we’ll put some bleachers out in the sun and have it on highway 61

I only have a few photos for this post – I was too busy to shoot much…

I just got back from teaching two classes at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. http://www.northhouse.org/index.htm   Being thrown into an immersion experience like that at North House reminds me of my beginnings at Country Workshops in the 1980s.

One focus at North House is community, and it is quite palpable. The legendary pizza night, centered around the large wood-fired oven, and finely honed through years of practice is a memorable experience. The classes I was there to teach were part of “Wood Week” which as you can imagine means all the classes offered that week (8 in all) were woodworking. Other disciplines at North House include fiber arts, blacksmithing, food, boatbuilding and more.

All the students in my first class were named Tom. I think. Made it easier…

With three classes at the first session, and five the next, there was no shortage of inspiration, nor of comrades. The evenings were spent in large and small groups exploring spoon and bowl carving, looking at and trying out new tools, techniques, benches and materials. It seems that almost everyone (except me) also plays a musical instrument, so the spoon carving circles were on the periphery of the old-timey music circles. There was much overlap. The best nights ran much later than I could handle.

All the while, Lake Superior was right there, outside the shop windows, and lapping at the courtyard between the buildings. It’s a pretty big lake, I hear. Looked it.

I’m liking these large-group gatherings. Last year I went to three of them, Greenwood Fest in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Spoonfest in Edale, UK and Täljfest at Sätergläntan in Sweden. This one had a smaller crowd, but that lent it an intimacy that was nice. I still missed stuff – I got no photographs of the other classes, and few of my own.

Jarrod trying out Dawson Moore’s Spoon Mule:

Tom Dengler kept distracting me with his woodenware:

one of the oak carvings the students did…

I caught up with some old friends, and made some new. Like the other events, this one is run by many hands, including a group of young interns. Nice to see these young people exploring some type of creative outlet involving natural materials. There were a smattering of young people in the classes too, but no group gets higher marks than Spoonfest for adding youth and women to the woodworking community.

These creatures were more common than squirrels.

I had a day off early on, and took a long walk in a state park about half-an-hour away. If this tree were closer to the school, someone would have nabbed it by now…

North House is celebrating their twentieth year – get on their mailing list so you can be a part of their 2nd-double-decade.

Some of the many people there, apologies for not including everyone – there was a lot happening:

Jarrod Dahl, https://www.instagram.com/jarrod__dahl/

Roger Abrahamson,  https://www.instagram.com/rogerabrahamson/

Fred Livesay,  https://www.instagram.com/hand2mouthcrafts/

Phil Odden & Else Bigton  http://www.norskwoodworks.com/

Harley Refsal  http://www.northhouse.org/courses/courses/instructor.cfm/iid/86

Dawson Moore  https://www.instagram.com/michigansloyd/

Tom & Kitty Latane https://www.facebook.com/thomas.latane

Tom Dengler https://www.instagram.com/twodengler/

Passing the Baton: Country Workshops & the Maine Coast Craft School

meet me in the country

I keep hearing bits and snatches of news about things down near Marshall, N.C. – home of Country Workshops. In his newsletter from the last part of 2016, Drew Langsner mentioned that things were slowing down. For 2017 there are only 2 tutorials this summer. So I wrote to Drew, asking “Is this it?” “Yup”, came the answer.

Drew showing bowls
Drew showing bowls

End of an era is an understatement. All those years, all those classes, trooping into their house and home. I think it started about 1977 or so. I first went there in 1980, to learn ladderback chairmaking from then-John Alexander. By the mid-80s, I was a regular attendee, and in 1988 a summer intern, ending that season with a large class in timber-framing where we built the “new” barn. Once I got a museum job in the mid-1990s, I didn’t get down to Drew & Louise’s for a while, then went back as an instructor and once a student in 2010. My earlier post about Drew & Louise, and their Country Workshops saga is here https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/how-did-i-get-started-country-workshops-the-langsners-is-how/

This summer will be the end, both of the workshops and the tool store. But Kenneth & Angela Kortemeier,will take up some of where Drew & Louise are leaving off –  their new school, in mid-coast Maine, is starting up the same time Country Workshops is winding down. Kenneth has quite a resume, including  stints as Drew’s intern, and a period living with John Brown making chairs in Wales.

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Here’s the fledgling website, a new place to watch. http://www.mainecoastcraft.com/  Drew told me that part of what Kenneth & Angela will be doing up there in Maine includes taking over some tool sales involving the great tools by Hans Karlsson and Svante Djarv that Drew has helped bring to the US. And more…

l-r Dave Fisher, Drew Langsner, Louise Langsner

BUT – one other part of this story. This June, Drew & Louise are coming to Plymouth to be our special guests at Greenwood Fest. I’ve asked Drew to put together a slide history of Country Workshops, and they’ll be around for the festival to meet up with old friends and meet new ones. This is a chance to thank them in person for all the work they’ve done for decades. Many green woodworkers in America and beyond can trace their roots to Drew & Louise, even if they don’t know it…

Greenwood Fest Instructor: Dave Fisher

I have a few more of these introductions – I’ve lost track of time again & again lately & now the opening of registration for our event is coming up tomorrow. so a barrage of instructor profiles. This one’s easy – Dave Fisher.

dave fisher

If life were a horror movie, we’d find out at the end that Dave is actually Satan. He just is too nice, too helpful, patient, talented  – to be for real. So I keep thinking there must be a shoe to drop in the end. But, this ain’t no movie. Dave is actually just the best there is. His bowl carving is head & shoulders above any others I know of today;  certainly in this country. His finish, the forms and shapes, and of course, the carved decoration. Each bowl is a new look at the form. His inscribed carvings knock people over…

Don’t take my word for it – look at his bowls:

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When he’s not carving, Dave is a school teacher, so he knows how to present this work very effectively. We had a class with him last July and it was a big hit. Before the Greenwood Fest, he’ll be teaching  a 2-day class in hewing and carving the bowls – then will be doing that work & more during the festival. He will present a a short (3 hour) session in letter-carving. He does these with a stupid little jack knife…

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His blog and website are here https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/ and  http://davidffisher.com/

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

 

Greenwood Fest 2017

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and food

Paula Marcoux has been working like the madwoman that she is, getting the website ready for Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2017. Last year, we dribbled out announcements about the instructors one-by-one. This year, she’s got it almost all ready to go in one fell swoop. http://www.greenwoodfest.org/

I will write posts about them as we go – for example, Roy Underhill. Do I really need to write about Roy?

roy & shavings 3

For now you can look over the website for the festival, and the SEVEN courses beforehand. Lots of great instructors; a huge pile of wood, this time plenty of coffee, and more fun than you can stand. Registration January 4th.

see you there?

Täljfest at Sätergläntan

I left Spoonfest as soon as the dust settled – off to the airport to get over to Sweden so we could start all over again. Täljfest featured a similar format; 3-day “pre-fest” courses, then an influx of more carvers and instructors for the actual festival itself. My first trip to Sweden – it was pretty exciting.

Sätergläntan http://www.saterglantan.com/ is a magical place Beautifully inspiring buildings, contents and people, nestled into the woodsy hillsides. When I left home, temperatures had been in the low 90s (around 32/33C) and in Sweden, I could have used a sweater at times. When I spoke to the kids back home, I told them it was nice October weather!

saterglantan main building
Sätergläntan

There were several courses running at once; I saw next to nothing of them, being busy with mine. JoJo Wood was doing her masterclass on eating spoons; Beth Moen worked a group through her bowl carving; I did the 17th-century carving designs, and the other class was figure carving with Joohyun Im & Hyungjun Yong of South Korea.

In the festival itself – it was, like Spoonfest, an embarrassment of riches – inspiring craftsmen & women everywhere you turned. Also like Spoonfest, I know I’ll miss some names. Magnus Sundelin again, Fritiof Runhall carving spoons, Del Stubbs http://www.pinewoodforge.com/index.html all over the place!, Jonas Als http://www.woodcraftbyjonasals.dk/ Jarrod Stone Dahl https://www.instagram.com/jarrodstonedahl/;  Barn Carder https://www.instagram.com/barnthespoon/ ; Masashi Kutsuwa https://www.instagram.com/masashi_kutsuwa/ with his green woodworking in Japan, also his wife Madoka with her Urushi lacquer work; Jane Mickelborough https://www.instagram.com/janespoons/ presented some of her research into Breton spoon history, Niklas Karlsson https://www.instagram.com/_ahardslojdlife/ on spoon carving; Vesa Jussila, carving birds, but more importantly, showing me local birds https://www.facebook.com/Vesa-Jussila-Naturdiorama ;

It was crazy – I saw very little of it. I did wander around some, seeing people carving everywhere. On the last afternoon, there was a panel discussion, led by Jögge Sundqvist, about craft in our respective countries – we had Denmark, Japan, US, UK, Sweden all represented. JoJo’s biggest challenge was to speak without profanity, and she aced it.

Lots of pictures, I’ll just add captions.

del stubbs
Del Stubbs presenting his fan bird demo
del's birds
Del’s bird – mind bogglingly good
gouge drawer
each tool has a number, and each slot a corresponding number
jojo demo
JoJo with a spoon carving demo
on my windowsill in my room
on the windowsill in my bedroom
outside the woodshop area
from the woods, looking back to the woodshop
tools
one of the tool cabinets
fritiof's class
Fritiof’s spoon class

This one gets a sentence of its own – this man is Claude Veuillet, one of the co-authors of a great study of Swiss chests &  boxes. One of my students from Spoonfest, Helen, came to Taljfest too, and spoke fluent French. So she helped Claude & I get acquainted. Thanks, Helen.

claude better

Here’s the book – and a post I wrote about it way back https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/i-havent-forgotten-about-furniture/

The dining hall is particularly inspiring.

birch w paint
birch cannister. I don’t even drink tea, but had to look at it in detail
bengt lidsttrom bowl
Bengt Lidstrom bowl
partial spread of food
the place is headquarters for woodenware

 

blue chair
nice blue chair outside the room I taught in

 

bla salen
Bla Salen, door frame also by Bengt Lidstrom, painted door by another hand

My thanks to all those who worked & attended the event. And to Jogge Sundqvist & Beth Moen for including me.

Here’s a link to some photos from Saterglantan:

http://www.saterglantan.com/samarbete/taljfest-2016-album/

what to do with all this inspiration?

After Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2016, the biggest problem I have is what to do with all that inspiration. I remember the first evening all the instructors were on-site- it struck me that we had a great lineup assembled, and that I wouldn’t be able to see much of it/them. It’s the nature of working an event like this, rather than attending it. But it was so exciting seeing everyone, and comparing ideas, thoughts, plans – and then the snippets I did see really got the juices flowing.

Dave Jogge & JoJo

We had Beth Moen and Dave Fisher carving bowls with axe and adze, contrasted with Derek (non-stop) Sanderson and Jarrod Stone Dahl turning them on Jarrod’s pole lathe. The spoon contrast was between the Woodland Pixie and the Viking – JoJo Wood and Jögge Sundqvist. Two very different approaches, but both so engrossing that I wished I had eight arms, so I could carve more spoons every day. I showed JoJo a large crook I was going to make a spoon from. “What would you do?” I asked. “Throw that out and carve some straight-grained spoons” came the reply. And yet I hear Jögge talking about “form follows fibers” – there ain’t no one way, I guess.

dave w students

turned bowls

After the event, a bunch of us were talking about what worked, and what could stand some tweaking. April Stone Dahl said earlier she wondered why she was included, not being a spoon carver. Nonsense, says me. I wanted basketry to be a big part of the Greenwood theme, and April’s are some of the nicest baskets I know, without being precious and dainty.

april

Tim Manney’s approach to both spoon carving and chair making are so different from my own, but he has a tremendous grasp of both crafts. I really like Tim’s work, and his teaching style is very engrossing. He always had a crowd around his bench.

Pret Woodburn and Rick McKee are not as well-known to the web-based woodworking community as our other instructors. But if you’ve been around a Plymouth CRAFT event, then you got to know them. Together they have hewn more wood & talked to more people than anyone except maybe me (well, Roy Underhill too…but you get the point) and they taught these skills for years beyond count. It was a great thrill for me to combine them with these far-flung friends. I knew the fit would be perfect, and it was.

pret hewing

When we decided to call our festival “greenwood” something seemed familiar…and that’s how I thought of having Scott Landis come give us a glimpse into the organization known as Greenwood, and the wonderful work they do, making the world a better place through woodworking and green wood. http://www.greenwoodglobal.org/

The classes afterwards were an added bonus, Tim, Dave and I hung around, while JoJo and Jögge had to work. So we got to rubberneck in their classes, and keep on exploring what to do with sharp edges and lignin fibers.

Back home, I’m working on oak furniture, spoon and bowl carving, a bench in catalpa and white oak, and Pret & I are about to resume some carpentry on the workshop. And I’m eyeing some half-finished baskets, too. If I could only skip sleeping….then I could utilize all this inspiration.

Here’s two views – first, the video our friend Harry Kavouksorian put together for us. Thanks, Harry.

Greenwood Fest 2016 from Harry Kavouksorian on Vimeo.

And the second, a very nice article with slides & video, from Frank Mand. Nice work, Frank. I appreciate it.

http://www.wickedlocal.com/news/20160615/national-audience-in-plymouth-for-worlds-best-woodworking-artists 

I heard we might just be dumb enough to do it again. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, go carve something!

Greenwood Fest article & various photos

run away

For two full weeks, I was surrounded by some of my favorite woodworkers…now it’s pretty quiet, trying to get back into the day-to-day. If you want to re-live Greenwood Fest, here’s some links:

http://plymouth.wickedlocal.com/news/20160615/national-audience-in-plymouth-for-worlds-best-woodworking-artists

That article and more photos are compiled on Plymouth CRAFT’s facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/CRAFTPlymouth/?fref=ts

a collection or two on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/greenwoodfest2016/  and

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/greenwoodfest/

I’m sure there’s more.