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Showing posts with label dan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dan. Show all posts

Spoon Carving Workshop with Hatchet + Bear

A couple of weeks ago, Dan gladly spent the day learning how to carve spoons with EJ Osborne of Hatchet + Bear.  For the first time ever in the history of Littlegreenshed, I'm handing over the reins to him... over to you Dan.
The Hatchet and Bear spoon carving workshop felt a little like stepping back in time.  Back to a time when I was a boy scout, playing with ropes and knives.  Its a simple setup:  A chair, a stump for carving on, a hatchet, a knife and a crook knife.  That's three tools. You could also count a pencil and lots of tea and coffee...and also something called a Beetle.    

I've done my fair share of DIY, and I've split a bit of fire wood, too, but I've never done anything like carving before.  My Dad is something of a crafting genius and I was proud to tell him that I was going to make a spoon.  EJ starts by demonstrating how to split a round of Birch in to two halves.  A few firm knocks with the Beetle on the back of the hatchet blade and the birch splits in two.  We learn how to select the best piece, with fewest inclusions and defects, and then we take it in turns splitting our own rounds until we have a 1" thick billet for a spoon.
A sharp Hatchet is a great tool.  EJ has us peel the thin bark from a branch and create pointy stakes and spears - all great handling practice for what is to come.  We sketch out the shape of the spoon on the billet and rough out the shape with the axe.  The more material you can remove with the axe, the less work you need to do with the knife.  But the knives are sharp and the birch was still growing two days earlier, so it cuts and peels in clean and satisfying curls.  The knife demands safe handling, so we're shown a group of holds and cutting techniques, then we hone down our spoons in to shape.  There were one or two cut fingers on the day, but nothing serious.  

EJ served a delicious and wholesome lunch of vegetarian Chilli, with a side of Chorizo, excellent bread and local cheeses.  We ate using some of EJ's own carved eating spoons, a great reminder of her skill.  Each spoon was unique, each was very beautiful and each was utterly practical.
EJ is truly very talented and undoubtedly the real deal.  As she talks she references other makers, acknowledges other techniques and ultimately explains her own philosophy through spoon carving.  She enthuses passionately about different woods and tools and filled me with confidence to gather my own collection of tools at home.
After spending a day learning the basics, I appreciate EJ's skill even more.  I found the actual act of making a spoon to be very simple.  Its pretty clear that I could spend the rest of my life perfecting the art of spoon carving, and I hope I will.  I set out to make a usable spoon, not a spoon for the mantle piece.  I came back with a fairly chunky, quite handsome, multi-multi-faceted, wonky, cooking spoon.  But it was made entirely by me.  With practice I think I can make something to be really proud of and I'm looking forward to showing the kids how its done too.  
The spoon has had about a week to dry, and I've rubbed it with some olive oil.  This morning it stirred its first pan of porridge. Tomorrow it will probably make a risotto.  Must make more spoons!

I love Dan's spoon.  It's wobbly, hand crafted and perfect in my eyes.  If you fancy spending a day learning to shape wood, then please visit Hatchet + Bear for more details on EJ's workshops. Or if you'd rather buy something handcrafted EJ sells wonderful spoons, bowls and other lovely things in her online shop.  (she will also be stocking a small range in the new Anthropologie in Bath when it opens at the end of the month).

all words and images by Dan Taylor.

Beards of Bath...

Dan has had a beard of varying lengths for the past 11 years, nearly as long as we have been together as a couple.  In fact, I can't really remember him without a beard. It's who he is, beardy, hairy, and free. Just how I love him.

Yesterday evening, we all popped over to Bath for a couple of meetings.  Whilst Dan was there he was stalked by this guy, who swooned over his beard.  Dan initially thought he was a barber hoping to tame his unruly messiness. But no.

The guy was local Bath photographer Lee Niel.  Lee is sourcing beards for an upcoming exhibition as part of Bath Fringe Festival.  The exhibition will be portraits of local bearded men and will be displayed on Walcot Street in Bath during the Fringe.

Lee loved Dan's beard!  Hurrah!  And wanted to take his portrait, why would he not?  If you are local, know a bearded bloke or two, Lee is looking for volunteers to photograph.  For more information please visit the facebook page.

Nourish - Learning a new skill...

Image via Hatchet + Bear
2014 is my year of Nourish.  To enrich my life and feed my soul.  Not just mine but Dan and the boys too.  My full explanation on choosing the word 'Nourish' can be found here.  Our main goal is to learn new skills, to continue to better oneself and see how life develops.  

I think it is easier for me to try new things.  Being freelance allows a certain sense of freedom during the working week.  Time when the boys are at school I can indulge myself in meeting new people, visiting exhibitions, new places and learning new skills.  But for Dan it is a little trickier.  With only the weekend to cram in quality family time, some exercise and at the moment DIY.  Taking time out to do something just for him is increasingly becoming less and less.

So when I saw that EJ of Hatchet+Bear (you may remember my interview with her back here) was taking the leap and offering spoon carving workshops, I knew this would be perfect for him.  Long has he had a keen interest in wood carving.  Wielding the axe at any given moment mainly for chopping firewood.  Dan loves being in the forest, mountain biking, walking or drinking coffee!

EJ is running 3 one day workshops this year at her woodland base in Frome, Somerset.  She writes:

We will start the day at 10am with a cuppa and a few introductions - then get straight into carving!
The day is very structured and designed to build the chopping and carving skills needed to form a solid foundation in spoon carving. 
You don't need any previous experience, but if you've already done a bit of spoon carving and you want to find out about all the little tips and tricks to improve - then this is going to benefit you too.

We will be busy.. but work at at relaxed pace.
Spoon carving is exciting, but it's also very meditative and focused. 
We will leave at the end of the day with some lovely spoons.. The most important thing is; the skills everyone will take away with them - with which to build upon. Your spoon journey awaits!

Dan is super excited about the prospect and has already invested in some carving tools.  I on the other hand cannot wait to use the spoons he makes.  I hope in time he will make a set for all of us to use daily at home.

For more information on the Hatchet+Bear spoon carving workshops please visit EJ's website here.  If you want to meet Dan, he's doing the first one in April.  Be sure to book soon, places are filling up fast!

Lunch date...


There are really good things about being freelance and having school aged kids.  One of those is being able to have lunch time dates with Dan.  

We started this Spring, when the weather became warmer.  Meeting in the park for a picnic, a simple salad or a baguette and cheese.  Enjoying the time to sit, chat, spend time together just the two of us, without the boys.  A midday date seems decadent.  Babysitters are not needed. We don't need a reason, not a birthday or a celebration which would need a night out.  But a simple lunch, just the two of us.

Today, the weather was glorious. We went to the artisan area of Bristol, Christmas Steps. Poked heads around some curious shops and eventually sat and ate tapas at The Urban Wood.  Just the ticket on an Autumn day.

We hope to keep our weekly 'dates'.. with Winter coming we are going to have to be a little inventive, picnics in the park might have to be well thought out.

Do you have a weekly date with your love?

this man...

In 2 hours time he is setting off on a 4 day bike riding adventure.
Dan is cycling from Bristol to Padstow, Cornwall for charity.
I am going to miss him!
The boys are going to miss him.
I know 4 days isn't really that long in the grand scheme of life, but Dan and I have only ever been apart for a night at a time.
And those nights can probably be counted on one hand!
The boys have never known Daddy to be away....
It's going to feel strange and empty at home.
But Dan needs to do this... he works very hard and is an excellent partner and daddy.
A few days to cut loose, be Dan again.... to think for himself and not as colleague, father or lover.
He is going to have the most awesome adventure and be a richer person from it.
Ride safe my love...

If you would like to sponsor Dan he is riding in aid of Temwa - a Bristol based charity supporting people in Malawi.
His just giving page is here. 
Thank you!


the man I love...
the smile in my life,
my best friend
the rock
and the inspiration
today I am grateful for the love of my life...
the calm in the storm of our family.
We love you!
He can also ride his bike like the wind, read the best bedtime story, carry his son on his shoulders for hours, make me giggle, beat me at scrabble, make a great cup of tea......
He is kind, gentle, brave, strong, loving and generous.
The best dad and the greatest boyfriend a girl could have (just wash up okay!).