Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Finnish spoon design - plans

A very nice chap in Finland sent these over to me the other week.

The scans are from the wartime "Kotiteollisuus" ["Home industry"] periodical. Designed by the The Finnish Defence Forces during the Continuation War's trench warfare period started in December 1941. The soldiers had a lot of spare time, and made these and axe handles then sold them to a government monopoly and again to civilian markets. They were also made for themselves, and to be sent home, or to be traded for tobacco etc.
They are to be made out of high-quality birch wood
The "No 1" spoon in the above picture should be made either 20 or 29 cm in length and the bowl should be either 5.5 or 7.0 cm in diameter.
"No 2" is either 33 or 36 cm and 7.5 and 8.5 cm.
"No 3" is either 33 or 36.5 cm and 7.5 or 9.0 cm.
"No 4" is either 36.5 or 43 cm and 11.0 or 13.0 cm.
I think in order of spoons that they are an eating spoon, serving, cooking, and ladle but like all spoons there's a lot of cross over in duties. I think the larger of the two choices in sizes would be handy for cooking for large groups in a fixed camp, which is just what I intend to do in just under two weeks for a group of students on a course I'm running. The cooking spoon and ladle will be great for the soup I'm cooking.

This design by Private Juho Tirilä won a prize in a competition among the Finnish soldiers in 1942.  
I wonder if servicemen and women would be keen to take up spoon carving these days. I think it might help to ease the stress of what they have to go through a little.

I'll be making some copies when I get time to see how they work out, although I'm happy with my own spoons at the moment, its fun to try these things out.

Let me know if you have tried them out yourself, as I've just had permission from the Finish Army to post these up.

Happy spooning!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Woodland skills and cookery course - Elvaston Castle Country Park

I had great fun teaching on this course I helped put together for the folks on this great site. We used an area of mixed species woodland with plenty of resources for bushcraft and woodcrafts.
The main subjects taught were knife skills, firelighting, cooking over fires, cleaving and pole lathe turning, willow weaving and coppicing with many other skills discussed and demonstrated.

We all had a wonderful day and the weather was as good as it ever gets, which really made the experience for the clients as well as the instructors.

A few pictures of the day.

With the site all ready and the sun shining it was time to light the fire and brew up

The students arrive and head over to the kitchen

Tools of the trade

Straight into the knife and fire sessions

My knees taking a pounding as ever

Not bad for a first attempt.

A spot of lunch, with freshly made soups, breads, and puddings

Shiny new kit to play with. The frontier stove and Kirtley Kettles

No wind, no rain, sun out, and neither hot nor cold..

...and tinder dry materials mixed with new spring growth.

The afternoon spent willow weaving...

...green woodworking, (Rob looking confused, but turned like a pro)

and obtaining the raw materials.

The benefits of a dry day left the parachute shelter a quiet spot.

Then it was time to say farewell, pack it all up, and head home.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Spoon carving workshop - Shipley Park

Just got back in from teaching at the country park. I had a great time and the new axes I restored worked a treat, and everyone seemed like they had a good day.

Nine students today so I just managed to squeeze them and all the kit in the room. We went through safe knife and axe use with plenty of practice before spoon carving commencement.

A few bits and bobs to help with shapes and ideas

The students collection

Some tool sharpening to get through with the cheapo sharpening system and planet rock for company!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Plaited Birch Bark Basket

When time allows, I am trying to practice some further skills and crafts that are applicable to realistic situations when living in the woods for an extended time, with minimum kit. We use bags, containers, trays, cooking pots, plates, chopping boards, cups, bowls, warm duvets, etc with hardly a thought in our day to day lives and kit heavy camping trips. So I am planning on trying out a few of the old crafts in preparation for a weeks minimal kit trip later in the year.

First up Baskets, for wild food foraging. The reason being that clean large sheets of birch bark are hard to obtain in this country and just as hard to remove from the tree. So strips of bark would be more obtainable, as would cat-tail leaves, Brambles and willow coppice. 
I had some of the best bark I have managed to obtain so far, which was thick and clean from a tree I felled last year but still not large enough for the types of container I wanted, and carving the wooden bottom and lid takes a fair amount of time, as well as the stitching.

Practice attempts below, using cereal boxes. This book is great on the whole but a little misleading in places. I opted for the traditional way using separate weft pieces to go in and out of the upturned warps. I got so carried away making it and the bark one that I didn't take many pictures. There is however a great tutorial here http://www.bushcraft.ridgeonnet.com/birchbarkbasket.htm although I tried not to use pegs or as few as possible as they are not normally around or have to be made in the woods.

Drying the Bark out flat after soaking

My daughter already claimed the baskets for a more important use.

Here it is. A bit on the rough side, and the top section could probably be improved but it feels good and strong. The strips of bark are 25mm wide and on average 45cm long so it is around a 10cm cube. 
I'm happy to have learnt a new method and ended up with a usable item. Glad I spent ages peeling the bark now.