Sunday, 4 August 2013

Spoonfest 2013

I stopped explaining to people why I wanted to spend a few days of my summer at a festival dedicated to carving wooden spoons. This was partly because I found it difficult to explain and partly because I just don't think that most people can understand (is that just one thing?), but as soon as I arrived at the site in the beautiful surroundings of Edale, it became clear to me again and it wasn't just about spoons.

The Spoonfest clay oven

Sharif Adams making burnt offerings to the spoon gods
To be completely honest I was a bit nervous about going this year as last year I was with Richard and Eden, two of my brothers. That was the only time that we had spent the weekend together, just the three of us, so we took advantage of it and mostly just hung out together. This time it was just me, so I was anxious about not really knowing anyone. As soon as I got off the train in Edale however, my fears were allayed. I was approached by fellow train passenger Ollie, who asked me if I was going to Spoonfest, and that was it, conversation flowed and I had my first Spoonfest friend. At the local pub whilst Ollie and I were waiting for the gate to open, a group of people approached us and our numbers swelled. I soon realised that an event like this, obviously, attracts a particular type of person and so it was always easy to talk to people. One thing that I soon noticed about this particular type of person (I could probably substitute particular for peculiar) is that they are all so nice. In fact it seems like you have to be nice to carve spoons, there is a law or something. I met so many kind and friendly people. About seven years ago I went to the Reading music festival. It was the first time I had ever been to an event like this, I enjoyed the music, but I was quite disappointed with the atmosphere. I had hoped that it would resemble Woodstock 1969, what I got was more like a football match. I conclude that hippies don't go to music festivals anymore, they carve spoons.

Loads of different species of wood
Unfortunately this year I missed most of Spoonfest as I had to leave early Saturday morning to go to a wedding, but in the short time I attended, there was so much on, that I didn't feel like I missed out too much. Thursday evening began the event with an introduction to all of the instructors and then a talk by TV presenter Adam Hart-Davis. he gave a lovely presentation about his passion for green woodwork, which included a slide of him carving spoons on the train. I think I would be too concerned that I might get arrested for having a knife in a public place, but I think that Adam is more likely to have been arrested for the loud shirt he was wearing, so he probably thought it would be ok. After the presentation the bar opened and the guitars came out around the campfire. That's when I met thoroughly nice chap Tom Dillon, who was happy to share his guitar with me and to share his songs with everyone. His song   In my Caravan is still going round my head, both because it's a lovely song and because he played it about seven times in one evening due to so many requests.

Adam and his amazing technicolor spoon shirt
Friday was my only full day and I was keen to experience as much as I could. I started with a knife course by Steve Tomlin. Steve is a great teacher and though I use all of the grips he showed us, he improved my technique and explained how to use each grip to the best effect. From there I went to the spoon shop, where there was an amazing display of spoons for sale and anyone that wanted to could include their wares. I couldn't resist buying two little eating spoons, one from Sean Hellman and another from Dave Cockcroft. After this I spent some time in the spoon gallery, a great source of inspiration, which included the spoon a day collection by Keith Matthews. Then it was time to watch Fritiof Runhall in the spoon chair where he had an hour to demonstrate the way he carves. This was followed for me by a demonstration by Jarrod Stonedahl on how to axe out a spoon blank. I'd watched the video he'd produced on his blog, but I learned much more from seeing him do it in person, hearing his commentary and asking questions.

Fritioff in the spoon chair
Adam and Fritioff are competing for the most interestingly dressed spoon carver. Fritioff borrowed this little number from Rod, Jane and Freddy
This post is getting really long so I'll just say that as well as just talking to people and asking questions (everyone was very approachable, including the instructors)  I watched a blacksmithing demonstration, a leather working demonstration and the highlight of the day, watching Nic Westermann (another tremendously nice chap) forge an axe. The only thing I didn't find time for, ironically,  was carving a spoon. The day finished with more singing around the campfire, several more renditions of Tom's wonderful caravan song and some Harmonica from Robin.

Thanks to Robin, Barn and everyone involved for another fantastic Spoonfest.

Jarrod's axe demonstration

Sean Hellman's work

Not a spoon, but probably my favourite

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