Friday, 26 March 2010

Coracle Making This November!

As newsletter readers will already know, I've just been able to confirm that we'll be running a coracle making course in November this year.

The course is still under development and the coracle shown on the web site is one that we made while at our previous base in Mangerton. This will be the model/prototype for the course design but obviously it's subject to change. However, we do anticipate a lot of interest in coracle making, so if you are keen to try your hand do book early for the first course proper, which we'll be running on the 10th-12th November.  The price is £480.00 + VAT (£564.00) per person and - as always - this includes materials and delicious lunches, tea and coffee, biscuits and cake.

(PS: to get the news about new courses and dates first, sign up to the newsletter.)

Monday, 22 March 2010

Away With The Fairies!

I'm pleased to announce another new course, which will be led by my friend Mo Hammick (a.k.a. 'Fairy Mo'). It's a new children's day called 'Away With The Fairies'.

As it sounds, this is all about imagination and play in the woods. It may not have a lot to do with traditional crafts but from the trials we have been running it is simply great to see the joy on the children's faces as they build fairy and elf houses from found woodland materials. I must stress that this is not just for girls! My boys - or elves as they were then - have all enjoyed making imaginary houses in our garden for years and I am sure this is going to be a very popular day. We are starting with two dates: Saturday 19th June and Saturday 18th September. It's for children aged 5+ and an accompanying adult of any age.

Sorry to disappoint, but I can assure everyone that I'll not be dressing up for this course despite the apparent enthusiasm for the idea in some quarters!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Revised Links

I've been looking at all the links on the web site and have had a bit of a re-organisation - to hopefully make them make more sense and be a bit more useful / easy to use.

First of all there's the Local Accommodation page which does what it says on the tin - as it always has done. If you're coming down for a course and need somewhere to stay, there's a whole range of different places here, and with a good variety of prices too. It's been updated with some new entries.

There's now a Things To Do In The Area  page which has new (not just reordered) links too, including some of my favourite places to eat. The restaurants I've chosen are very much places that you need to book-up in advance. What I have in mind is someone coming down for a course, having a great few days with us and looking to top the holiday/mini-break with a meal to remember one evening as well.

And finally there's the bit-of-a-catch-all Other Relevant Links page which, well, has other links that I hope you'll find relevant / interesting / useful!

Little Blog Awards

We're entered into the Dorset Cereals 'Little Blog Awards' - and I must say for a newcomer to the blogging game this is all quite exciting! To vote for us, simply click on the link below.

Dorset Cereals little awards

Thank you!

Showering In The Woods

The new camping pitches in the woodland workshop are all level and seeded and once everything has grown back will be ready to go.

The (luxury!) loos have been in action for some time now, which just leaves the shower to finish off before guests start camping this year.

The sculptural willow walls that we made for our old woodland workshop at Mangerton House attracted many positive comments, and it was with this in mind that I decided to make a woven willow shower here at Higher Holditch Farm.  We started by heading off to Malcolm Seal's to harvest some of his pollarded willow (I hope that ours will look like this in a few years time) and enjoyed a beautiful spring day cutting the pollards and some poles for the structure.  I hope that the pictures speak for themselves.

We have now finished the  main structure (although we do need to address quite how see through it still is) and the next stage is to fit the shower itself and some reclaimed flagstone floor, as well as an oak floor in the undercover section.  I can't wait to have my first hot shower in the woods, looking up at the trees and hopefully in the rain!

In time the poles should take root (like the main workshop poles) and create a lovely leafy open shower for all our staying guests to enjoy. There's ample room for two in there but I probably shouldn't encourage that!

New Team Members

I've suddenly realised that I've not mentioned the new members of the team that have come onboard in recent weeks. Mo Hammick (alias Fairy Mo), Ben Orford, Adam Hendley and Guy Furner all now have profiles on the team page on the site, and I'm looking forward to working with them in the coming months.

Monday, 8 March 2010

My Portfolio - Updated At Last!

Just a quick entry to say I've finally found the time to update the portfolio page on my web site. As before most of it looks back to my cabinetmaker days in London, but there are now two entries at the top - a Hay Loft Ladder and my Wishbone Stool - which better reflect the work I'm doing since I moved to Dorset.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Mastercrafts Winner at Forde Abbey

Tom came back to the Woodland Workshop on the 26th Feb, to deliver his fantastic and now fully finished rocking chair to Forde Abbey. What a triumph! It looks really stunning.

Tom, of course, is showing the signs of a true craftsman and immediately pointed out a few minor imperfections that irritate him still - a great sign that he really has bought into the idea of it having to be perfect. Frankly, with the relatively little training he and the others received, and the huge time pressure of the final task during the show, it's a miracle that it was finished at all. Working with no sleep and a camera over your shoulder is not all that conducive to the level of focus and perfection that I know Tom is easily capable of either.

It already seems like a long time ago that Mike Abbott awarded Tom the accolade of winner of 'our' episode of Mastercrafts and it was with great pride that we were shown into the Great Hall of Forde Abbey where Tom's chair will be placed on a pedestal for all to see. I would like to thank Alice and Julian Kennard of Forde Abbey for offering to display Tom's chair for this coming season, for their 50,000+visitors to admire. I strongly recommend a visit too!

It would have been nice if Sarah and Charles' chairs could have been shown alongside Tom's - they all show the maker's characters very effectively and that's a very important facet of the hand-crafting process. Charles' incredibly beautiful and well-made chair should get the recognition it deserves as a true masterpiece - albeit finished too late to be effectively judged! And in addition Sarah is going from strength to strength with her chair-making and her beautiful chair is featuring all over the place - in magazines, on TV and in radio discussions too. And that is all good news for spreading the word about craftsmanship and woodworking in general.