Sunday, 29 April 2012

Green Woodworking

Recently I went to a green woodworking day for the press at Shovelstrode Forest Garden. Set in secluded grounds that offer what I would refer to as "glamping" (camping but in really cosy and comfy looking yurts), I met Lisa and Charles who own the forest garden. They were friendly and enthusiastic as they showed me round the grounds which are still very much a work in progress. It was a very homely place to be as we sat drinking tea and chatting. I have never been much of a camper - guide camp when I was 13 in a smelly canvas tent made sure of that; but a close inspection of the yurts started to make me think that a few nights without electricity perhaps wouldn't be so bad.
 I know that people choose camping holidays because they are perceived as cheap but my experience of trying to organise a camping trip in August to the Isle of Wight proved that having a "stay-cation" or holidaying in the UK, isn't necessarily any cheaper than a foreign holiday. In my mind, if you're going to go camping in the UK, then you might as well do it in style and a yurt seems like the perfect solution. Despite being in the English countryside, stepping inside the yurt felt like being transported to somewhere exotic and foreign.

The rest of the day was spent getting to grips with green woodworking. I won't go into too much detail about it here because there are lots of sources online that will be able to tell you much more than I could after just one day. Essentially it involves making objects or furniture from freshly felled, rather than seasoned wood. I was amazed at some of the examples of chairs and stools, and even more amazed that I might be able to make or help make something like this myself.First things first, I learnt how to chop up logs into pieces of wood to work on to make the component parts of a chair. I then got to grips with the lathe horse and how to gradually whittle the wood down into cylindrical posts for the rungs of a chair. I was quite surprised to find how naturally this came to me, and also how peaceful it felt. I know it sounds a bit cliched but it really did feel good to be working with something so natural in a rural and peaceful atmosphere. Charles was really encouraging and soon enough, I was onto my second and then third rung.
Although in just one day I didn't get anywhere near to making a chair in its entirety, I did get a feel for the craft of green woodworking and I would definitely recommend it. With just the few basic skills I learnt, I feel that with a bit of imagination it wouldn't be long before I could make something to be proud of. With all the tree chopping down that has gone on around here since we moved in, I only wish that I'd learnt this craft sooner so that I might have been able to do something with all the wood from the garden. With just a few tools and a few lessons, it would be quite possible to make objects as gifts at home.

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