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2019 workshop schedule:
June 24 to 30 MACFAT - level 2, + $30 materials fee (full)
July 6 to 10 Maine Spruce Gum/Shrink Boxes - level 2, no extra materials fee
July 21 to 27 Spring Pole Lathe: Build & Use - level 3, + $120 materials fee
co-taught by Kenneth Kortemeier & Oliver Pratt
August 5 to 9 Camp Green Wood - level 2, no extra materials fee
August 12 to 16 Knife & Sheath Making - level 1, + $35 materials fee
August 19, 20, 21 Bill Coperthwaite Benches - level 1, + $15 materials fee
Aug 26 to Sept 1 Welsh Windsor Chair Making - level 2+, + $75 materials fee
Sept 9 to 14 Spoon Intensive - level 1, no extra materials fee
Sept 27, 28, 29 Ash Market Basket Weaving - level 1, + $30 materials fee
co-taught by April Stone & Kerry Lambertson
October 5 to 10 American Crafts: Whittling & Tramp Art - level 1, + $15 materials fee
1. MACFAT/Make a Chair from a Tree (Post and Rung ladder back chair making) - 7 day class
June 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
exertion level 2 - materials fee: $30
Optional hickory bark chair seat costs an additional $100 in materials.
- Post & rung ladder back chairs based on Jennie Alexander’s teaching & method.
Using a minimal assortment of hand tools, students will learn how to craft and assemble this
elegant, lightweight, durable, and very comfortable chair. This is the chair and the class that Jennie Alexander is known for. Kenneth learned this chair from Drew Langsner, who learned from Jennie during classes she taught at Country Workshops over the years. Kenneth in turn has been teaching this style of green wood post and rung chair making to beginning woodworkers since 2004.
This project is a wonderful introduction to a straightforward and simple form of chair making,
it teaches foundational techniques and skills that are used in making more advanced chairs and furniture. We recommend that students start with this class before they build the Welsh Windsor chair.
The post and rung chair design is called a ladder-back because the back slats resemble the rungs of a ladder. It has also been called a mule ear because the tips of the back posts are reminiscent of ears. Chairs of this design were an inspiration to the Shakers who appreciated their utilitarian simplicity and lack of ornamentation.
The workshop begins with students learning how to select green logs and then to rive (or split) chair parts with a froe and club. Because we will be working with a freshly felled tree, this type of green woodworking offers a direct connection to the materials used and to an older, more sculptural way of working wood.
The riven posts (chair legs) and rungs are shaped with a draw knife and a spoke shave on a shave horse. Rear posts are steam bent onto a form to create the proper curve for the chair back. Rectangular mortises are chopped into the air dried posts with a mortising chisel, and cylindrical mortises are drilled by hand. Tenons are sized and cut on the rungs by hand. We take advantage of dissimilar moisture content between the air dried posts and the kiln dried rungs to help guarantee a tightening of the joinery from natural shrinkage of the wood as it dries. To complete the chair, the seat is woven either with colorful cotton webbing called “Shaker Tape” or with hickory bark (please note: a hickory bark seat, hand harvested in North Carolina, incurs an additional fee of $100.) Finally, the back slats are shaped, fitted and eventually pinned in place with small wooden dowels. Tool use, safety and sharpening will be thoroughly demonstrated and wood finishing will be addressed.
Students will have their red oak chairs assembled and the seats woven by the end of our class time. Oiling or finishing the wood and pinning the back slats will need to be completed after the end of the workshop, once the chair has thoroughly dried.
2. Maine Spruce Gum/Shrink Boxes - 5 day class
July 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
exertion level 2 - materials fee: none
Book boxes, gum boxes, shrink boxes and gum books - by any name these are lovely, hand made objects for holding precious things, about the size and shape of a book, and often made to be given as gifts. Jögge Sundquist taught us that book boxes were often made for holding the family bible in Sweden a century or so ago. The Maine State museum and the Patten Lumberman’s Museum both have wonderful collections of spruce gum boxes, made in Maine during the 1800’s, all made in the same way as the ones from Scandinavia.
Here’s a nice little article about the history of these boxes in America:
We’ll create our own book boxes of green birch during this five day course and investigate why they are being called shrink boxes lately. We will explore traditional decorative carving techniques and use traditional hand tools for all of the woodwork from tree to finished product.
Here is an overview of the process:
First we hollow the inside of a section of green birch, removing all of the wood except for a thin wall (which becomes the sides of the box) and we cut a groove for the bottom of the box. This bottom piece is not green birch like the body, instead it’s very dry hardwood. As the fresh green birch dries, it shrinks, thus capturing the dry bottom and forming a tight, clever box. Once the sides and bottom are made, we carefully fit a removable lid to the box using a tapered sliding dovetail joint. The final days of the class are spent decorating the box with various forms of chip carving and other applied finishes.
3. Spring Pole Lathe: Build and Use - 7 day class
co-taught by Kenneth Kortemeier and Oliver Pratt
July 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27
exertion level 3 - materials fee: $120
Foot-powered spring pole lathe work is a very dynamic and active form of green woodworking. We like spring pole lathes for many reasons; they are human-powered, a pole lathe can be easily built from simple materials, and the cutting tools needed for turning can be homemade as well. There is an interesting feedback loop between pushing the lathe treadle with your foot and the slicing resistance of the cutting hook upon the spinning wood being cut, the action creates a nice whole-body balance between pushing with the leg and cutting with the hand.
Students will build a spring pole lathe and have several days of instruction in how to use it. Kenneth will start the first half of this 7 day class with foundational hand tool joinery skills as he leads students in the process of building their own spring pole lathe. Wedged mortise and tenon joinery, maintaining and tuning your lathe, tool use, care and sharpening will all be covered.
Oliver will then teach students how to use the lathe for turning green wood bowls during the second half of the week.
All tools will be provided for use during the class, but it is a very materials-intensive class so our materials fee reflects this.
Two different hand-forged turning hooks will be available for students to purchase, $50 per tool.
Students must be able to transport their lathes home at the end of the class.
Oliver Pratt is a Greenwood Worker based in Midcoast Maine, primarily turning wooden bowls on a foot-powered pole lathe. His work reflects his deep interest in function, form, and experience. He attempts to integrate these into functional woodenware that is both beautiful and alive.
He draws inspiration from many folk craft traditions, especially those of Scandinavia and Japan, but his greatest influence comes from the many fine woodworkers from all over the world whom he gratefully calls friends.
4. Camp Green Wood - 5 day class
August 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
exertion level 2 - materials fee: none
For young people (~ 13 years old)
A week of hand craft projects with green wood for children roughly around age 13. Five full, focused days and lots of sharp tools. (We trust you’ll know your child well enough to ascertain whether they are suitable for such an endeavor.)
In past years kids have carved green wood hooks from striped maple crooks, round boxes of birch bark fastened with tiny hand-carved wooden pins, custom canoe paddles, and steam-bent green wood fire wood carriers.
5. Knife Making and Sharpening - 5 day class
August 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
exertion level 1 - materials fee: $35
It is remarkably satisfying to design and make your own tools. Especially this particular one, the slöjd carving knife, it is the most basic and iconic of woodworking tools. Most wood workers would call it indispensable. In this five day class, students will make their own slöjd carving knives, custom carving the handle and then hand stitching a leather belt sheath. We’ll spend the last part of the class learning about sharpening and have time for hands-on practice.
Students will start with a rough-ground knife blank from Swedish tool maker Svante Djärv. We’ll each design, carve and mortise a hardwood handle for our chosen blade. Once the handle is complete, a wooden form is carved for the knife blade, and then leather is stretched and stitched over this frame to make a case where the knife has a very satisfying ‘snap’ as it is pushed home into its sheath.
Kenneth will teach traditional hand stitching with bark tanned deer leather, especially prepared and supplied to us by Loren Stallsmith (link). This type of leather is used by the Sami of northern Scandinavia to make sheaths since it has a rigidity which other types of tanned leathers lack.
Throughout the class we’ll learn about safe knife use and care and we’ll spend dedicated time on the specifics of sharpening. There will be supervised practice to really get a hands-on understanding of sharpening. Time permitting, we will learn some decorative carving techniques to embellish the wooden handles and leather sheaths.
6. Bill Coperthwaite Democratic Benches - 3 day class
August 19, 20, 21
exertion level 1 - materials fee $15
In this class we explore one of the ‘democratic’ designs (link to our blog entry here) of our friend and mentor, the late Bill Coperthwaite (link to insearchofsimplicity). An elegant and simple design, this is the first thing that Bill instructed people to make at the beginning of one of his community yurt builds. Participants used them for many tasks, such as saw horses, stepping stools for reaching high places, taking a break and ultimately as furniture inside the completed yurt.
This bench design is an enduring reminder of our friend for those of us who knew him well. We all seem to have a number of these benches around our homes and workshops. Many of us in our turn have shown others this design and led them in building these refined benches.
During this three day class, students will cut and shape their own democratic bench using just four wide pine boards and hand tools. Basic hand tool skills, layout, design, tool use and sharpening will all be taught.
7. Making a John Brown style vernacular Windsor chair - 7 day class
August 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, September 1
exertion level 2+ - materials fee: $75
In this seven day workshop we will learn to make and assemble a Welsh style vernacular Windsor. The chairs which Kenneth builds (and the way he teaches students to to build them) are based on the unique design and techniques he learned while he was an apprentice with the late John Brown, the self-taught Welsh chair maker.
A pre-requisite for this class is the MACFAT/ Post and Rung Ladder Back Chair class.
Using hand tools, we’ll shape and assemble chair parts, working with both green and air-dried hardwoods. Some parts will be roughed out ahead of time (although this in not a kit) in order to allow for time constraints and various student skill levels.
All necessary specialized chair-making tools will be available for use and materials are all provided.
This is a very full learning experience and students will need to oil or otherwise finish their chairs after the conclusion of the class.
Students will need to be able to transport their chairs home after class (finished chairs measure 28” wide, 43” tall, 23” deep.)
"Power machines are unfriendly for they are very noisy and make a lot of unpleasant dust.
Craft woodworking should be a creative activity, with the practitioners as artists.
Surrounded by ugly, noisy, dusty machines the woodworker does not have the environment in which to do good work."
- John Brown
8. Spoon Carving Intensive - 6 day class
September 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
exertion level 1 - materials fee: none
A wonderful and full week of carving spoons together, for all levels of skill and experience.
We will start by taking a walk in our surrounding woods to look at trees and natural crooks from which to make curved wooden spoons. Larger serving spoons will allow more room for practicing knife and axe skills, but students can experiment and play with many sorts and sizes of spoons and utensils. Participants can experiment with our collection of carving axes to rough out spoon blanks and get a feel for different weights and styles of axes. We've also got block knives for the roughing-out process. We’ll discuss layout and design choices before we dive in with straight and curved knives to refine and shape our spoons. Kenneth will introduce a variety of techniques and tool choices, such as bent and dog leg gouges as alternatives or additions to the standard slöjd knives for carving. Emphasis is placed on using natural crooks and following the wood fibers to design for curvaceous, flowing lines. Much attention will be paid to proportions and resolving facets in a pleasing way. We’ll also explore decorative carving and applying pigment to the surfaces of spoons to add to their appeal and interest.
Sharpening (grinding, honing and stropping), safe and effective knife grips, work-holding options, understanding wood species and selection, and design feedback/discussion will all be covered.
Because of our small class size (limit of five) Kenneth is able to work with each student to improve and deepen their sense of carving wherever they are in terms of familiarity with design choices, tool skills and previous hand work experience.
9. Black Ash Market Baskets - 3 day class
co-taught by April Stone & Kerry Lambertson.
September 27, 28, 29
exertion level 1 - materials fee: $30
We have space for up to 8 students in this class.
April Stone & Kerry Lambertson are coming from Minnesota to teach this introductory 3 day black ash weaving class. A well-made, high-quality ash basket like the ones we will produce can last generations and will serve a tremendous amount of uses; from a trip to the beach, to apple picking, to those many trips to the grocery store.
Students will each weave a handled basket of black ash measuring approximately 11” x 6” x 6”, ultimately 12” tall once the steam bent handle is attached. Preparing splint, weaving, steam bending the ash handle, splitting gauges, and knife work will be a part of this class, as well as a demo of pounding the ash tree for the splints used for weaving.
This class can accommodate up to 8 students.
April Stone has been weaving black ash baskets full time since 1998. She prefers elegant but utilitarian forms, and as a member of the Bad River Ojibwe Band of Wisconsin her work is informed by indigenous weaving tradition. April practices all parts of the black ash basket process, from selecting trees in the forest to pounding, processing, and weaving her own material.
Kerry Lambertson is a woodworker from northern Minnesota with an enduring interest in basket making. He was first introduced to the process in 2007 by weaver April Stone, and he’s been weaving ever since. Recently, his interest has turned more towards shaving and bending basket handles as well as making violins.
10. American Crafts: Whittling & Tramp Art - 6 day class
October 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
exertion level 1 - materials fee: $15
This class will investigate two uniquely American crafts; whittling and Tramp Art.
Whittling is an American genre of carving with an emphasis on puzzles, tricks and toys. Clever wooden magic tricks is one way to think of it. Most sources show whittling projects that are decorative or entertaining, as opposed to utilitarian. They’re always fun, crafty items, like the classic wooden chain or the ball and cage.
Students will gain knife skills, learn about wood selection and species, plus basic tool care and sharpening as they create some of these classically American things to amaze their family and friends.
Next we’ll learn about the American folk art tradition of Tramp Art, which was practiced by itinerant or vagabond craftspeople displaced by the Great Depression. There are lovely examples of elaborately layered, chip carved boxes, picture frames and other items small enough to be portable. These crafts were produced from cast-off materials such as salvaged cigar boxes or partially burnt matches. The only tool required was a knife and the articles could be sold or traded at a time when lots of Americans were struggling to survive.
Many green wood woodworkers have been inspired by the vivid craft tradition of Scandinavia and the culture of slöjd. We’re excited to share this new class about a few of the hand craft traditions originating here in America.