A whole weekend of carving wooden spoons, who’s going to go to that? Well, 150 of us did turn up to Edale for Spoonfest 2012 which was a hugely fun couple of days which went by all too quickly.
Driving down into Edale valley on friday lunchtime Christiane and I could see the giant marquee set up and our anticipation started to mount. We spotted a few friends straight away and the spoon talk started. I’d arrived early to meet up with Jarrod Stone Dahl, a brilliant craftsman from the US who I’ve been talking with over the internet about birch bark and spoons since last winter. It was a pleasure to meet such a lovely guy and we all took off to find spruce roots for his knife sheath workshop. Armed with a trowel and a plank of wood we dug around in the woods with Jarrod explaining what he looks for and discussing climate, lifestyles, farming, ginger beer and whatever.
By the time we got back, set up the tent and helped our Rob and Barn with some jobs time was getting on and I was getting itchy to make a spoon. We just had time for me to axe a blank for Christiane before Jojo called ‘Tools Down!’ and the bar opened. We grabbed a drink and took our seats for a brilliant talk by Swedish spooncarver Jogge Sundqvist about the ‘Four Walls of Craft’ which I really enjoyed. Then time for more spoon chat and an early-ish night ahead of the main event.
The rest of the weekend was a bit of a blur. None of us had expected the demand for spoon courses with the queue stretching the length of the marquee and back so we all added extra sessions to try and get everyone into their chosen session. I was running a workshop called ‘Improve your spoons’, focusing on the design element of wooden spoons as well as demonstrating my carving process. It was a lot to fit into the 1½ hr sessions which inevitably overran and there was hardly time to take a breath but I was feeding off the buzz and enthusiasm which was everywhere.
To be honest, I was fairly nervous about running this workshop, wondering if anyone would want to hear me tell them what makes a good spoon and how to make it. Fortunately, Jogge had given a demonstration of carving first thing in the morning and I was pleased to see that he followed basically the same method as me and that his ‘Four walls’ talk had touched on the importance of design and learning from tradition. Emboldened by this I set-to and said my thing. Thanks to all the folk who later gave me their kind feedback including the chap who was inspired to use one of his spoons for the first time ever and the lady who said she’d looked at her work with new eyes and thrown three of her earlier attempts on the fire!
While I was teaching, Christiane took the bark sheath making workshop with Jarrod and also did Robin’s beginner’s carving class. I managed to get a break on Saturday to be part of an incised engraving workshop run by Jan Harm ter Brugge. His work was brilliant and I was pleased to see that he simply used the tip of his carving knife to make the engravings. I’ll be working on developing this for my own work in the future.
And so it continued for two days with so many interesting people, ideas and discussions that this could turn into a very long blog post. Have a look at Robin’s Greenwood-carving blog for more images from the weekend and links to other folk’s blogs with their experience. It was all over far too quickly and I’m still taking it all in, thinking over ideas and making spoons since we came back. Huge thanks to Rob and Barn for putting it all together and everyone who made it a special weekend indeed.