Woodlore Aspirant Instructor and Quartermaster David Southey recently enjoyed some well-earned downtime following his trip to Finland, assisting Ray on the Woodlore Winter Bushcraft in the Northen Forest Expedition and before the busy course season gets underway in April.
James Smith attended his first course, the Fundamental Bushcraft, with us in April this year and caught the ‘bushcraft bug’. Here is a short review from James after completion of his second course, the Carving Master Class with Ray Mears, which he booked very shortly after returning home from the Fundamental Bushcraft course:
As anyone reading this may appreciate, completing the Woodlore Fundamental Bushcraft course can leave you with severe withdrawal symptoms! This was certainly true for myself. So before I’d even unpacked all my gear I jumped at the chance to attend a Carving Masterclass with Ray Mears.
Many aspects of bushcraft require patience and observation: carving is no exception. As students we were encouraged to take our time, deal with problems early on (‘a philosophy for life’) and also factor in some breaks. After all, tiredness and very sharp tools do not mix well…
Throughout the course Ray and his assistants were constantly on hand to offer advice and guidance, all within easy reach of the campfire kettle. Slowly but surely we turned humble pieces of birch into spoons.
Spoons?! On the surface it can seem like no big deal. But there are many valuable skills and procedures involved in the creation of even the most utilitarian of objects – skills that we are increasingly losing touch with. If you want to gain a new appreciation of simple, everyday objects, try making some of them!
Now, I just need to befriend a tree surgeon…
– James Smith
The following text and lovely accompanying photographs were kindly sent in by Woodlore customer Tom Scandian:
You need very few tools for spoon carving which are very cheap and great quality, all of mine have come from Woodlore and include a Mora Carving Knife, S Djarv Hantverk large Spoon Knife, Folding saw and a Mora Heavy Duty. You can carve basic spoons with just a normal pocket knife, however a good quality spoon knife and carving knife go a long way to improving quality and detail!
It was a pleasure to hear from one of our regular clients about his experience of the Carving Master Class with Ray Mears. Charles made contact with us after attending his course and gave us this lovely feedback:
Wood carving – an activity that is practical, calming, skilful and quite often entertaining all at the same time.
I recently had the privilege of spending a day improving my carving ability whilst on the Carving Master Class with Ray Mears, a course bought for me (as I expect many people’s courses are) by my wife.
A stroll down into the woods with a course assistant brought us to a clearing with Ray already hard at work splitting a large sweet chestnut log into foot and a half long planks. Logs for seats, the trusty old camp kettle suspended over a open fire and a beautiful sunny day – what could be better!
The following post was written by Woodlore Senior Assistant Ross Burt:
During the year and especially the winter months I produce my artwork to sell; I call this my ‘Bush Art’. During a Fundamental Bushcraft course on which Tom and I were working, a large beech tree fell and landed on a yew tree. One of the limbs that was smashed off was used by us to produce some coasters.
Some time later, I was sitting in a wood and it suddenly occurred to me that coasters usually come in a pack of six, now we have six species of deer in the UK! I popped out and used some beautiful oak for the ones shown below.
The following post was written by Senior Assistant Mark Booton:
I am, if I’m being entirely honest, not a natural when it comes to carving. It is one of those Bushcraft skills which I need to work on. The fact that I find it challenging strengthens rather than diminishes my will to improve, and also heightens the enjoyment and satisfaction I feel when I carve something that I can be proud of.
I put down my knife and finish sanding my second Kuksa, a traditional wooden cup crafted by the Sami people of northern Scandinavia (my first attempt didn’t quite turn out as planned – my wife now very kindly refers to it as the ‘olive dish’!). I can remember the pride with which I took home my first carved spoon after attending the Fundamental Bushcraft course back in 2010. The fact that the spoon was not very good (misshapen and not symmetrical!) didn’t matter. I had toiled over it, sweated and bled (a little!), and eventually after several hours of sawing, carving and last-minute sanding produced something that, for all intents and purposes, resembled an eating implement… okay then, a spoon!