2018 – Spoon Carving & other Workshops

Spoon Carving Workshops: April 29 – May 5, The Buckeye Gathering, I’ll be spoon-carving; others will be hide-tanning, fire-making, flint-snapping, and everything else May 8-14, I’ll be teaching a full week of greenwood at the post Buckeye pathways event: spoons, bowls, shrink pots, the lathe (foot-powered), decorative and sculptural work, tools, techniques, etc.. There may also be possibilities for tool-making w/Bryce Wood, a great smith who uses simple, minimal technology to make metal tools. June 2-3, two one-day classes at Wildwood View Garden in Portland, $75, Registration and info: potlatch@cmug.com or call 541-929-4301. June 9th, June 16, two one-day spoon carving classes in Corvallis.…

The Scything Handbook: Learn How to Cut Grass, Mow Meadows and Harvest Grain by Hand

The Scything Handbook is one more on a string of beautiful, helpful (and once common) pearls that can help save us from a debilitating fate as mere “consumers,” and restore us to our birthrights as participants in creation. Full disclosure here, I know the author Ian. We’re teaching a class together in Oregon this August (info and registration here), and I also wrote the forward to his book, which is brief, clear, and as simple as a clean cut with a sharp blade — an ideal starting place if you’re interested in giving up your stinky, noisy mowing machine and replacing it with an old-world scythe.…

2017 – Crooked knives for Greenwood; in April!

Crooked knives for Greenwood is an

introduction to bladesmithing and green woodcraft. I’ll be teaching it at Aprovecho Institute, in Cottage Grove, OR, April 4-8, 2018. Join us to learn how to make your own basic toolkit for all kinds of decorative and practical woodwork. We’ll start by forging the essential tool for carving spoons and bowls, a crooked or bent knife. In addition to new tools, you’ll go home with the knowledge to set up your own inexpensive, simple forge. We’ll learn about hardening/tempering, sharpening, knife use/grips/techniques, other bladed tools, principles of carving, sculpture, and design, discussion (and demonstration) of traditional and appropriate technologies, including the foot-powered lathe (which requires tools you forge yourself).…

Spoon Carving w/Lynn Rosetto Kasper on The Splendid Table

This spring, after my first spoon carving class of the season, I got a call from Lynne Rosetto Kasper, of the Splendid Table. She did a show about earthen ovens years ago, but wanted to talk spoons — Wow! What could be more fun?! I sent her some spoons and a pages of enthusiastic spoon notes…

But we needed a fancy sound room to do the interview; it took a few weeks of wrangling to schedule a time w/the folks at Oregon State U. in Corvallis. Ironically, the location was a brand new building called the Learning Integration Center. Tho it’s beyond me how they hope to “integrate” learning in what must be about the coldest, most sterile, flattest, deadest place you could possibly design.…

2016 – Spoon-Carving Classes or Why it’s good to carve your own spoon

This summer, I’ll be teaching three spoon carving classes, all on Saturdays: May 21 June 18 and August 20 Classes are hosted by friends Richard and Charlene at Nanacardoon, their wonderful 1.5 acre suburban food-forest/garden/learning ground. It was very popular (and fun) — we spend a day learning about wood and basic axe and knife techniques so that everyone can go home w/a spoon. Click to see more about the class and to register (great grub included!)

I’ll also be teaching green woodworking at a couple of primitive skills gatherings: Buckeye, in CA, May 1 – 7 (already full) And Echoes in Time, near Salem OR, July 17-23.…

Beauty and Building

It’s hard to talk to people about beauty and building. Last fall, a friend of a friend came by to see what we’re building. He looked appreciatively at our modest but well-built structure — which I have been ornamenting by cutting curves in rafter tails and support brackets — and said, “why are you spending all this time to cut fancy shapes when you have a house to build?” Before I could reply, he said, almost to himself, “Oh, you’re an artist,” as if that explained otherwise aberrant behavior, like a diagnosis of disease.

It’s the view from economic laws of production and profit.…

earth oven building errors to avoid

Especially when building a larger oven, there are some clear earth oven building errors to avoid. (Building an oven is simple, but the truth is that nothing is quite as simple as it may first appear, especially when you build a fire in it.) Heather Coiner of Hat Creek Farm in Virginia (in photo) has generously documented some of the mistakes they made on a commercial-scale oven they built (and used successfully) on their farm — and which they recently took down after building their next oven — a full-scale brick oven built by Eric Moshier, of Solid Rock Masonry. Here’s the link.…

The Value of Water

The thirsty drink water from a bowl made of mountains, hills, and trees…

In the rural area where I lived for 20 years — and throughout Oregon, as well as elsewhere — “watershed management” has become a common term. Farmers and ranchers compete with urbanites and salmon for water to feed us all. The media call them “water wars,” but without water, no one eats and no one “wins.” If the salmon lose, we lose too. The issue looms ever larger: climate change, population growth, and an economy on the verge of collapse. Fear makes it hard to manage anything, but we try.…

Bill Coperthwaite & the Arts of Culture

A review of A Man Apart, Bill Coperthaite’s Radical Experiment in Living, by Peter Forbes & Helen Whybrow

A Man Apart, Bill Coperthaite’s Radical Experiment in Living, by Peter Forbes & Helen Whybrow

I met Bill Coperthwaite in 2007. I had recently read his book, A Hand Made Life, and was deeply impressed by his stories and practice, and the way he was trying to live out an answer to questions that, by our denial of them, define our culture:

“Can you have ‘culture’ without violence?”

“Is beauty useful?”

“Are justice, democracy, and peace possible if most all of our technologies require violence?”

Like Gandhi, Bill figured that whatever he could make for himself meant less dependence on an imperial master, but where Gandhi lived with hundreds of others in an ashram in India, Bill lived alone on a couple of hundred acres in Northern Maine, at the end of a mile and a half footpath.…