Greenwood Fest 2018 Instructor Robin Wood

Back in 2008 I started this blog; being inspired by a blog I read regularly then – that of Robin Wood. Sometime in the early/mid 1990s, my friend Ned Cooke sent me this postcard, showing Robin Wood turning a huge nest of bowls in beech on his pole lathe. I tacked it up in my workshop and it’s been there ever since. Even made the move to my new shop…

I had heard about Robin’s work and somewhere along the line Jennie Alexander traded letters back & forth with him back then. For a while there was a very active forum on the web called the Bodgers’ Ask and Answer forum. (it’s still there, going back quite a ways with lots of information. Some of it is quite good. https://www.bodgers.org.uk/BB/ ) Robin was a regular contributor there, and that’s where he & I started talking directly to each other. I can’t remember if I found his blog through the forum or vice-versa. Doesn’t matter now.

What matters to me is that Robin is perhaps THE person responsible for reviving the craft of turning wooden bowls on a pole lathe, using hook tools. Right now there are lots of people taking up this work – and I hope they recognize Robin’s contribution to its revival. (Somewhere in those years, I first met Roger Abrahamson http://www.rogerabrahamson.com/index.html when he appeared at my shop & introduced himself. His work parallels some of Robin’s very well. Roger is another story someday.)

We finally met in 2014, when I was a student in his first course at North House Folk School. (met Jarrod & JoJo there at the same time – 3 birds, one stone).  With Barn the Spoon, Robin started another inspiration of ours – Spoonfest https://spoonfest.co.uk/ and that’s where he & I next met up. He’d invited me a couple of times and I begged off due to scheduling problems. Then in 2016 I decided I’d better go before the invites dried up.  

I’m thrilled that Robin is coming to Greenwood Fest. He’ll be teaching a 2-day class in bowl turning on a pole lathe, with hook tools. Then during the fest, we’ll have him in various capacities; these days much of his time is spent making tools for spoon carving. We’re still working out the details of some aspects of the schedule. One piece we have planned with him is a slide talk/presentation about his various green woodworking exploits over the years. Worth seeing.

Robin Wood’s bowl

One of the hardest parts of Greenwood Fest planning for us is the instructor roster. Because our venue has a limit on the number of people allowed, the size of the Fest will not grow. And because we love all our instructors equally – it becomes difficult to work in new ones. To make space for Robin, Jarrod Dahl has kindly agreed to shift from Greenwood Fest this year to a course with Plymouth CRAFT later in the season – early to mid-September. BUT Jarrod & Jazmin plan on attending the Fest, so if you see Jarrod there, take it easy on him with the questions, it’s his vacation!

Greenwood Fest will be held in Plymouth Massachusetts June 5-10, 2018. Those dates include the pre-fest courses. Tickets on sale starting February 2, 2018  https://www.greenwoodfest.org/

 

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Greenwood Fest Instructor: Darrick Sanderson

Rick McKee would be ashamed as I mix sports metaphors, by referring to a pinch-hitting hockey player – but last summer Darrick/Derek Sanderson stepped up as a pinch hitter at Greenwood Fest and knocked it out of the park. Off the ice? I’ll shut up now & get on with it.

Image result for darrick sanderson bowls

 

In addition to turning bowls on the pole lathe, Derek is a spoon carving phenom. I heard recently (I forget where) that there are days when he hardly carves any spoons. Just 4 or 5. A good week’s output for me! In April 2016, Jarrod wrote about a visit out to Derek’s place, where he saw the entire arc of Derek’s spoon carving –  “Over the 4 years Derek has been carving spoons, he’s made about 1400 of them.  He’s saved nearly all of them.” That’s a staggering number of spoons!

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Derek will be manning the pole lathe part of the time, just like he did last year; turning bowls, teaching, explaining techniques – I remember it seemed as if he woke up and started woodworking in the next breath. Always with a crowd around him. So we’re quite pleased to bring him back this season.

derek turning

derek-spoons-etc

 

Image result for darrick sanderson bowls

Derek’s Instagram is here: https://www.instagram.com/dcsandersoninc/

Greenwood Fest Instructor: Jarrod Dahl

jarrod

Few green-woodworkers have as many miles as Jarrod lately. His bowl turning, spoon carving and knife work are some of the most engrossing things happening in what he calls the Wood Culture Renaissance. I was with Jarrod last year at all three of the carving festivals I went to; Greenwood Fest, Spoonfest and Taljfest. He kept things hopping at all events.

Jarrod’s output and the quality of his work are both excellent. I have some of his bowls, a couple of his birch bark canisters, and a spoon. They’re great. I saw his students last year at Spoonfest achieve excellent results in a short time. Jarrod has a very methodical approach, stemming from his interest in production spoon-carving.

But it’s his turning that really sets him apart – he’s one of just a few turners who make one-piece handled drinking cups on the lathe. He’s been teaching it, and writing about it on his blog and Instagram – so now there’s more doing that work than when he started down that path…

Jarrod will be teaching a 2-day class in pole-lathe bowl turning with hook tools. This is a large undertaking for us at Plymouth CRAFT, we’ll be building some lathes ahead of time to be equipped for the event. (and for Jarrod, he’ll be making the tools!) This class will be limited to 8 people – so a chance to really get a great foundation for bowl turning. During the festival he’s doing short sessions with people to get the basics of the tools and shapes. But I’m sure there’ll be time for some spoon carving/knife work too.

blue bowl

jarrod's coffee

jarrod-open

Jarrod’s Instagram page is here https://www.instagram.com/jarrod__dahl/  – he’s cut his beard! I hope he still has his strength…

Greenwood Fest registration opens tomorrow, Wednesday Jan 4th, at 10 am, eastern time. http://www.greenwoodfest.org/

 

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 http://plymouthcraft.org/ and facebook, etc…

jarrod

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. http://woodspirithandcraft.com/

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

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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 https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/greenwood-fest-june-2016-instructor-intro/ )

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.

owenbigbow

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  www.owenthomaswoodcraft.com and https://instagram.com/owenthomaswoodcraft/

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?

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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. http://plymouthcraft.org/

 

jumping once again on the Bowl Lathe bandwagon

 I took a break from basket making last week to finally build myself a dedicated lathe for turning bowls. Mine is based on the ones we used when I was a student this spring in Robin Wood’s bowl-turning course at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/bowl-class-tip-of-the-iceberg/

I think I first saw this style of lathe in the book Wood and Woodworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York, by Carole A. Morris (York Archeaological Trust/Council for British Archeaology, 2000), then in the work done by Robin Wood and others…

First off, I jobbed out the long slot cut in the 3″ thick beech plank. I traded Michael Burrey some carving work for his labor – I coulda done it, if I wanted to…

bench slot

 

Then came boring the hole for the legs. Legs like these angle out in two directions; to the side, and to the end. I mark out two angled lines off a centerline to help me sight one angle for these legs. Then use an adjustable bevel aligned on this line to get the other. This is based on the ideas I learned from Curtis Buchanan and Drew Langsner in making windsor chairs. (Drew is teaching a session at Woodworking in America that covers in detail this notion – setting the geometry to get these angles right. http://www.woodworkinginamerica.com/ehome/woodworkinginamerica.com/WIA2014/?&& )

In a case like a bench, or this lathe – I’m not too concerned about these being “just exactly perfect.” 

auger

 

This spiral auger is probably a nineteenth century one; it’s about 1 1/4″ or so…some now call it a T-auger, but it’s really just an auger. The ones that fit in braces are auger bits.

twist

 

A detail showing the bevel to help line things up. 

auger detail

 

Here’s a bird’s eye view – showing how the auger aligns with the scribed line on the bench. So you sight that, centered on the line, then the bevel takes care of the 2nd angle. 

sight

 

Here’s the two poppets set into the slot. One taller than the other, these could have been longer still, but I worked with what I had. These are oak cutoffs from timber work. 

big poppet little poppet

 

Now wedge from below. I just eyeballed the angled mortise, then made wedges to fit. 

wedges

wedge detail

 

The shorter poppet gets a bent pike inserted in the top. Then I slid this over to the taller poppet, to mark where I’ll bore for the straight pike. 

bent pike detail

 

Jumped ahead a step or two – here’s the tool rest arrangement. The tool rest support is just wedged into a slot cut in the outside face of the taller poppet. The too rest is pivoted into the top of the smaller poppet. Simple. 

tool rest

 

a 14′ sapling, lashed at its bottom end to a small tree on the bank above me, then resting in the cruck of two 2x4s – Now, the transition from the relatively still craft of basketmaking, to the aerobic craft of bowl turning. I need some practice. 

practice

bowl

 

Bowl class, tip of the iceberg

For decades I have worked wood surrounded by people – dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands of people. But in one sense, I work wood primarily in isolation. All these people were visitors to the museum, so watching me work. In many cases, I met woodworkers of all stripes, but it was very hit-or-miss.  I just finished my most recent stint as a student, rather than instructor, this time in Robin Wood’s bowl turning class at the North house Folk school. This is the sort of inspiring time I remember back when I was a regular student in classes, mostly at Drew Langsner’s Country Workshops – to be surrounded by people who’ve come from all over, to concentrate on learning, sharing and exploring aspects of hand-tool woodworking. What a time! North House Folk School has a great reputation, for good reason. Excellent facility, setting, people, and offerings. Look at the range of classes… http://www.northhouse.org/

 

 

I knew it was going to be great to meet Robin and learn of the bowl turning work he’s been practicing all these years. But there was way more to it than that. First of all, Jarrod Stonedahl helped organize  and execute the class. He and Roger Abrahamson built the lathes for example. (links: http://www.rogerabrahamson.com/index.html and http://woodspiritgallery.com/ )
But it was the whole scene that served to keep us occupied.  Birch was the standard timber available up there, but Jarrod could not let the bark just be hewn away, so -quick – a lesson in harvesting birch bark. Later he showed me how to cut the arrow-lock/finger joints that he uses in his “boxes” – one of which we’ve had at home for quite some time.

 

Roger has been a pole-lathe bowl turner himself for many years, and had once visited my shop at Plimoth. He made a couple of bowls, traipsed around the shop helping people and generally sharing his skills. same with Jarrod.

 

But of course, Robin was the show – his teaching style is just what you’d expect, based on the writings on his blog. Extremely knowledgeable, patient, and helpful. His English was pretty good too. Axe work, bowl turning, tool making, bowl design, history – we covered a lot of ground.

An added bonus was the spoons there – I brought a couple but really the star there was far and away the youngster Jojo Wood. More on that later.

The facility was excellent – windows on three sides looking out to Lake Superior. It was a pretty big lake. I didn’t really have the time or the money for this class, but had decided that I have let a few opportunities go by in recent years, and this one I drew the line. I’m glad I did.

Here’s some photos – If I tell you all about it, I’ll be here all night. I’ll use captions. 

 

grand marais harbor
socked in fog, first 3 days. 

 

robin turning
Robin shows us how it’s done

 

robin turning 3
Robin turning

 

class at work
we get at it, Jojo hews spoons

 

lathe
simple lathe

 

lathe 2
tool rest view
inspiration 1
inspiration was everywhere
inspiration 2
detail of Robin’s bowl
inspiration 3
beech bowl
first or second
my chamfer is OK
inside bowl
Robin hollowing
inspiration 4
an old one Roger brought to show us
roger
Roger said it felt like work, but he does it w ease
jarrod
after helping people all day, Jarrod couldn’t wait to make a bowl
jarrod peels fast
Jarrod peels bark fast
jarrod peels fast 2
This was too thick, but I’d never seen it done before

 

 

birch work
a sample Jarrod showed me on
sunshine
sun came out day 4
sunshine 2
the big lake they call….
inspiration 6
This looks like one of Jarrod’s
banjo gig
Jarrod, Jeremy, and Roger on banjo
jojo hews
Jojo 10 spoons a week