First things first, what is green woodworking? Simply put, it is working with wood in its most raw state. The wood is freshly harvested, meaning it has been cut within a few weeks and has a high moisture content, making it easy to split, cut, and carve by hand. The wood used in our workshops comes from a variety of London tree surgeons, who discard what has been cut from a range of locations. If we don't use the wood from these sources, it is mainly chipped and used as weed suppressant mulch.
Sculptural green woodworking is the starting place for creating large scale sculptural objects from green timber. We work together to gain confidence and develop the foundation skills of making, often starting with large animal sculptures. We select timber as a group, making informal and spontaneous decisions that effortlessly move us through the process. Techniques are demonstrated, participants copy, and the artwork makes itself over the course of a half day or full day session. Working within a group allows us to achieve ambitious forms as the sculpture is broken down into various sections and worked on by different participants. It also allows a multitude of activities to take place simultaneously, so the choice to sample a medley of experiences or focus on one is up to you.
At this primary level, we tend to stick to a variety of hand tools. By using bow saws then wedges and mallets of varying sizes, from a hand carved wooden mallet to a heavy steel sledge hammer, we extract pieces of wood from large tree trunks for our sculpture. We learn to manipulate the wood and fashion its form, first using carving axes and draw knives, then wood carving gouges and mallets.
The key here is simplicity, we are using techniques that are easily learned, which allows the participants to gain confidence and gives a framework on which to explore the world of making, craft and sculpture. Spontaneous moments are captured, energy is shared, all within the supportive atmosphere of the Creative nature HQ. We love what we do and we love to share with others.
So what happens to all the work, do I get to take my work home with me? One of the main principles of Creative nature is to learn and share new skills and discover the power of working collectively. Making sculptures takes much more time than people often think it does, and the workshop helps you adjust to the speed of making. Because of this, work does not get finished in one session but a piece is handed from one group to another until it is finished. At this point, the work can be purchased by individuals or adopted for free by an organization via our Sculptural Adoption Scheme, which you can learn more about here. When an artwork is purchased or adopted, the resources are then used for the next collective woodworking project.
At Creative nature HQ, we aim to find good homes for sculptures crafted by our community wood carving and willow weaving programmes. We are looking to develop relationships with local organisations who will give a home to these pieces of work, look after them, and raise awareness of our project. The project is about bringing people together, learning new skills, being part of something sustainable and connecting us all to our inherent creativity.