Friday, 18 June 2010

Dorset Art Weeks

It has been great fun to be open to the public over the last two weeks as part of Dorset Art Weeks. We had many more visitors than expected and our pizzas (from our home made clay oven) and cider went down extremely well - more than 400 pizzas and five barrels of cider were consumed over the fortnight. Good food and drink in a woodland setting - perfect.  This blog by fellow furniture maker Simon Pirie helps give some of the flavour of the overall Dorset Art Weeks event.

Tom from Mastercrafts came and helped me which made it all the more enjoyable, and he's also been brushing up on his pole lathe turning and chair making in preparation to coming to help run courses here next month and again later in the year. Charlie also made a star appearance but sadly I missed the opportunity to get a photo of his (ahem) lovely colourful shirt.

My wife Boo's painting exhibition also went down very well and she almost sold out of paintings by the end. When you come down on a course, I recommend a visit to her studio up at the farm where you can have first choice of what she has been doing. (There's a link to her web site on the left!)

Friday, 11 June 2010

Mastercrafts Series 2 - Axed!

I have to say I was disappointed by the BBC's decision to not commission a second series of Mastercrafts. I say that not because I was a mentor on Series 1 but because I really do believe in craftsmanship, and Series 1 was a big step forward in showing to the public at large the pleasures to be had in all the crafts featured - not just green woodworking.

There is a Facebook Group set up specifically about this development

and if you, like me, feel passionate about craftsmanship then perhaps you'll make your views known.

You can also read more about the issue (no Facebook participation required!), here:

at UK Handmade.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Masterclass 2 - Chairs From Trees

Our 'Make A Chair From A Tree' course has been very popular since our trainees on the BBC Mastercrafts program undertook the challange of making a chair from a tree in just 5 days.

Last week saw the first time of teaching it to a full house of 10 guests and I am delighted to report that at the end of it there were 10 beautiful chairs and 10 happy and rightfully proud chair makers.

We did have to work on into the evening to keep on schedule which, although not ideal, was great for the group as a whole and everybody rose to the challange.  Having said that, I am currently revising some details and processes so that on future courses everybody goes home on time!  

We had four campers all week and the new woodland shower has proven a real hit - not to mention the evening sessions in the dining tent with guitars, singing and campfires etc - a real escape from everyday life for all concerned.  I'd like to say well done to everyone and a heartfelt thanks too for the wonderful letters - they mean a great deal to us. 

For one guest, Aaron Hewit (recently back from a tour in Afghanistan), this was the last of four consecutive courses with us. He made a fantastic chair as his finale, as this picture shows:

Aaron's lovely basset hound and camper van will be much missed as will Aaron himself. I do hope he'll be back in the not too distant future for another few days in the woods.

Tom Vaughan from Mastercrafts is here in the workshop now, working with me on  refining this course and he'll be teaching on it when it's next run - which is next month. Personally I can't wait: the feeling of achievement really does seem to have affected everyone quite fundamentally.