We had been planning it since last August and finally the day came around for our first greenwood craft day at Hen Corner. It was great to work with guest tutor and good friend Thomas Bickerdike as he led the group through every aspect of spoon carving from tree to table…
It all began with my husband Andy asking for a course/experience in heritage crafts, woodland skills or green wood carving as a Christmas present a couple of years ago. I searched them out, found what looked like a good day out in the Cotswolds and promptly bought a gift voucher. One weekend, the following summer, Andy set off on a four hour trek to find the clearing in the woods where his day course was to be held. Full of enthusiasm, with a packed lunch to hand, he eyed up the tools, paid careful attention to the tutor and couldn’t wait to get his hands on the wood. When he eventually returned at the end of the day waving his freshly carved spoon, there was a sense of pride and achievement in what he had created along with a bit of backache from all the driving.
Andy had clearly loved the day albeit a shame that it was held so far away. Within a few weeks, we’d discovered that our bee keeping friend, Thomas, who is a joiner and cabinet maker by trade, had also been turning his hand to a bit of whittling and when he brought his creations over to show us, my first thought was ‘We can bring this to London!’.
We started planning and held our first Full Day Spoon Carving Course just a few weeks ago.
Only a small number of tickets were issued as this very hands on course needed lots of sharp equipment per person and careful supervision by the team.
After welcome refreshments of tea and buns, I told the Hen Corner story then handed over to Thomas for the health & safety briefing. Thomas took our guests through the range of tools that he had prepared in advance, starting with a hand axe to bring initial definition to the shape then several specific knives and blades to refine the detail of the spoon as it takes shape. Thomas had made a work station for each guest to use which allowed tools and wood to be positioned safely and comfortably at an ideal height for the axe work.
Very soon everyone was sculpting, watching the wood as it responded to the tools and slowly began to take shape. As the spoons became recognisable, the smaller hand tools came into their own with the curved blade of the crook knife scooping out wood from the centre of the spoon head to form a bowl.
We gathered around the table for a simple home made lunch then back to whittling in the sunshine. Fortunately, the free ranging hens kept a safe distance from the axes and delighted in foraging through all the fresh wood chips on the ground.
Ending with tea and cakes and a review of our time together, our guests went home with their hand carved spoon, a sense of pride and some new found friends.
Our new season of outdoor/animal courses are well under way with regular Full Day Bee Keeping and Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London so if you’ve been thinking about trying something new, do get in quick!
- Our market stall at Brentford Market went well and we were delighted to see our friend and local blogger Chiswick Mum who featured us in this recent post
- We’ve practised our new Cheese in a Day course to ensure that guests can make loads of recipes ready to take home on time
- It was a delight to help with the teaching on the Ealing & District Bee Keepers Association beginners course recently, supporting a new brigade of bee keepers at the beginning of their journey
Jobs for this week:
- Roll up our sleeves for a Bread: Sweet & Savoury course
- Bake some biscuits for a Girl Guides pack who are coming to visit
- Keep logging the asparagus harvest into the Capital Growth Harvestometer – it’s worth £4.98 a bundle!
Join us on the Journey!