Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Inaugural Masterclass

I had high hopes for our 'Masterclass' idea but you never really know until you try it. I'm pleased to say the first one, "Make A Pole Lathe & Shaving Horse", went really well. And at the end of it everyone went home with their own pole lathe and horse - including one set just fitting in to a Micra! (It was a bit of a squeeze.) I don't think I'd realised quite how many shavings we'd all create in a week!
 We knew it would be a lot of work for just a week and it was, but we all had a great time and it was a real bonus for me to be able to spend such a long time with the same group. Lots of new friendships emerged and some enthusiastic campers amongst the guests were immersed in the woodland experience for the whole week. Heaven!
 The next one of these courses is filling up quickly so if you have yearning to own your own lathe and horse and fancy a unique five day holiday too, do book up soon.  The course includes all materials including the solid oak pre-made lathe bed, poppets and stainless steel metalwork etc.

Making Gates

I'm pleased to say our first "Make A Chestnut Garden Gate" course went really well, with a full set of individual gates being designed and made in just two days. That's some going! Guy Furner is a natural teacher and between us we helped our guests create some really fantastic and beautiful gates for their gardens. It is always fascinating with all of the courses to see how varied the end products are and this was no exception.
The gates should last for years. They are held together with dried chestnut pegs and utilise the natural curves of the coppiced Chestnut that was harvested specifically for this course. 

Please Note: there are only a few places left on the course later this year, but we will be releasing one extra date for 2011 in the May edition of our monthly newsletter, so if you have a need for a special gate or fancy learning some new skills now would be a good time to book your place.

Primitive Pottery

Adam Hendley proved to be a natural teacher with his gentle style on our first primitive pottery course last week.  It was a girls-only affair which was unusual but fun for all.  I think everybody enjoyed digging our own clay from the stream in the Woodland Workshop and getting down and dirty!

Processing our own clay was a real eye opener to me and the wonder of watching our creations glowing red hot in our open fire pits was both an anxious and exciting moment.  There were all sorts of pots and effigies and beads etc made,  many of which were decorated with imprints of leaves and petals.  I made time at the end to make a 3d version of Oscar the Owl as a model for a really large one that Karen Hansen and I will be carving over Dorset Art Weeks.

The feedback from all of the guests on this course has been fantastic and it was great to see so many campers .. but where did all that left over home made cake go?  I have seen a few crumbs in the must be all that "hyperthermalating" after the cider!

The Cloud Factory blog (see right) has a more information about 'primitive pottery' if you'd like to learn more.

The Nettle Pickers

There's a new team preparing food in the woods: Vicky, Joy and Anna (collectively known as 'The Nettle Pickers') have taken over the new dining tent and are producing fantastic lunches for all courses and events. All of our guests this year have enjoyed watching meals being cooked in the woods throughout the mornings, before each day's lunch extravaganza. The ingredients are all local and fresh and include lots of seasonal foraged elements too. When possible organic is preferred and mixed with spices from around the world.

The Nettle Pickers are part of our local farming and smallholding community and are perfectly placed to find the best of what's on offer at any time of year - with the result that guests (and the team) are getting really delicious, imaginative healthy food every day.

It's a duck's life

Mastercrafts trainees Tom, Charlie and Sarah's namesake ducks have settled in well on the pond and their duckhouse (that you can just see in the background in the second photo) is growing a fine lawn too. As you can see, the eggs look lovely (thanks girls!) and taste great - superb creamy scambled egg. We're also crossing our fingers for some ducklings before long ... I'll keep you posted.