Kuksa Carving Workshops - Spreading Craft and Wood Culture

 

 Spreading Craft and Wood Culture

 

I must say, the best leap I've ever taken as a wood carver was the plunge into teaching a couple years ago. I spent years perfecting my craft, spending every single day for over five years on very specific designs I've come up with trying to see how far I could take them. It is this attitude that I think is very important for someone wanting to design something that has proper functionality but also looks beautiful, and feels that way as well.

But I hesitated for a while about transitioning from a carver to a teacher. I wanted to make sure I could do my best to translate the knife & axe interplay between tool and timber to someone who hasn't learned that language yet.  As usual most things I do are always an everchanging and ongoing experiment such as my kuksa course.

On the weekend of 28th-29th of January I will once again be teaching at one of my good friend's forge/workshop in Machynlleth, Wales. It's a great honor to teach in a blacksmith's shop who makes hands down the best bespoke green wood craft tools in the world. I've been using Nic Westermann's tools for years and this will be a very unique opportunity for students to have access to tools, that you'd normally have to buy before you try. A little birdie also told me there may be some tools available to purchase. *Please read some additional notes about this on the bottom of my post. 

The course is designed for beginners and accomplished carvers. There is always something to learn no matter what skill level you are at. I go over all of the safety cuts, and treat each student as if they have never carved before. Almost everyone has a somewhat finished cup by the end of the day that they can bring home to finish. But you'll also take home all the skills and technique you need to make a whole plethora of wooden utensils. These skills aren't only useful for making the humble utensil but I've had carpenters and timber framers pick up new tricks. So you never know what you'll learn until you try.

But the real goal isn't to finish one during the day. It's to gain confidence in yourself and the tools being used. We'll spend the day building a relationship with each specific tool - the axe, adze, gouge, froe, straight and hooked knives. This is the key to understanding the function of tool and timber.

Below is a little gallery of images from my last course. A couple of completely green beginners, a shoe maker, experienced wood carvers, and even someone who builds timber framed natural homes in the UK! As you can see everyone is happy making swinging away making lovely carpets of wood shavings.

 

Bring your favorite trusty axe, sloyd knife, and hooks! Some specialty bespoke adzes and gouges will be provided. As well as some lovely fresh birch that we'll transform from raw material to a fine kuksa by the end of the day.

So I ask anyone who has followed my work sometime and has been interested in walking down a similar path in green wood craft to come join us in my next workshop being held in Wales this month.

-Alex

* [as a side note, I get tons of messages from folks asking me to broker deals, or buy tools for them. I must tell you that I am not a tool salesman, I am a wood carver, and this is Nic's business. He's a one man band, and the quality of his tool making is his highest priority so please understand his situation when you hear he has some waiting lists. It's worth the wait! I've been on plenty of those lists so I know the feeling of excitement and a bit of frustration. But again, I cannot pull strings, conjure up magical slöjdie spells, or take bribes! I run my own business by myself and that needs all of my attention.]