I’ve been teaching another course on how to carve fan birds. These amazing birds are made from a single piece of wood without any glue. It’s a tricky thing to get right but I’ve developed my process now so that it’s can be achieved in a day. Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn something new or a more experienced carver looking to expand your skills, fan birds are a fabulous greenwood project.
Sign up to my newsletter for details of future dates. If you can’t get to a workshop, I now have a set of downloadable instructions in my SteveTomlinCrafts Etsy shop along with completed fan birds for sale.
One year on from being awarded the Heritage Crafts Association Endangered Crafts Award, I’m incredibly pleased to have completed my first batch of Devon stave baskets. These are size #2: approx 18″ long and 12″ wide. Made from cedar with steam-bent ash handle and bonds with copper nails, they are incredibly tough baskets and perfect for harvesting produce in the garden, carrying tools or as a kindling basket.
You can see more photos on my SteveTomlinCrafts Instagram feed. If you’d like to order a basket, please contact me at steve[at]stevetomlincrafts.co.uk
Last week I was invited to teach a greenwood spoon carving workshop at Ordsall Hall in Salford. The Hall is a large former manor house and dates back to the 15th century with beautiful timber beams. It’s a fabulous building in the middle of surrounding business parks and with views of the cranes in Manchester city.
These craft courses are a new offering so it was great to have a busy, lively group learning how to axe and carve a cooking spoon from some locally sourced silver birch.
I’ll be teaching more spoon carving courses in 2020, please sign up to my newsletter to receive dates as they are set.
My scythe season normally runs from May to October with the majority of courses taking place in the spring and summer. However the scythe is a tool suitable for managing all kinds of vegetation and which can work in any weather. So when the Wildlife Trust at Bickershaw Country Park near Warrington got in touch for a scythe training course in November, I put on my warm layers and headed over.
The group have recently decided to try to bring back into management a small wildflower meadow and orchard which are perfect locations for scything. The ground is low-lying, on fairly poor soil and hasn’t been cut for several years so we were tackling long, overgrown grasses.
The group started with learning how to set up an Austrian scythe, hone the edge and the principles of cutting. Then we headed into the meadow to start work. It’s always brilliant to see how quickly people can start to effectively use a scythe with some proper training and for them to see how effective the tool can be. Amongst various comments about how much fun it was and how the scythe was easier and as quick as a strimmer, they cleared a big area and didn’t want to stop as we neared the end of the day.
Austrian scythes are lightweight, quiet, effective on a range of vegetation and, compared to a strimmer, a very cheap tool for land management. If you’re part of a group and would like to book a workshop for the 2020 season, please get in touch via email stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com
I had a fabulous time being part of the Show of Agriculture at Beamish Museum this weekend. It’s such a fantastic location and there’s always plenty to see and it’s so atmospheric to be there and in costume. Put it in your diary for 2020!
I’ll be at Derbyshire Woodland Festival at Elvaston Castle on 21 and 22 September 2019.
This is a great day out for all the family with lots of fun activities for children, unique crafts and furniture to buy. Professional demonstrators and performers will share their amazing skills, from sawmills and carving to wood turning, weaving, horse logging and many opportunities for you to have a go.
Visitor attractions will include the Vikings of Middle England camp, with crafts, re-enactments, combat and lots to entertain you. Arbor, the incredible 18 foot tall puppet of a tree – enjoy his show and walkabout performance, with some lucky visitors being given a tree sapling to take away. The Green Man is also not to be missed with popular songs and stories.
I’ll be there carving fan birds and will also have a selection of my wooden spoons, the Devon stave basket and other craft work for sale. Come and say hello if you’re in the area.
It was lovely to spend the day with the new rangers team at Preston Park, near Middlesbrough in the north-east as they learned how to scythe. The team are looking to start managing their wildflower meadow by hand to increase the biodiversity and make hay. They’re off to a flying start!
Visit my Learn to Scythe page for details of courses around the UK and how to arrange a course for your group.
It’s Chris from the Improvers scything course here. Wanted to say I had the most enjoyable day. You tweaked my technique which had a huge positive impact on my self taught ‘skill’. You also respected the fact that I wanted to peen by hand and tweaked that for me too.
I went home feeling like I was a better mower. Headed straight for my allotment and wha’ ya know, I swished and mowed like I’d been doing it for a hundred years and had been taught by my father’s father’s father! I even managed to achieve (OK, only a little) that glorious metallic chime which the blade gives as it sings, defining a lovely sharp blade with that beautiful arc-cut. And no sore back.
Just a couple of photos from a terrific scything course at Malham in Yorkshire as part of the Bee Together project for the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust. A great group of people, fantastic scenery and wonderful venue at Hill Top Farm bunkhouse.
A few weeks ago I travelled down to Northamptonshire to teach a group how to scythe at Rushden Lakes, a nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust. The reserve is on the edge of a retail park which made for an interesting juxtaposition between the weekend shoppers and our group of beginners learning to scythe.
We were working in a beautiful wildflower meadow on the site which made for fabulous scything.
If you have a group of volunteers or friends managing a wildflower meadow, I can travel to you and teach a learn to scythe course at your venue. Please email me stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com for further details.
See my Learn to Scythe course page for more details and information about other scythe courses.