Monday, 22 February 2010

New Courses

I'm not quite sure how we've managed this, but in amidst all the Mastercrafts-related activity we've somehow found the time to launch four brand-new courses for 2010, two for adults and two for children.

  • Primitive Pottery
  • Basic Bushcraft
  • 'Wild Child' Adventures
  • Children's Bushcraft

I'm really excited about these, they're something quite different from the range we currently offer but they're absolutely right for our Woodland Workshop.  They are all led by Adam Henley, the newest member of the team here, with me assisting.  I have to say I do enjoy being in the assistant's role sometimes - it's great to be able to learn as well as teach!

You can read more about Adam on the 'Guy And The Team' page on the site here, and full details about the four courses are now on the site too - just follow the links below.


New Course Dates

As regular readers of our newsletter know, I'm often saying 'book now before it's too late'. Well, I'm saying it again now ... At the time of writing two courses are completely full and several only have one or two places left. It really does feel like it's 'going, going ... gone!' time.

Places on courses are always strictly limited and rest assured this will continue to be the case, so it really is true that once it's full, it's full. The last thing I want to do is lose the 'feel' of our courses - nice, small groups relaxing in a lovely woodland setting and having fun.

As a result of the interest, we've been adding six new dates to existing courses and these are now all on the web site here.

However, even with these additions, if you fancy coming down this year I'd urge you to book up soon.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Mastercrafts - The Aftermath!

Well, it's finally gone out! It seemed to me like a long week, waiting for the first in the series of Mastercrafts with Monty Don to air on Friday on BBC2. I hadn't seen the final cut and so had butterflies the size of large bats come 9.00! Thankfully, the editors were kind to us and I think they did a fantastic job of distilling six weeks' worth of footage into something that was both informative and representative of some of the goings-on in the Woodland Workshop.

For those that missed the green woodworking episode it can be seen on iPlayer.

Of course a lot had to be edited out but that was inevitable and the feedback that we've had has been very encouraging and positive. I am told that 2.7 million people tuned in to watch it, which sounds like a very large number to me. Phew ..!

It is somewhat ironic for somebody who tries to encourage people to slow down, relax and enjoy being creative to find myself doing very long hours in the office over the weekend responding to kind comments and taking bookings for this year's courses. However, I'm not complaining really.

Going by the last 48 hours it is likely that we are going to need to announce some additional dates for the courses that are rapidly filling-up. The April Pole Lathe course has just one more place so if you have your heart set on April now would be a good time to book! We always inform our newsletter subscribers first about any new dates or deals, so if you would like to keep one step ahead of the crowd do please sign up for this (along with Twitter and Facebook if they're your your thing too).

 - sign up here.

I am a fan of Monty Don anyway, but I was very pleased with the way he presented the Woodland Workshop and particularly with his very genuine passion for the subject of woodworking, craftsmanship and particularly green woodworking. Monty carves bowls using the same techniques both he and I learned from Paul Caton many years ago, and bowl carving is our most popular course by a long way.

My only slight personal disappointment was that bowl carving was not shown in the final cut as Tom, Charlie and Sarah all made beautiful bowls as part of their training. However, I do understand that there's no way everything we did and learned could possibly have been included.

I'm looking forward to watching this week's episode on thatching - same time and place - and this week I'll have a much better chance of being able to relax and enjoy it.

There have been lots of fantastic responses to the show - here are a few newspaper reviews and an item that I wrote for the British Crafts blog.

The Independent

The Mail

The Guardian

British Crafts (blog)

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Parachute Shelter Making

The winter Woodland Workshop development work continues with a new parachute shelter for cleaving and splitting on rainy day courses.



This is probably the MK10 design of our shelters and, as ever, each time we put one up we learn a bit more and simplify. I can't take all of the credit on this one though - the design is based on an idea by Jasper (my eldest son) to hang the parachutes from a central 'mast' and to tension it with a large metal ring (or two as it turned out). 

I'm pleased to say it's been a great success: it stays dry and taught in the rain and just gently sways in the wind (despite being held down at three opposing points).

The whole structure took just one day to erect with Adam's invaluable help, together with a quad bike and pulleys to do the hoisting. If I'm honest I can't really call this one work - just adult den building I guess!