A craft trip to Slovakia

Our host Jakub

I’m just back from a fantastic week in Slovakia as part of a traditional craft skills project organised by Grampus Heritage. We were based at Lišov Museum where Jakub and Adriana are working to preserve the local cave houses and crafts of the area.

During the week, our main tasks were based around repairing and renovating the cave houses which are dug out of the local cliffs as homes and also wine cellars. They were still in use during the 20th century but many are now suffering from neglect or inappropriate work on them over the years.

Cave house, Lisov Slovakia Cave house interior. Lisov, Slovakia

Our lunches for the week was cooked by Danka, a local woman, using food from her smallholding. Her hospitality was fantastic and was a highlight of the trip. Also during our stay, I took time to visit one of the local cemetaries where candles had been lit for All Saint’s Day.

There was also loads of traditional crafts around and, of course, I took my own tools along with me so I could do some carving there. I’ll write more about those and post the rest of my photos in future posts.

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Derbyshire Woodland Festival 2018

As we head into autumn, I’m very pleased to say that I’ve been once more invited to the Derbyshire Woodland Festival at Evaston Castle country park. This is one of the best shows in the UK and full of the best craftspeople demonstrating and selling their work in a fantastic venue.

I’ll be there carving fan birds and will also have some of my ash splint and Devon stave baskets to show and talk about. Come along, enjoy the atmosphere and say hello.

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Learning to scythe in Manchester

Learn to scythe in Manchester

Huge thanks to Frank and Edward who came to my first city scythe course at Hullard Park in Trafford, Manchester.

Hullard Park is fortunate to have a 1 acre wildflower meadow which makes an ideal setting for learning to scythe. We had a terrific day mowing together while being serenaded by Billy Joel who was practising for a concert at Trafford Park the next day.

Scything a wildflower meadow in Manchester Learn to scythe Manchester

I’m teaching scythe courses across the north west this summer, visit my Learn to Scythe page for details.

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Scything the Churchyard in North Yorkshire

Austrian scythe course at St John's Church, Ripon, N Yorkshire

Last week I was back at St John’s Church near Ripon in North Yorkshire to teach a group how to use an austrian scythe as part of their Conservation week. The church has been working to preserving and manage part of it’s churchyard as a wildflower meadow. The scythe is a safe tool for their volunteers working among the headstones and perfectly in keeping with the quiet atmosphere.

Scything among headstones in St John's churchyard, Yorkshire Scything wildflower meadow at St John's Church, Yorkshire

As well as learning how to set up the scythes, sharpening and mowing we looked at maintaining the blade by peening the edge, hammering it using a special jig to thin the bevel and make it cut more easily.

Peening an austrian scythe at St John's church, Yorkshire

My next Learn to Scythe course is at Bell Sykes farm, Slaidburn, Lancashire on 22nd July. Email stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com to book your space or see my Learn to scythe page for other dates this summer.

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Scything Stockport’s community orchard

Learn to scythe course with the Orchard Project, Stockport

I moved to Manchester last year and am really excited to be discovering all kinds of local projects where communities are managing small meadows, orchards and other natural areas. I get the feeling that, living in a largely urban environment, the green spaces are precious resources which the people are taking into their own hands to look after.

Last week I was in Stockport teaching a group how to scythe at Sidings Orchard. The workshop was organised by Helping Britain Blossom.

Scything a community orchard in Stockport

Learn to scythe course Sharpening an austrian scythe in an orchard

Come and learn how to scythe yourself at Hullard Park, Manchester on 15th June. You’ll learn to set up, sharpen and maintain the scythe as well as techniques to mow the grass easily, quietly and efficiently. The day costs £80, to book email stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com

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Like a hot knife through butter (cups)

Learn to scythe course in Cumbria

I’ve been back to Cumbria this week for a Learn to Scythe course at Brigflatts Meeting House near Sedbergh.

I’ve been mowing the little meadow here for several years so it’s nice to see the meadow slowly changing and I know the grass will always be soft and clean so it’s a great place to learn how to scythe. Although there were showers forecast, we kept dry all day and everyone was mowing beautifully. Have a look at the portraits below and you’ll see the neat windrows, relaxed effort and good posture that you can achieve with an austrian scythe.

Your next opportunity to scythe is 15th June at Hullard Park, Manchester. The day includes all tuition in using and maintaining a scythe and costs £80, to book please email me stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com For other dates, visit my Learn to Scythe page.

learn to scythe a meadow in Cumbria learn scythign in Cumbria

learn to scythe in Cumbria scything course in Cumbria

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Improver’s Scythe Masterclass 2018

A fantastic opportunity to learn a lot more about the scythe and have some fun.

Why not come along?

There are still a couple of places left on this year’s Scythe Masterclass, held in Muchelney, Somerset.

The course runs on 8th and 9th of June, followed by the annual West Country Scythe Festival and Green Fair on Sunday 10th June.

You will get two days packed full of knowledge and experience to help improve all aspects of your scything.

From learning how to diagnose and fix problems in your own and others mowing techniques, to in depth explorations of peening this is the place to find answers to all your scything questions and more.

With three course tutors you will have access to a great breadth of knowledge. The tutors, Phil Batten, Christiane Laganda and Steve Tomlin, each have many years of scything and teaching experience to share.

In addition to the main tutors there will be other members of the Scythe Association in attendance, especially on the Saturday, with opportunities for discussions on everything from hand hay making to the English scythe.

Stay on Sunday for the West Country Scythe Festival and Green Fair  which takes place on the same site.
This is your chance to join in with the mowing and hay making competitions should you choose, or cheer along others as they race, browse the stalls and soak up the atmosphere.
“Probably the most enjoyable, and authentic, country fair in all England”

The festival makes a most satisfying finish to the ultimate scythe course.

Booking Information
The cost is £140 for individuals, £165 for organizations, £90 concession for unwaged. Meals are provided. Camping on site is available at a special low rate.

This course is held at Thorney Lakes, Muchelney, Somerset. Contact Simon Fairlie for more details and to book email: scythes@myphone.coop

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Scything the allotment

My mate Chris has recently taken on an allotment in Trafford, south Manchester. The other day he mentioned that he’d been thinking of hiring a strimmer to cut the grass on it before he starts to work the soil. A strimmer!

Allotment long grass ready for the scythe

The ground was uneven, there’s weeds and old grass thatch along with the odd brick and old football. It was a brilliant start to my scythe season. A pleasant hour mowing including chatting with a guy from one of the other plots who’d scythed as a young man in Ireland and wanted a go.

Allotment scythe

If you’d like to learn to scythe, I am running several beginners courses this summer including on 15th June at Hullard Park in Manchester. More info and details at https://stevetomlincrafts.wordpress.com/learn-to-scythe/ or email stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com

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Scything and Spoon carving workshops at Burmieston, Perth & Kinross

Learn to scythe Scotland

Later this month I will be heading north of the border to teach some courses at the lovely Burmieston near Perth.

On Tues 22nd May there will be a one day spoon carving workshop where you can join me to learn axe and knife skills and create your own unique cooking spoon from freshly cut, green wood.

Following that, I will be teaching two scythe workshops

Wed 23rd May will be a Learn to Scythe workshop covering all the aspects of setting up, sharpening and using an Austrian scythe and mowing some of the lovely wildflower meadows being established on the smallholding.

Then on Thurs 24th May, a special improvers scythe workshop where we will look more in depth into peening as well as fine tuning your sharpening and refining your mowing technique. This should be a really interesting day and perfect if you’ve already been using your scythe for a while or want to take it further.

Please book directly with Olly or Keesje: hello@burmieston.co.uk

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Learn to Scythe in Manchester

Learn to Scythe in Manchester

I’m really excited to be teaching a Learn to Scythe course at Hullard Park in south Manchester. This follows on from the course I taught there last year and will be helping with the management of the park’s fabulous wildflower meadow.

The scythe is a terrific tool for urban spaces, quiet, manoeuvrable and able to tackle weeds as well as grasses. It’s just the thing for an allotment, community orchard, meadow or even your lawn.

The course will cover all the aspects of scything, including setting up the scythe, sharpening the blade, mowing and maintenance.

Learn to scythe Manchester 15th June 2018, £80. To book email stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com

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