Greenwood Fest 2016 instructor profile, Jarrod Stone Dahl

Another in a series of instructor profiles for Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2016. Dates are June 10-12, 2016 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Details in the next few weeks, we’ll announce registration with plenty of notice here, at and facebook, etc…


This instructor announcement wasn’t hard – Jarrod Stone Dahl will indeed be travelling with his wife April. So we get a one-two punch. It’s hard to miss Jarrod’s work if you’ve been following the trajectory of “green woodworking” in recent years. He’s someone who is dedicated to making functional and beautiful spoons, bowls, birch-bark work (anyone need a canoe?) and more. Jarrod & I have corresponded for years, but finally got to meet up last spring when I made a short trip out to North House Folk School, where he is a regular instructor. One of the most appealing aspects of his work for me is his philosophy about handcrafts and their place in our lives. See his post about Spoon-a-geddon on his blog for example.

some blurb:

“Jarrod has been working with wood and birch bark professionally since 1996. He and his wife April both make and sell their handcrafts for a living through their business Woodspirit.

He teaches workshops across the country and internationally. Over the years he has gained extensive knowledge and experience while making birch bark baskets, birch bark boxes, wooden spoons and bowls, as well as cradle boards, birch bark canoes, snowshoes and toboggans.

His main focus is woodturning using only a foot powered lathe and carving spoons with axe and knife. He has spent time in museum archives in the US, Sweden and the UK, studying and researching older work which is a very influential part of his inspiration as a craftsperson. Jarrod brings extensive knowledge of harvesting natural materials, the use of hand tools, and a deeper philosophical, historical and pragmatic approach to handcrafts to his work and his workshops.”

Jarrod has been a part of Spoonfest in the UK and Täljfest in Sweden. I’m very excited to have both Jarrod and April out east here for Greenwood Fest. All the photos here are by Jarrod Stone Dahl, of his work. 

spoon & knife




blue bowl


Greenwood Fest 2016 instructor April Stone Dahl


One aspect of green woodworking that never ceases to amaze me is ash basketry. Every time I’ve pounded apart an ash log, I‘m in awe when I see the growth rings delaminate perfectly. The resulting splints by themselves are rather fragile – but when woven together create a basket that will last generations. I’ve been concentrating on basket-making this week, so it’s fitting to introduce our next instructor for Greenwood Fest 2016, April Stone Dahl.

april 2

I have not met April, but have followed her work, and her husband Jarrod’s, through their website and blog, When we at Plymouth CRAFT began talking about a festival for greenwood crafts, I knew I wanted to invite April to show us her basket work. The requisite blurb:

“April is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa/Ojibwe. She began her study in black ash basketry in the spring of 1998 after her husband had woven his first basket.  After spending the remainder of the year examining his basket and how it worked, a great understanding and respect for what the basket had showed her took hold.  In the spring of 1999, she wove her first basket.  From that point on, her time was spent weaving one basket after another.  Through this process of being mostly self-taught, she was able to learn firsthand how ratios and proportions and thicknesses played a role in the making of aesthetically pleasing utilitarian baskets, as well as suitable tree selection and harvesting living trees from the swamp.  In the fall of 2000, she taught her first class.

Since the humble beginnings of her work with ash basketry, April has not only learned a great deal about this type of splint work, but shares it with anyone who has an interest.  She has provided demonstrations and tailored workshops for after school programs, libraries, college classrooms, folk schools, high risk youth programs, art centers, tribes and cultural events, while working out of her home, in her community, regionally and internationally.

Through the years she searched for other native basket weavers in the area, which historically had many, but found only a few and many were not currently weaving. She came to realize she was the only ash basket-weaver making baskets in her band and among just a hand full in all of the northern Chippewa/Ojibwe in Wisconsin.

In the near 17 years that April has spent weaving, selling, teaching and researching black ash basketry, she has gained much insight into what makes a really good splint basket. She lives with her husband, Jarrod, and their 4 children on the Bad River Indian reservation in northern WI., where she enjoys reading, home-schooling, eating good food and exploring her cultural connections with handcraft.”

April’s work helps us to see that green woodworking is more than spoons and chairs. One more reason that even I can’t wait for this event. Here’s some pictures, this first one I love – I think of it as “In with the old, out with the new” as the basket replaces the plastic bag…

Some may see this as problematic as the bag is a plastic facsimile of the real basket. I see this as a slow movement back toward using baskets again through changing our cultural opinions/views by using the image of the basket in use again.

product shots 12-6-12 110.JPG

pack basket full view

April's baskets

Version 4

Version 2

in between

yard w hurdleHere’s the back yard one morning this week. No pictures of my work these days, I’ve been working up some ash splints for the basket class…just didn’t shoot it much.

For those asking about the Greenwood Fest, 2016 – a couple of things. We’re glad you’re excited about it. We are too. Don’t worry, you won’t miss the announcement when we’re ready to open registration. Right now, Paula Marcoux and I are working on some details, (along with Plymouth CRAFT’s board & numerous other affiliated folks) and talking to the instructors about what they’d like to present. Then we have to figure out some logistics, etc. But you will hear on this blog, on facebook. IG, Plymouth CRAFT’s website and and elsewhere AHEAD of time…I know it’s a nuisance waiting to hear all the juicy bits, but hang in there. More instructor announcements next week too.

I have had my camera out while walking some. Sort of in between birds these days.


Greenwood Fest, June 2016, instructor JoJo Wood

Spring of 2014. There I was. Just finished shooting my video Carving Wooden Spoons with Lie-Nielsen Just gave notice to my then-employers that I was striking out on my own. And, off for a great vacation to Lake Woebegon to meet Jarrod Stone Dahl and Robin Wood – enrolled as a student in Robin’s first bowl turning class at North House Folk School.

While farting around the shop there in the evenings, I got out my spoon knives and did some carving. After one particular dismal outing, up comes JoJo Wood – she looks at my spoon & says, “I can show you a good way to shape a spoon from a straight-grained blank” – so there & then I got a real eye-opening lesson from someone who was not even born when I first carved spoons! And glad I was. JoJo knows what she’s about…

jojo 2

The lesson? We can learn from all kinds of people, young & old. Woodworking instructors don’t have to be 60-yr old grey-haired men.

And, now – your turn. JoJo is coming to Greenwood Fest to show us what’s what. Her work is great…she puts more thought into spoons than you can imagine. She really breathes these things. AND – she’s hoping to be able to bring some of her clog-making tools to show us some of that as well. Here’s a blurb she wrote up, at great personal cost to herself.

“A second generation green woodworker, JoJo Wood has been making almost since she could walk. She spent her early years travelling the world with her father, meeting craftspeople and amassing woodwork skills and knowledge, building the perfect foundations for mastering her chosen crafts. She is now one of the UK’s leading spooncarvers, and is training under the last of the English clogmakers, Jeremy Atkinson. JoJo hopes to inspire more women and younger people to get into woodworking, teaching that technique wins over physical strength every time.”

Here’s pictures:

and yes, JoJo – I wanted you to be a part of Greenwood Fest because you inspire young people and women to take up edge tools, but also because you’re good at it.






another basket underway


I’m having so much fun working at making ash baskets lately, in preparation for the upcoming class at Plymouth CRAFT – that I feel like I’m skipping work. Today I wove up another rectangular-body basket, this time with what I call a “filled” bottom. All that I mean by that is instead of the usual weaving pattern that results in square spaces between the pieces in the bottom, there are extra fillers woven in to fill these voids. There’s lots of ways to achieve this, – earlier I showed one version:

filled bottom

This time, the filler strips were woven continuously, whereas on the one above, they are individual strips woven between each row. those fold over on  themselves. These don’t. (this view is what will be the inside of the basket). Here as I add each wide piece, the narrower weaver wraps around it and winds down the sides…so the white one on the right will bend 90-degrees, and I’ll lay in the next wide piece, then the white one will run down beside it. and the one on the left will do the same, but going up the other way. And on & on.

filled weave

I hadn’t done this weaving since 1990, it took me a couple of false starts to “get it” again. It helped that I was using some newer material mixed with older stuff – so bright white weavers against the aged-looking uprights.

Here’s the view from the bottom:

bottom view

Got it woven up to the point where I now have to let it dry. This one has individual horizontal weavers. That’s how you can work in some narrow & some wide weavers for a different look. This basket is about 10″ x 14″ by maybe 7″ high. I’ll make the rims from white oak, as a demo in the class.

time to dry it

Time to clean up, so I can do some carving tomorrow. And then more of each…



Greenwood Fest, June 2016 instructor Owen Thomas

As our Plymouth CRAFT group work away at organizing the Greenwood Fest 2016, I have another instructor profile for you. (here’s the previous one on Dave Fisher )

Bowl turning is a huge part of woodworking and there’s lots of ways to do it, but my favorite approach is with green wood, a pole lathe and hook tools. I have dabbled in it for years, following the work of Robin Wood in the UK and Roger Abrahamson here in the US. But for Greenwood Fest, we’ve got someone who really knows it. We are excited to have a great bowl turner from England, Owen Thomas, come join us. Owen & I not yet met, but have several mutual friends and I’ve been watching Owen’s work on the web for quite a while.


Here’s his blurb

“Owen has been a woodworking professional for the past 10 years. Around 6 years ago, he discovered the world of green woodworking and pole lathe turning. Since then, he has applied himself to building his skills and improving his knowledge and techniques. He is now one of the small handful of professional pole lathe bowl turners in the UK and one of the only turners in the world to use the nesting technique on the pole lathe. Aside from producing bowls and spoons for sale, he regularly demonstrates and teaches at woodworking events, including the annual Spoonfest in the UK.”  and his website here and

I grabbed another piece off his website:

“I have been lucky to have worked with and learned from some of the renowned masters of woodworking in the world. On my journey I have lived in Mike Abbotts chair making workshop, apprenticed with Barn The Spoon at a spoon carving shop in London and learned to make my own tools from Robin Wood in a workshop on the Pennine Way.”

One thing in particular about Owen’s work is his nests of bowls. These are a set that he cuts from one large blank. Rather than turn the whole interior into shavings, he cuts a successively smaller bowls from the inside of a larger bowl. This might not seem like much, but think about this – he’s using a bent tool to go in and cut the outside of one, and the inside of the larger bowl, which means much of the time he can’t see what’s happening. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be able to see what I’m cutting when I work wood. He also makes beautiful spoons. He’ll be doing some bowl turning and hopefully some forging of the specialized hook tools he uses. And I bet he’ll carve a spoon or two. How can he resist?



plate1 copy

Image of Breakfast Bowl

Image of Dolphin Spoon

here’s a feature about his work, note the bird songs as he works away at his lathe. No wonder I like him!

Here’s the Plymouth CRAFT site, we’ll have some details about Greenwood Fest before too long. It will all be announced here, there & everywhere.


some basketry thoughts

I spent yesterday sorting basket splint leftovers. Prep for my Plymouth CRAFT workshop next weekend

I used to make baskets a lot, often a dozen at a time. Now, I tinker with them. I wish I had more time for them, they are something that really connects with me. I think I’m happiest making things to put stuff it, baskets, chests, boxes. Hmm, a theme. But the baskets – the scraps are godawful unruly. After sorting & weaving two baskets, there’s still scraps.


Pounding ash splints is so much work, I hate to throw any of it away. So I tend to save as much as I can, thinking – “well, I can make a smaller basket with the scraps.” Sure. But, I had a shelf full of bits & pieces, and was able to soak the material enough to unravel it, then sort it by width, thickness & length. Some goes for the uprights – these are heavier thickness, slightly wider. Thinner narrow stuff for the horizontal weavers. I wove one round bottom basket, and one rectangular basket. These will be the basic models the students will look at next weekend when I teach a 2-day class with Plymouth CRAFT. But I’ve been looking at lots of examples in preparation.

2 baskets

One thing basket makers know is “over one, under one” – that’s the most basic weaving when you are winding the body of the basket. But, to get that weaving to work, you need an odd number of uprights. Or some forethought. One way around it is to use an individual weaver for each row. So row one is over one, under one. Row 2 is under one, over one. and they alternate each row. This can be quite effective, a lot of Native baskets in New England are done this way. You can alternate wide & narrow weavers for very striking effects this way. But, it can be slow, and there can be some waste, when you have some longer weavers that you need to cut down to size.  Here’s a couple of mine done that way.

single weavers

small rect basket

A Native one we saw at Harvard’s Peabody Museum – made here in Southeastern New England:

local basket Harvard

Using a continuous weaver means you need the odd number of uprights. Here I used the most common method to create the odd uprights – I split (halved w scissors really) one upright, you can see it on the front side of this basket (2nd from left) – once you do that, you can just weave a spiral all around the basket, and each successive row will alternate from the previous row. Overlap a new weaver as the old one runs out, and keep on going. You need to taper the end of the weaver near the top edge of the basket, because the weaving is spiraling up the basket.

split upright

Some don’t like to split an upright. You can intentionally put a skip in the over one/under one, and go over 2, then shift this “over 2” one upright over each time around the basket. This creates a spiral winding around the body of the basket. some call this a “twill” but I think of a twill as when you weave the whole basket with over 2, under 2 and skip a step all around. Another day perhaps. 

twill or spiral weave

Another technique I learned was in the book Shaker Baskets by Martha Wetherbee & Nathan Taylor. The Shakers would start the weaving with a piece that laid in beside the uprights, then turned to become the first weaver. So one end of it acts like the odd upright, then when the weaving makes the first trip around, it weaves over itself. Then keep going. This is the one I use most often in square or rectangular baskets, in round ones, I split an upright. Hard to see in this photo, but there’s a very narrow upright right on the corner, that comes down and turns to our left to become the first actual weaver. There’s a single weaver that makes one trip around before it, just to confuse you. 

corner upright