Duration: 2 Days
at Martin Damen - Maker of Hand-carved Spoons & Bowls
About the Course
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Two day spoon carving course near Banbury, Oxfordshire
Spoon carving is a traditional craft that most can learn. The tools required are few and affordable and the wood is usually available locally at little or no cost.
The two-day spoon carving course I run is aimed at beginners or the self-taught wishing to improve their skills. Consequently, no previous experience is required, just an enthusiasm to learn a traditional craft. Everything else is provided; tools, timber and of course lunch to keep you going.
You will start by learning how to use traditional tools safely and effectively before making your first simple project. Having mastered the basic techniques we progress to making your first hand-carved wooden spoon. Time permitting you can then make other items.
During the course you will also learn:
• What wood to use and where to find it.
• How to care for and sharpen your tools.
The courses are run in the village of Great Bourton in north Oxfordshire. Located on the edge of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and within easy reach of Oxford and the historic towns of Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. The course could therefore be part of a holiday break and the area provides plenty of opportunities for non-participating partners.
If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above. Your voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
* Two days tuition.
* Tools and wood supplied.
* Straight carving knife to take home.
* Course notes to take home.
* Wood to take home.
* Lunch and refreshments on both days.
I would highly recommend this fantastic course to anyone interested in spoon carving.
Martin’s tuition was clear, thorough and methodical, providing a comprehensive introduction to the craft with an emphasis on safety. After expertly demonstrating each technique, he described the required holds and movements in a way that was simple to understand. He was both patient and approachable, encouraging us to ask questions as we went along.
The small group size of 4 students meant that we were closely supervised and Martin was on hand to offer extra help if and when it was needed.
By the end of the weekend, we had covered lots of useful topics including sourcing, selection and storage of wood, tool options to suit a range of budgets, finishing techniques and tool maintenance, plus we were given detailed course notes to remind us of what we had learnt, so we came away well equipped to continue practising our newly acquired skills.
Most importantly, the course was great fun. Martin made us all feel at home and his delicious homemade lunches definitely deserve a mention!
Emma - - #25419
I did Martin's one-day Whittling course a while ago and have just completed the one-day Spoon Carving course. Both were truly superb. Martin is thorough in presenting all the information you need, from understanding which types of wood are best for carving, to picking a knife and how to keep it (and your axe) sharp. But, even more importantly, Martin is a great teacher who creates a friendly, relaxed and fun atmosphere. The cabin-style workshop where he teaches small groups is ideal for tuition and well-equipped—and caters to all abilities. Plus the lunches are home-made and delicious. It's a great way to spend a day, whether or not you decide wood-carving is for you.
Sue B - - #25000
Having carved a number of wooden spoons over the last year I opted for one day of private tuition which Martin tailored to my knowledge and experience with great tact.
The pleasure of learning from such a professional craftsman and teacher was wonderful, taking me through safety, choosing and using wood, to different and new techniques of tool use, and sharpening, throughout sharing his wisdom patiently for a whole day.
This was everything I had hoped for and more, expanding my knowledge and leaving me as excited as ever over creating something both beautiful, traditional and useful.
Maggie King - - #16526
What can I say that hasn't been said by just about everyone rating this course? Absolutely fantastic. You know the old saying--'those that can, do; those that can't, teach'. In this case you couldn't be further from the truth. I've taken the basic whittling course from Martin a few months ago and was very impressed with his teaching style. With the Spoon Whittling weekend I was impressed even more. More advanced knife work as well as hand axe work (that I was interested in, in particular) that as always starts with safety and good technique. But what impressed me the most was the clear progression of techniques that build upon previously taught and practiced ones. I feel much more comfortable in tackling my own spoons now, although it may take a few decades of practice to even approach the beauty of what Martin has already done! I won't even go into his home-made lunches--but if asking for (and receiving) copies of his recipes is any indication...
If you want to spend 2 days learning a lot, enjoying the company of fellow whittlers, having a Master Class with a warm, humorous teacher, and ending both days with a smile plastered on your face, you can't go far wrong with this course.
Tom McGrath - - #15562
This is an exceptional course, delivered in a beautiful, calm, setting that really highlight Martin's excellent teaching skills. His breadth of experience was evident throughout the course and really enabled him to capture some of the general principles of working with green wood, in just a few simple lessons. Martin was also more than happy to adapt his delicious catering for my dietary requirements.
Came away excited, enthused and not a little surprised I'd actually managed to carve something that looks vaguely like a spoon!
Gareth - - #15418
A truly wonderful course with an exceptional teacher. The setup was perfect and Martin was amazing at sharing his knowledge to the group. I look forward to doing more courses with him in the future.
Philip Turner - - #14442
I cannot recommend this course highly enough. Martin is a fantastic host and teacher who is always willing to work one on one and provide patient advice to coach you though the wonderful craft of spoon carving.
With the small group size the sessions feel intimate and relaxed which allows everyone to get a grasp of the fundamentals. If you are considering learning a traditional craft this course covers everything you need to get started, in a warm and welcoming environment. The home cooked lunch is also fantastic!
Alex Ferguson - - #11878
Excellent course. Just the right degree of stretch to provide a sense of having learned a great deal, and of achievement, without feeling at all stressful. Good lunches and good company. A weekend very well spent. If, like me, you have not been in an explicitly "learning" environment for while, it is fascinating to watch yourself doing so, under Martin's expert and tactful tuition.
Michael W - - #10522
I absolutely recommend this course to anyone who has a desire to learn about, and try their hand at, spoon carving!
Martin is the consummate host and teacher. He has set up the whole environment to put his small groups of students at ease and allow them to learn safe knife and axe skills - and to walk away with their own-made butter spreader and spoon ... and, if or group is anything to go by, a desire to do more :-)
Martin demonstrates every task that you will undertake and is always there to quietly help out when/if you get stuck and to let you get on your way again.
Oh, and ... great lunches are provided too!
I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone with a desire to explore the world of greenwood carving to get themselves booked in on one of Martin's courses!
MartinW - - #10502
Excellent course. I really liked the relaxed atmosphere, and the level of supervision you get. (A group of only 4 students). The course notes are provided. This is very useful. Martin is very serious about safety too. As a bonus yummy home made cooked lunches. Thanks Martin!
Vincent - - #9189
I had never worked with wood before and thoroughly enjoyed this course. We made a butter knife on day one and a spoon on day two. Martin's teaching is very patient, thorough and clear, especially on health and safety and good tool technique. I feel really pleased with my spoon and feel confident to have a go at the techniques I have learnt at home. I would recommend this course+++
Mrs Elizabeth Bond - - #6007
Morning after Martin's spoon making course, coping with upper body aches so it must have been good exercise. Never too old to learn to do something properly what I wanted from Martin's course was a safe introduction to the effective use of axe and knife for shaping and carving techniques previously assembled at random. The course provided exactly what Martin advertised in a small group (4) workshop situation. Everything and especially hands on advice were good, though inevitably time ran out Martin is a committed creative craftsman who leaves you with new knowledge and respect for edges, and evidence of your work to amaze relatives who wondered what you were doing. A full value weekend ... the Clarksonesque observations are worth waiting for.
Brian Goodey - - #5994
We enjoyed the whittling course so much last year, we booked the spoon making course and weren't disappointed. Fascinating, practical and great fun to learn, Martin shares his green wood skills with enthusiasm and care and helps you to achieve so much in a very short time. All tools, materials and ideas are provided; along with fab home cooked food to make the time really enjoyable and relaxing.
Pat - - #5990
Two very enjoyable days learning spoon carving. Martin is a great teacher, very patient and enthusiastic. Put on a good lunch with plenty of tea and biscuits. The course has given me a really good grounding in the basics of carving, I started as soon as I got home! Thoroughly recommended.
Tom Bartlett - - #5643
Just had a lovely weekend learning spoon carving with Martin. He is a patient teacher, and as people have said an excellent cook too. He taught in a logical, calm way, with a basis of safety so that not one of the four of us needed plasters. He teaches skills and how to handle different scenarios (twisty wood, knots, splits etc) rather than a formulaic approach, and he uses the minimum of kit rather than trying to make you buy loads of stuff (though of course I want a lovely carving axe now!). Also his house and the countryside are beautiful. You can visit his studio in Artweeks if you want to meet him before signing up for a course, but I would heartily recommend his tuition, and I think the price is very reasonable for two days of expert tuition, materials and a knife, a mini sharpening course, plus extra wood to take home and practice on, and of course the lunch! We ate soup with Martin's handmade spoons. All in all, great fun, and we made real, usable implements.
Jen - - #5052
Just completed the two day course with Martin , a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. could not ask for better tuition given at just the right speed, so that anyone could follow now matter what skill level they are at , the home made soup bread and boiled fruit are to die for, I would highly recommend this course if you'd like to learn a new skill
Ian watkins - - #4544
Just spent the weekend doing this course and would highly recommend it. The course is excellent value and the teaching pace just right. You come away with 2 completed projects, spare wood, a knife and you will have had two great homemade lunches too. What more could you want. It would make a great present for someone too.
Mark - - #4543
I recently attended one of Martin's weekend spoon carving courses. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Martin is an excellent tutor and the course has the right balance of practical work to theory. As an absolute beginner, to be able to produce a spoon and butter knife from a block of wood using only traditional craft skills gave me a great deal of satisfaction and says a lot for Martin's teaching skills.
This is a course I highly recommend.
Martin has to be applauded for maintaining and passing on these traditional craft skills.
John Bone - - #3840
Martin is an excellent teacher, highly skilled craftsmen and thoughtful carving artist The whole event was very well run without pressure but with a sense of determination and destiny - you take your spoon and butter knife home, dry it and use it…
All tools are supplied and are excellent standard and very well sharpened-aGond Martin provides a detailed background on all of the steps and materials used.
I really enjoyed my weekend here, And Martin is not only an excellent teacher but a generous and welcoming host.
Simon - - #3625
Very good course, well taught. Martin's approach was excellent, the tuition was at a good pace with plenty of practical time. He was always always happy to help out if asked but also happy to let you get on with making you own mistakes! Well organised too – lovely lunches both days.
Toby - - #3621
Everything about this course was informative and enjoyable. Our first briefing was on the safe use of tools, and we were given all the techniques and tips to stay safe, efficient and gain confidence. All the tools are in peak working order, and sharpened and polished to perfection. The workshop is impeccable, and with the emphasis on functionality. Martin's course is as honed as one of his spoons. It was perfectly paced and in line with our abilities, with enough time to absorb new information as we progressed. The tips and tricks he throws in are very valuable. Our course lunches were another highlight, as Martin is a great cook. I would recommend this course as a perfect introduction to spoon carving from a master craftsman. An unforgettable weekend!
Nicolene - - #2892
I can't speak too highly of this course. It was excellent in every aspect: the location and venue, the course arrangements, the teaching and support, and the catering!
I was given the course as a gift by my wife, having previously told her on a number of occasions that one day I'd like to have a go at spoon-carving. But I had no experience of woodwork in any form and was quite nervous of working with sharp tools. The first thing that Martin did was to teach us safe working techniques and to explain how, why, when to use the appropriate tool.
The pacing and style of teaching suited me perfectly; Martin is highly knowledgable and communicates clearly, interestingly and with real enthusiasm. He's always happy to give advice and support to individuals within the teaching group (a class size of four was perfect), and generated a friendly and welcoming atmosphere from the get-go.
Over the two days we each made a butterknife and a spoon, but more importantly I came away with a real desire to do more, and a good sense of how to go about it.
What else could one want from a course? (And I write as someone who worked for many years in Adult Education, and therefore has a sense of what makes for a quality course).
Simon Tepper - - #2866
This is an absolutely fantastic course that teaches a creative and useful set of skills, and does so in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. Knife and axe skills are covered thoroughly and safety with tools is closely observed, which made me feel safe during the whole experience. Course notes are provided that cover all the essential information from start to finish, including choosing types of wood to use.
I wholeheartedly recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn a traditional (and practical) craft!
Joshua Harris-Jones - - #2459
This is an excellent course which packs plenty of knowledge into what feels like a very relaxed and laid back weekend. The notes that are provided cover all things you may forget to write down and Martin has an array of tools to try. I would recommend this this course strongly to anyone looking to pick up a new hobby .
Ross - - #2196
I spent two enjoyable days in a lovely shed in a wonderful garden learning how to carve a spoon and a butter knife. Martin is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher. He explains everything you need to do thoroughly then lets you get on with the task while keeping a watchful eye. I highly recommend this course.
Nev Wiggins - - #1707
Enjoyed the whole process from log to butter knife and then log to spoon. Learnt a great deal: the tools required, the different techniques, the wood and it's personality, the sharpening of tools, the overall skill involved. Now set to practise and practise until some of those techniques are honed and I produce something I am happy to give to someone special!
I would highly recommend this course to anyone wishing to understand and learn a traditional craft.
Martin was patient, calm and knowledgeable and a great cook to boot!
Fiona - - #1580
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