The ground has shifted for us all in the last few weeks, and for all the anxiety created, hopefully good things will come of our current situation too. The air is cleaner than it has ever been. There's a renewed appreciation for all the delights of nature, from the birds given their chance to be heard clearer than ever to the unfurling of spring's fresh new growth. For many of us the habitual hurrying from one place to the next has been replaced with muddling through as best we can and also some space to read, to cook, craft or simply enjoy being a little more in the moment.
I'm feel so fortunate to be able to carry on creating here at home, having enough wood for bowls and spoons to keep me going for quite a while, and am so grateful to everyone who has bought things from me at this time, your support means more than ever and is helping me to stay afloat.
So here I am, trying to get to grips with the technology demons. It doesn't come naturally to me, but this is my attempt to tech up and drag myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
I want to use my first blog post to give thanks to all those who are creating, sharing knowledge, rediscovering lost traditions and creating new ones, and waking the world up to the beauty of the handmade.
Much of my carving knowledge has been garnered from the wonderful Spoonfest festival set up by Barn the Spoon and Robin Wood, it's a beautifully crazy and inspirational little woody kingdom that happens at the end of July in the beautiful surroundings of Edale, Derbyshire. (www.spoonfest.co.uk) It's a fantastic experience to meet and carve with like minded people and generous souls. Each year I've come back energised and bursting with new ideas and with lovely memories of the evening campfire gatherings. 2015 was the 4th year it has been run and this year I attended a pre-fest course over 3 days with the wonderful Swedish woodworker Fritiof Runhall. He's been at every spoonfest since the first in 2012 when I was blown away by the beauty, functionality and precision of his work. For the pre-fest course this year he got us to focus on carving from crooks - using the natural shape and strength inherent in the junction between trunk and branch or where there is a natural bend in the wood. We all made some from modest sized hazel crooks before moving onto the big sycamore ones, some were of pretty monsterous proportions. Mine was not one of the biggest but took a lot of effort and frustration just to split open in the first place using various froes and wedges before I could even begin to assess what could be done with it and start to shape it. The sycamore was hard work but I was pretty happy with the ladle I finished.
Many folks have come back to Spoonfest every year so now it's a lovely place to hang out and catch up with the many friends I've made there. This year I was a volunteer and had the rather cushy job of looking after the gallery and got to hear the talks and demonstrations there and encourage people to drink tea and eat biscuits, and look at all the spoons on display. It's always so busy that as usual I forgot to take many pictures. I'm so grateful to Robin, Barn and Jojo and all the other folks who make it the amazing event that it is.