Last Sunday was an unconditional win.
Got up early, to find bright blue skies, dry roads, and a lovely chill in the air. This is the kind of riding weather that makes me feel frankly privileged to be out on the roads, and today’s roads were perfect – Not too full of traffic, and mostly mildly-twisty old Yorkshire town roads, up and down hills to the woods which were surprisingly easy to find.
I was going to a whittling workshop, ran by C, (met on Twitter, where he’s @brightaire) in one of the many bits of pleasant local woodland. I arrived to find half a dozen people camped near the model railway, with a good-sized campfire, a pile of freshly-sawn greenwood (ash), a selection of hatchets, billhooks, and whittling knives, and lots of tea.
After a quick talk about tool safety (Including the awful words “blood bubble” far too many times, and strict instructions to think about where your femoral artery is if you’re sitting and whittling over your lap) we were quickly taught the basics of whittling – How it was important to always split a log through the pith, the centre of the growth rings, since that was the weak point, then how to saw inwards to make stop-cuts, then to whittle in towards them, either away from yourself, or towards (as if peeling a turnip). This was all that we needed to get started on the project for the day – The aforementioned skulk of foxes.
Mine… I won’t say that mine turned out well (I managed to make one of six) but the action of actually carving made me really happy, and really enthusiastic about the idea of doing more whittling in future (Basically as soon as I’ve bought a small pull-saw and a curved scoop). There’s something very meditative about slowly revealing the shape that you want out of a solid piece of media – I’ve never done subtractive sculpting before; My medium has always been clay, where any over-deep carve can be corrected in a second by sticking a bit more on the top, but also which works a lot faster in-general, so you can’t just slowly decide what you’re doing as you cut down towards it. It was a very refreshing change, and a lovely change of pace. Plus, with this being a new activity, I didn’t feel like I was under so much pressure – I wasn’t comparing myself to my own pre-degeneration work, or the master sculptors that I’ve admired for years, I was just sitting in the forest, with a collection of nice people, and a few blocks of wood that I could turn into something pretty, with no particular pressure to be good at it. Exactly what I needed.
Definitely going to the next workshop, which will be pewter casting, at the start of March. Thoroughly reccommend it to anyone that’s even vaguely Local.