As a part of my new experience with broadleaf.wales I got the chance to take part in the Woodland Pioneers course 2021. Here I was given the chance to spend 4 days in the woods, each day learning and crafting a new greenwood product from scratch. It was amazing to be able to walk away having learned how to make each product including an insight into all of the different skills and practices which can be transferred to other projects too. I enjoyed being introduced to new tools and methods by mentors who are happy to explain and with experience to share. As well as learning about the nuanced greenwood skills almost lost in time we found out the many applications of these skills and the wide array of products you could make.
We had the chance to create riven oak panels with Owen Jones where we broke down our materials for our frames with froes and shaped them with drawknives; using cleaving breaks and shave horses. We had the chance to work on splitting the boiled oak to fill the frames using riving knives and learning Owens techniques. With Helen we made short stools, we used axes, froes and drawknives to turn a small log into our components. Then with an adze we finished our seat and drilled leg holes with a brace or scotch auger. We had a chance to work with The Coppice Coop making charcoal using only a barrel and also got to be a part of the earth burn and the ring kiln as longer term projects. Twiggy led the crafting of treen products like willow/hazel flowers, spatulas, mallets and tent pegs using knives and drawknives on shave horses.
Beyond the greenwood crafts we had an opportunity to speak at length with members of the Coppice Association NW company. As a person invested in woodland management, I took great value in their insight and in learning how they operate. Hearing about the varied different products for small diameter timber and how they market those products was one of the most interesting aspects. Outside of the educational courses the whole experience was incredible; from the beautiful woods we got to camp into the amazing community of people around you. Getting to know very different people at lunch and at the campfire, all with different stories and interests in woodlands and crafts was great. It was a brilliant time and I’m sure to be going again next year