Starting with a freshly cut log you will make your own chair and, at the end of the course, take it home with you. Hopefully it will be a friend for life and something to bequeath to future generations!
If you are looking for a digital de-tox, a few days in the woods and learning something new, this course might be for you. By following a few common sense rules, anyone can work with green woodworking tools safely and proficiently. If you like working with your hands you can discover for yourself the joy of making something useful and beautiful from green wood. No previously learned skills are required.
However, some may find the course physically taxing. The working day is long, from 9.00 am till 6.00 pm each day.
The course instructor is Peter Young. Peter recently retired from directing a study retreat centre in the Scottish Borders. He is passionate about green woodworking and has learned yurt-making from the legendary Hal Wynne-Jones and chair making from the equally legendary Mike Abbott. Mike has done more than anyone else in the UK to rescue green woodworking from oblivion, and is supportive of these courses.
Peter feels deeply that this traditional type of work has wisdom in it, respecting both the materials and ourselves. 'We can learn a lot from it,' he says. 'We work with nature, not against it. We use only local, sustainably grown timber, often from coppiced woodland. Every bit is used and nothing wasted. But more than this, we try to see what the particular log is doing, how the grain is flowing and from this we learn what part it wants to play in the whole chair.'
The course venue is Broughtonknowe, a privately owned wood, 25 miles south of Edinburgh on the A701. By car, it is within easy reach for commuting daily from Edinburgh (45 mins) and 75 minutes from Carlisle.
The course takes place in a stunning disused quarry within a woodland, under a tarpaulin shelter. Hopefully the courses in 2020 will be in the new woodland workshop, a large yurt structure currently under construction.
There are basic facilities - composting toilet, kitchenette etc. Camping on site is possible.
What do you need to bring? Several layers of clothing for a changeable climate. Midge repellent possibly?
If you will be redeeming a CraftCourses gift voucher on this course, the voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
All tools and equipment are provided. The green ash and seat weaving materials for making your chair are included in the course fees.
Tea, coffee, cake and biscuits are included as well as a light lunch - bread, soup, cheese, olives etc. or we might cook something, depending on how we all feel.
Peter Young at Green Ash Chairs
Broughtonknowe Woods Broughton Biggar South Lanarkshire ML12 6HL
What a wonderful week I had taking my woodworking to another dimension by turning a "bit of a tree" into a fantastic chair using traditional hand skills.
Thanks Peter for sharing your skills and expertise with me in a way that encouraged a better understanding of what can be done with green wood and opening up a whole new interest for me.
As well making the chair the social aspects of the course were great, allowing collaborative working and a good ethos.
The set up Peter has is well organised and resourced to allow the chair to be completed in the one week timescale.
The food provided was also excellent.
One week on and at home I have built a shave horse and am gathering tools from ebay and looking to source green ash.
This is simply a wonderful course. The old quarry at Broughtonknowe wood is an idyllic setting, and Peter has invested so much thought and attention into equipping the site for chair making. Peter is a thoughtful and patient teacher, and had a special capacity to connect with all of us as individuals. The group dynamic was therefore very special, which is important, because you spend a fair amount of time working in pairs at various stages of the making process. Peter also went out of his way to help us complete our chairs on time, so that we all were able to leave on Friday with something that looked really special. I felt I had learned a whole raft of new woodworking skills, which I'm now eager to try out at home. I'm still astounded that it possible to turn a log into piece of strong, elegant furniture in five days -- with essentially just hand tools, and without glue!
Thank you, Peter, for sharing your time and your skills with us.
Peter teaches well and shows a sound understanding of the skills and methods needed for all aspects of these projects. He makes a brilliant cup of tea, and is a lovely guy. There was just a whole Zen about the experience for me. The people, the location, the project. It just made for a very calm week.
Th experience of immersing yourself in learning and making for a week is fantastic. Peter is a kind, patient and encouraging teacher who seems to know when you need a bit of help, and when it's best to leave you to get on with it at your own pace. Love my chair, and couldn't recommend this course enough!
this is a really amazing course and I would recommend it to everyone. peter is an amazing tutor and the whole process of making the chair is made clear and simple from the start. I can't express how fun and rewarding this course is. to be honest I probably would have done it even if I didn't get to keep the chair! this is a great course and I think everyone should do it!
After a week on the job again and in the quiet of the weekend after this great course in Fushiebridge comes back to my mind. The chair I could build with Peters specialized assistance for my wife, we both like very much. Even more I enjoyed being with Peter and the other participants and having this time with them, the talks about green woodworking and the senses of working with nature as a companion. In that way Peter have shown us how to build a chair in the open air and with simple tools, how every step became obvious, everyone will be able to do it. I'm glad I was there.
Hermann from Franconia (Germany)
Making a chair quite literally from scratch is an experience I won't forget. The sense of achievement and pride at the end is well worth the effort. I was impressed with Peter's ingenuity and his hand made tools. It was deeply humbling to learn a little of his craft. If you have any apprehensions about signing up, be brave, you won't regret it!
P.s. a shout-out also goes to Peter's wife who made us such delicious lunches each day. Thank you to you both!
Green Ash Chairs:
Thanks SK, what a very heartening response! My wife and I are very pleased you enjoyed the lunches. Enjoy your chair!
For me taking taking part in this course was both tranformative and elevating and I enjoyed it so much. "Following the grain" was not only in working with the wood, it was also in the way I related to myself during this process and also in the way Hakim related to me. I feel truly humbled and grateful to have been taught how to make a chair to seat on...and it fits so beautifully in my kitchen. Merci.
Green Ash Chairs:
Thanks Sylvain, it was a pleasure to have your company for 5 days! Enjoy you chair!
It was a wonderful experience to learn how to make a chair with a few branches of ash, some hand tools, my own hands and Peter's guidance. For me green wood work was new and I feel I made a great discovery; It suspended the time for 5 days, opening a place for letting go. Peter's way of teaching is in harmony with this idea of letting go: pressureless, enjoyable and safe! ... Going with the grain.
Embarking on the course was an adventure since I had never worked with wood before. It was soon obvious that the task was as huge as my lack of experience, and that it would be wise to let myself be carried along - by the process, the instructions, and the material itself. Every component part had to be shaved to size from a freshly cleaved ash log. I felt a like a sculptor facing a raw block of marble. The statement that it would be 'like butter' was met with some scepticism, but then we did discover the wonderful way of working WITH the wood. The meaning of 'going with the grain' was brought home constantly and tangibly. Physically it was hard work, with sore muscles and the occasional blister and splinter. But the repetitive actions and intense focus can soon lead into a meditative state, where you find 'all of yourself' being present, surrendering to the needs of the chair-to-be. Here also going with the grain, metaphorically, and a taste of what 'doing without doing' might be. Peter accompanies through the process with his skills, as well as caring and sensitive presence, quite aptly 'teaching without teaching'.
It was a real privilege to be taught by Peter Young, not only the technical aspects of chair making, but more especially the opportunity to share thoughts on the 'wisdom of this work, respecting both the materials and ourselves'. I had admired Peter's own chairs at a local show and wanted to learn with him how to make these wonderful objects. I'm an experienced woodworker, but had never worked green wood. I'm also interested in the management and conservation of native woodland. So these different interests came together in this course. I had quite particular objectives. I wanted to explore the methods. I particularly wanted to 'listen to the grain' in a way that green woodworking offers much more directly than, say, frame-and-panel cabinetmaking. I also had particular concerns before I began: would I manage to learn quickly enough to actually make a chair? But at the beginning of the course I wasn't wedded to the idea of taking home a chair. An as it turned out (of course) with Peter's guidance and thoughtfulness, the whole process was fun. It was great to work with the other two students. And in the end, I made my chair. Unexpectedly, it stands there as a little achievement and beckons me to more green woodworking. I've started to make some small things from my own ash and to combine green woodworking and 'bench work' in new ways.
To make a chair in a week and learn the skills on the way is a tight programme. I would have liked an extra day or even two with Peter to explore a bit more the feel of splitting, shaving, bending green wood, of working closer to the tree, working with, and listening to, the grain. But I guess most people have just a week and within this limitation the course was organised ideally. Perhaps Peter should think of also running short introductory courses that provide plenty of time to play and to make mistakes. Maybe such a course could produce a more modest object that would become a reminder of things learned in the sun and rain in the wood. Thank you Peter for a great course. And the lovely lunches!
This course in Greenwood Chair making allowed me to deepen my understanding and appreciation of woodworking and the art of 'going with the grain'. I came to the course with no previous experience in woodworking, but the pace and intimacy of the course accommodated my skill level, and I was able to absorb as much learning as I could. The location was peaceful and green, and the quiet of the surroundings made for a heightened level of awareness, as we were fully immersed in the tasks at hand. Peter is a clear and responsive teacher. He offered good direction, whilst allowing room for the creativity of each student. The course allowed me to develop craft skills and to take a step outside of my routine to see things differently. And I also made a beautiful chair!
Making my chair was a challenging undertaking as I had never done anything like this before. Peter was very patient in introducing and helping me with the new skills needed.
It was inspiring to make a beautiful object starting from a log of wood and using traditional tools.
The woodland setting is perfect for this course.
I am delighted with my chair.