'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Traditional Skills - Day Two

The weather’s no better but we’re raring to go.  Naomi takes us through the process of making ‘burn’ spoons.  Somehow we’re going to turn a sycamore log into a wooden spoon!
      ‘There’s a big fire burning outside,’ she grins. 
      ‘Er, it’s not that big yet,’ Dan pokes his head around the door.

Naomi tells us some important tree etiquette.  ‘When you cut down a tree don’t leave the pale stump exposed, show it some respect and rub it with mud.’  I like that, helping the tree maintain its dignity.

We saw a piece of sycamore, split it, draw a spoon on the split side and gather around the fire pit for another demo. 
Using tongs made from willow, we select a piece of red hot ember, and after chasing it around the fire pit, sticking our tongues out like children concentrating hard, we eventually manage to pick it up and balance it on what will be the bowl of our spoons.  Holding the ember in place with a stick, we blow – hard, to create heat.  ‘Don’t hyperventilate,’ Dan warns, as I start to see stars from blowing too much.  Eventually, shallow indentations are miraculously made.


Inside in the warm, we begin whittling our spoons.  We sit well apart from each other so there are no nasty accidents. Dan explains the technique, ‘No carving on your leg.’  We all wince at the image he creates should the knife slip.
For a while, there’s just a scrape, scrape sound and the buzz of the overhead heaters as we all focus on our spoons and a mound of shavings grows at our feet.  We don’t want to stop for tea, we’re all getting ‘spoon vision’ according to Dan.

After lunch there’s a choice of making raw hide pouches or carrying on whittling our spoons.  Me and Dad choose to continue with our spoons. 
By the end of the day, I’m doubtful whether I’ll be peeling spuds for a while but we’re delighted with our rustic cutlery.

1 comment:

Barry Hankey said...

Very interesting course Sarah.