A good light lunch was provided, and back to work afterwards, with everyone having a go with the hook knives. I guessed correctly that it would be my Dell Stubbs open sweep hook that would be the one to draw blood, only a minor cut thankfully.
I must say this group was a delight to work with and everyone produced very presentable pot scrapers. As people finished they started playing on the pole lathes and making gypsy flowers. The day drew to a finish far to soon.

Above, almost all the students, and below some of the pot scrapers that where made on the day

I had a great time and Michelle seemed to be absolutely delighted with the workshop, talking about an ongoing course next year, if she can get funding.
Every time I run a workshop I learn something new, this time it became apparent that I should draw up a handout on grain direction in wood, and which way wood needs to be cut.