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The Amazing Things About Trees

Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Course Leader Trees never cease to amaze me, the other week a friend told me that one of the drugs used for fighting cancer comes from Yew trees. I also recently read that patients in hospital recover faster from surgery or illness if they’re surrounded by plants and have trees outside their window to look at while another study found that spending time in healthy woodlands is beneficial to our mental health. Sipping on some Birch sap fresh from the tree I’m pondering the claimed health benefits of drinking this. Although about 98% water there are apparently lots of vitamins and nutrients in it including potassium, manganese, thiamine and calcium as well as that hint of sweetness. It tastes pretty much like water but the freshest water you’ve ever tasted! If you believe the hype then it’s helping cleanse my system with every mouthful. Having shed their leaves and drained as much water from their bodies as they could in the Autumn to protect themselves from Winter winds and freezing temperatures, Birch trees are now

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Baskets, Baskets, Baskets!

The latest Woodland Artisan Course was a 2 day willow weaving course with the wonderful Willow Weaving Expert Tim Palmer. Tim had previously taught a course for us and we just had to have him back for another! We had a nice mix in the group of beginners and those that had been on Tim’s courses before. The newcomers to weaving were aiming for a simple woven basket, where as the others were tasked with a challenge of a larger with more difficult techniques. Stages for basket weaving: Weave a round base with thin ‘weavers’ around thicker supporting willow (known as slath). Then add in the stakes around to form the structure for the sides when turned upwards. A weave called Waling is then used to strengthen the base and make the whole basket more rigid. The sides can be woven in several different ways such as Randing, Slewing, Pairing, Reverse Pairing, Fitching, Herringbone and Zig-zag. Once the basket is near the desired height another band of waling is completed before the slath are used to create the border for

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Creating a Highland Cup

The latest course from our Woodland Artisan project was cup carving. Wooden Tom was back to hold another great course, this time using axes, chisels Gouges and knives to carve a Highland cup based on one found in Ardgour on the West Coast created nearly 2000 years ago. We started with a Silver Birch log that requires cutting and splitting to ‘cup size’ and then carving into a finished product. One cup on the day was made from Pine, creating a beautifully stripy cup. Each course attendee got a quarter or half of the original log and, using a guide, the cup shape was marked onto the wood and excess was removed with an axe. Once a rough outline was created the bowl could start being carved – outside first and then the inside using gauges. The lip and handle of the cups were carved last with gauges and knives. Participants each took their cup home which then can be carved with a knife once the green wood has dried. Unfortunately, the winter evenings drew in too quick for us

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