Saturday 16 June 2012

Coppice Week and fan birds

I was head-hunted and persuaded to go to Kent to run some fan bird workshops for the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group for their Coppice Week. They pay well and I went had a wonderful time. It was in part of Kent where I grew up until my parents moved us, when I was aged 11, to Mid Wales.

The groups were small, 3 people per day. We used green ash and on the first day. Lucie, Chloe and Tom, got stuck in. They both made 2 birds each. Actually, I was gobsmacked at the quality and beauty of all the birds  I wish I had had someone to teach me, it would have saved so much of my time doing it wrong or figuring out (now) simple mistakes.

Cloe and Tom

Lucie, who said that she had never made anything before. Lucie runs her own woodland management company.

Day 2 and all blokes. John, who arranged for this  fan bird course, supplied some ash. This is the first time I have used ash that is no good, for fan birds that is. Just goes to show that ash good for other jobs can have characteristics that are not good for birds. I managed to make a decent bird but had a few challenges with it, the biggest one being how brittle it was. Alan's bird's wings all fell off. Today they made 3 birds each. I have no problem with using bad material as long as we also use good stuff as well. It is good to have a comparison, so that when you use bad material you do not blame yourself and think you have lost your ability. The only reason these guys made more birds was that they have a lot more experience in using, and making with, hand tools.
I made a tree from a tree. I have never seen anything like this before and was inspired by the elderflower blossom and all the riving happening that day. This is something I will play with more.
From the left: Alan, John, me and Carl
Richard bought his round house, which came in very useful, the weather has been wet and windy again. We spent some great evenings in here chatting and laughing

Copper and salts thrown in the fire, some lovely colours.

A bark-basket making course going on next to my workshop, the wood is sweet chestnut.

Neil McLaughlan ran the hurdle making. Great bloke and hurdle maker, I really enjoyed chatting to him during the evenings. No website, no email just a phone number

Littlestone on sea, and you can see Dungeness nuclear power station in the distance, I remember coming here and to Camber sands just down the road, as a kid.
The mud flats with 2 inches of water on top and a fair wind blowing.

I will be attending the Weald Woodfair with the Coppice group in Sept, see you there.

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