30% discount on all our courses only on 25th November BOOK HERE
Every year on Black Friday our generous booking partners Obby.co.uk fund a 30% discount on all our courses, and 2023 is no different. On 25th November only.
On this day London Green Wood awkwardly straddles the conflicting ideologies between Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day. We don’t believe in mass consumerism, but we do think this is a great opportunity for people to try our courses and learn new skills. So this Black Friday, buy nothing except a course for you and your friends, so you can learn to make something instead.
The Black Friday discount is only available through Obby.co.uk and not via the usual links on our Calendar and Courses pages on the website.
Thanks to Rubio Monocoat Oil for funding these sessions
Hackney Ark is an NHS service for children and young people with disabilities and additional needs. They asked us if we could run some sessions with their young people, but they didn’t have any money for it and most of the young people they work with are from low income families. Luckily the very same week Rubio Monocoat Oil got in touch asking if they could send us some samples of their products and support our work in anyway. So we asked them to fund some sessions for Hackney Ark, and they said yes!
We ran regular school holiday sessions with the young people and their support workers. 15 young people took part. We’re hoping to get more funding to see them again next year, some of them have already asked about joining the coop when they turn 18.
I just wanted to get in touch to give some feedback on the session your fantastic co-op members ran for us over the Easter holidays. As my colleagues have no doubt highlighted in initially contacting you, our team works with some of the most isolated young people in the borough who often struggle to access education and leisure settings. The young people who access our services are largely on the autistic spectrum, many of whom experience high levels of anxiety, especially in accessing new activities. Your team couldn’t have been lovelier, they were so patient in their teaching, kind and engaging. The three young people who made it along had a fantastic time and were discussing afterward how they could pursue this new interest. I cannot overemphasise what an achievement this is – one of the young people is currently unable to attend college or any other group work due to his anxiety, and the environment and staff were so welcoming that he felt entirely relaxed and enthusiastic. It was a joy to see. For our part as staff, we discussed how it didn’t feel like work at all- we are in love with greenwood carving! We can’t thank Sharon and the team who hosted us enough, it really was a fantastic opportunity and we would love to find a way to do more with London Greenwood in the future. What a wonderful community of craftspeople.
Chrissy Baxter, Targeted Health Outreach Worker
Thanks again for putting on another brilliant session, the young people who attended really seem to enjoy the experience. We hope we can do our sessions with you in the future as this is a very good activity.
The Shoreditch Design Triangle is a cultural event that celebrates the creative industry in East London. Running 17th-25th September 2022.
Now in its fourteenth year, the Shoreditch Design Triangle has become one of the largest districts in the London Design Festival, with a reputation for embracing new ideas and fostering community spirit through collaboration.
We will be demonstrating pole-lathe turning and green wood carving at:
SCP, Curtain Rd, 12-5pm, Sat 17th and Sun 18th Sept.
Apart from our courses and occasional funded projects, London Green Wood is run by volunteers. This year we are 10, we were founded as a community organisation at the end of 2011. So far we have taught green woodwork to more than 3000 people.
We started the year, like everyone else, in national lockdown. During this time we gave away wood every week for people to carve at home and taught some online Mindful Whittling courses. In the background, bigger things were happening. A team of 20 LGW volunteers were clearing 17 tonnes of rubbish and rubble from a disused space in Hackney City Farm, bringing it back into community use. We made a new workshop space at the Farm and reopened there after the winter lockdown, courses and our members workshop have been back uninterrupted since April 2021.
Everything has been growing steadily: more courses, more members, more people making things out of green wood. We ran 60% more courses than in 2020 or 2019. Over all our activities we taught green woodwork to over 500 last year. The only thing we didn’t do more of last year was attend community events, they were still pretty low on the ground in the summer. The only public event we went to was Nunhead Open Day. Our members also contributed to the Worshipful Company of Turners Wizardry in Wood exhibition and event at Carpenter’s Hall. One of our core members and Directors had a baby, and everyone else stepped in to keep things running whilst she was away.
Create a welcoming and accessible green wood workshop for a diverse community of woodworkers.
Promote green woodwork.
Provide opportunities for people living in the city to learn traditional rural crafts.
Create opportunities for people to learn new skills and earn money from their skills.
We teach green woodwork courses and create new makers. In 10 years across all our activities we have taught 3,000 people new creative skills.
We provide an affordable cooperative workshop for people to continue developing their own artistic practice. We create opportunities for members to sell their work and take commissions.
We help people to improve their skills through volunteering and to become craft tutors. We have trained 12 tutors (in 2021 we had 7 tutors working for LGW on a freelance basis), one of whom has since founded a green wood CIC in Bristol.
We run regular Family Whittling courses to teach safe knife skills to young people up to 18 and children as young as 6. To date we have worked with 185 families. We have also worked with Scouts and Woodcraft Folk groups, home educating families and an after-school club.
We are the only workshop in London teaching bowl turning on a treadle-powered lathe, which is listed on the Heritage Crafts Association Red List of Endangered Crafts. Since 2019, 60 people have learnt bowl turning with us.
We bring craft participation to under-represented demographics, and developing partnerships with other community organisations. In 2021 we delivering regular sessions with Women After Greatness (who mentor young women of colour) and a Red Cross Asylum Seeker Support Group, we also ran one-off workshops for NEET young people in partnership with Harrow Arts Centre, and for women and non-gender conforming people as part of Cordwainers Grow Bloom series.
We support other start-up craft organisations by giving advice and sharing what we have learnt, including making all our policies and procedures available on our website for others to use and adapt.
A 2021 business analysis by the University of Brighton recognised that we provide a ‘unique opportunity’ to learn heritage crafts in London.
Spoonesaurus Awards London Green Wood was awarded the Spoonesaurus Service Award for making the world better through spoon carving! In recognition of our ‘efforts to make carving wood freely available to people throughout the lockdown in London, thereby protecting people’s mental health by carving at home’. Spoonesaursus is a niche, international magazine about spoon carving. We are very proud to be featured.
Courses We taught green woodwork to 478 people over 79 courses in 2021. This is a huge increase from 271 participants over 47 in 2020 (276 in 2019). Only 73% of courses were fully booked (compared to 83% last year) due to our reduced administrative and promotional capacity this year. 95% of reviews of our courses gave us 5 stars. Over the past 3 years 20% of course participants have returned to join another LGW course, with others continuing to develop their skills at home (supported by tool recommendations from LGW).
In 2021 51% of participants were female, however our experience has shown us that women are less likely than men to return to use the workshop outside the structure of a course. We are a female founded and led organization, but women remain underrepresented among our volunteers, our board of Directors (2 of 6 are female) and our membership (37% female). We do not yet represent the ethnic diversity of our local community. In 2021 BME participation was 15%, greater than the 14% BME population of England and Wales but far below the BME population of London.
We donated 2 spaces to two members of staff from Homerton Hospital, as part of a drive for staff wellbeing, and 1 space on a family workshop to raise money Columbia Primary School. We also trained 2 Forest School leaders from SuperRoots social enterprise, offering them half price places on our Induction to the Workshop course.
New site London Green Wood was born out of Woodcrafty, a project that had been started up by Jax Sheedy and Geraldine Smyth, at Abney Park. When Jax and Gerry moved out of London, London Green Wood was founded to keep the workshop going. We have worked at Abney Park Cemetery since 2011, for almost 10 years. Abney Park has been an integral part of London Green Wood, much of our wood has been sourced from the Park (storm fellings and thinning overgrown areas of the woodland) and we were part of a wild and wonderful ecosystem of plants and people that Abney in particular fosters.
However Hackney Council and Abney Park Trust are embarking
on a £4m building project in the park, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Realising that these building works would cause a lot of disruption and
unpredictable periods of closure for our workshop, we decided to move out for
the period of the building works.
20 Members of our coop volunteered at both the Abney Park and Hackney City Farm sites to make the move happen. We needed to clear a site filled with rubbish and rubble from an unused garden space at Hackney City Farm and enclose the space to control public access. We also helped to build a new artist’s studio for our neighbour at the Farm, the sculptor Gary March. An avenue of fastigiate oak trees was felled for the building works at Abney Park, we rescued this wood and were able to replace all our old chopping blocks and carving donkeys.
Membership At the end of 2021 LGW had 49 members, an increase on 40 members at the end of 2020. Membership fees range from £50-150 per year, 33% of our members pay a low income rate (a figure that has remained stable since we launched our cooperative membership scheme in 2018). We also offer free membership to asylum seekers.
Growth in female membership is slowing, only 37% of our coop are women. Our aim is to attract greater representation across all genders.
Through LGW facilitated commissions members: built a bench for a church, assisted furniture maker Gareth Neal to make huge oak peices, made hundreds of buttons for the fashion designer Bethany Williams, had their work photographed for House and Garden magazine and took part in Bovey Tracey Craft Festival, amongst others. We also sold work at Nunhead Cemetery Open Day and the Xmas Pop-up Shop at the Farm.
We are open to members Wed-Fri every week and usually 3 weekends per month.
Training for members We organized 4 training sessions for members:
First Aid at Work (specifically for outdoor settings), 8 members.
Two sessions on teaching courses and green woodworking sessions, with the aim of creating new new tutors and volunteers, 10 members.
There were also informal skill shares organized by members for members on: leatherwork, sharpening skills, using hook knives and spokeshaves.
Governance Seven members of the coop are currently elected Directors of LGW, these are: Jo Clarke, Roger Chapman, Dave Evers, Cyriaque Lefebvre, Esther Robinson, Sam Downes and Spencer Martin.
In 2021 we updated all our policies and made these available on our website under a Creative Commons license. These 14 documents can be used, amended and copied by any other non-profit organization. We think that creating useful policies can be a disproportionate amount of work for small organisations, so by sharing the work we can help other community organisations to get on with the things the are good at.
Fundraising Although we are not dependant on funding for our core activities, we do apply for grants for new and developmental activities. In 2021 we received grants from the Worshipful Company of Turners, Comic Relief and the National Lottery Community Fund.
Finance Our turnover was £42,288, this is made up of:
Unrestricted income 14% (membership, rent from courses, donations, sales of tools).
Projects and courses 66%, most of which generate no surplus.
Along with other makers from around the world, London Green Wood are taking part in an online fundraising auction for the people of Ukraine.
All proceeds will be donated to the Red Cross DEC Ukraine Appeal. Please get involved; tell your friends, neighbours and family and help us help! London Green Wood members are donating their work for this auction and will pay UK postage.
The auction will take place on Instagram and we will also accept bids by email from those who do not use Instagram. The auction closes at 5pm on Tuesday 5th April.
Here’s how it works: 1. Place your bid in GBP (£) in the comments below the Instagram post. If you are outbid, you’re welcome to bid again (in fact, we encourage you to do that as we want to raise as much money as possible!). If you are unable to use Instagram, please email us with your bid making clear which item you are bidding on. 2. When this auction closes (pm UK time on Tuesday 5th April), the winner will be contacted to organise the donation. 3. The auction will be marked as closed and delivery will be organised. Each maker donating their work has offered to cover UK postage. PLEASE NOTE: If we are unable to contact the winner within 24 hours of the auction closing, we may need to re-list it, or the winner will be the second-highest bidder. If your account is private, please send a DM or email to us if you win
Thanks to Russ West for organising and supporting the auction.
London Green Wood has been working with the Red Cross since 2019, delivering green woodworking sessions for asylum seekers. Membership of our cooperative is free for asylum seekers.
Back in the depths of lockdown, LGW member Spencer Martin floated the idea of a rush seating workshop led by one of the country’s best chair caners. Naturally, uptake was huge but the offer came with a caveat – you have to make a stool first!
This would be the first time most of us had ever made greenwood furniture, let alone a post-and-rung stool, so it was a very good thing that we had three months between us and the course.
We based our design around that in Mike Abbot’s fantastic book “Going with the Grain”, and all got to business making all the parts needed under Spencer’s watchful eye and sage advice.
The basic idea of this stool is that it is made entirely of greenwood – that is no glue, nails or screws – and reliant on the natural shrinkage of the wood to hold the seat rails, rungs and posts together.
We had a glutton of wood to choose from as members had recently salvaged tonnes of freshly felled trees from our previous site at Abney Cemetery, resulting in a beautiful array of colourful stools! Some purebred furniture, some fantastic mongrels from different species including lime, ash, cherry, oak, beech and tulip. Whatever you choose, it helps to find wood that is straight and not too knotty..!
After three months (or a frantic couple of weeks for some!) of slow-making joy, LGW members descended on Hackney City Farm carrying – some via inventive entrapment techniques on bike racks and backpacks – their lovingly handcrafted stool.
Enter our tutor for the day: Rachael South, a third-generation chair caner with the craft in her blood. She was taught by her father who in turn was taught by his father, Michael South, who was a West London chair caner in the 1900s. You can read more about Rachael’s background and family history here: https://spitalfieldslife.com/2021/05/07/rachael-south-chair-caner/
Members arrive to find Rachael wetting bolts of scirpus lacustris schoeneplectus, or freshwater bulrush, that she harvests herself from a secret location in Somerset every summer, using traditional rush knives that look not unlike scythes.
The rush we use has been dried and stored all year in bolts tied up with baler twine. In order for it to be twisted and manipulated, Rachael sprinkles it with water and wraps it in old bedsheets to render it supple enough to be worked. Then each piece must be wiped with a wet flannel to remove any river muck and flatten it, which happens with a satisfying crack as you break the inner structure of the rush.
She shows us how to attach the first piece of rush, twist and wrap it round the first corner and from there we are off! It’s a deceptively simple process, repetitive yet takes skill and concentration to make a neat and even pattern.
We learnt the ‘arrowhead’ rush pattern, as it is easy to learn. Traditional configurations tend to be fairly simple so as to be completed in good time on the street, but Rachael also designs her own impressively complicated looking patterns. Very few tools are needed – just your flannel, a spring clamp to keep the tension, a rush threading tool, a bodkin or awl and a “wooden dolly” that looks like a darning mushroom to smooth the rush once finished.
Rachael clearly enjoys her trade. She recounts tales of her grandfather travelling from Ladbroke Grove to Kensington in his suit, toolbox in hand, repairing chairs all day on the street and revels in the history. She explains the tradition throughout the day with fondness, with an enduring smile that stays put even when engrossed in her own weaving.
The day passed in a lovely haze of making and chatting accompanied by a symphony of snap, crackle and popping, satisfied sighs and the occasional call out for help! Rachael is a fantastic tutor and was very clear in her instructions and attentive and encouraging. She claims it takes her most of a day to complete a whole chair, and of course it takes us a deceptively long time to do – only a couple of members finished their stool in the day but Rachael kindly lent us the tools and rush to be able to complete in our own time.
As we all left the workshop, the various ways of transporting our beloved stools recommenced and we scattered ourselves across town to either sit on our finished stools, or sit on the floor admiring our work and dreaming of the day we would finish it! Safe to say, all participants have now successfully seated their stools and, I imagine, spend endless hours carving, reading, drinking and thinking on our handmade gems. I do at least!
Huge thanks to Spencer Martin for organising the workshop, and for the endless assistance on the build stage of our stools. And of course to Rachael South for imparting her knowledge and displaying her skills with immense modesty and good humour. We really learnt a huge amount and it reinstilled that awareness of how much you can achieve with just your hands and very few tools and materials. Her passion and evident joy in what she does has left a great impression on us and I’m sure we will see more furniture built at the workshop as a result.
Why and how spoon carving can help to recovery from depression and anxiety
LGW coop member and tutor Samuel Alexander on why he loves spoon carving and how it helped him to recovery from depression and anxiety:
” As we approach the end of mental health awareness month, I’d like to share with you just how important green woodworking is to me and how by practicing a heritage craft I have found harmony, tranquility and grounding within a busy environment such as London. Being part of a cooperative brings me a sense of pride and community. Working with hand tools, removing shaving after shaving, reducing a piece of wood to a refined form creates a worldly sense of tactility that is completely transformative.
This video is a project that I worked on with the talented Daisy Gaston and Joyce Nicholls back in March 2019 about what craft really means to us craftspeople.
Using our energy – be it positive or negative- we can make objects that exist in a form that we ourselves have determined. We can hold these objects, see them, read their narrative of tool marks, gift them, sell them, or keep them! Ultimately they exist and bring a new sense of joy to the somewhat vicious process of working with sharp hand tools.
My craft journey started with spoon carving as a form of therapy to help see light in a deep pit of depression and anxiety, it has now lead me to become a spoon carving tutor London Green Wood, making new makers as well as making spoons myself. In our classes I and our other tutors share the calming process of making alongside, at a time where perhaps we’ve never needed to see the power of what we can do with our hands more.
I am thankful that green wood working has never been as accessible as it is today! With wonderful resources, courses and inspirational and generous makers out there, there has never been a better time to explore what you’re capable of within craft. ”
With this film project, we set out to explore the connection between mental health, craft and healing. We were honoured and lucky to meet Sam, who welcomed us into his space and kindly shared his story. We were both touched by Sam’s openness about his mental health journey. While Sam also gave us a true insight into the power of woodwork and craft, taking a moment to sit and focus to create something tangible and meaningful.
Due to large scale building works at Abney Park Cemetery we are moving our workshop to Hackney City Farm.
From April 2021, London Green Wood is open again to coop members, community groups and courses. LGW works exclusively outside and aims to provide a covid safe workspace for those who feel comfortable to attend.
Our monthly volunteering sessions are on hold for the time being. There will also be no public access in the near future, although we still welcome visitors by prior arrangement. If you’d like to come in and see what we do please contact us in advance.
We do not require anyone to wear masks, as we are able to maintain social distancing, but feel free to wear one if it makes you feel safer.
If you need to use public transport to access the workshop wear a face mask, as required by government guidance.
What we ask of you at the workshop:
Wash your hands upon arrival. Please also wash hands before eating, as usual.
Please bring your own resuable cup for tea and coffee breaks.
Cleaning all tools after use and if passing to another person (anti viral wipes are provided). Wash hands before cleaning tools.
Maintain a 2m distance between yourself and others.
Bring your own PPE is needed (gloves for moving timber, fingerless gloves, masks and googles). Those wanting to use the linisher must bring their own PPE, this is not a excuse not to wear PPE where it is needed. This mainly applies to members rather than course participants.
Anyone who has used the workshop who subsequently tests positive for Covid-19 is requested to inform London Green Wood.
Provide an outdoor handwashing station (soap and water) within the workshop, alcohol gel and anti-viral wipes.
Limit the max. no. of people in the workshop, to allow for social distancing.
Remind everyone using the workshop of these measures.
Designate a keyholder each day to take responsibility for Health and Safety, including coronavirus control measures.
If advised that anyone who has been at the workshop has developed Covid-19, we will contact everyone who has been at the workshop at the same time as that person and advise them of test and trace guidance.
The workshop is now closed due to the Tier 4 lockdown. Courses have been rescheduled and membership has been suspended until we can open again.
We are giving away wood for carving at home at the workshop gate every Friday lunchtime throughout lockdown. This is limited to 2 pieces of wood per person. The last person please recycle the box and the sign, or chuck it over the gate for use next week.
Throughout the first and second national lockdowns we have supplied free wood for those who are carving at home, to help keep us all safe and sane. This is a completely free offering, and a small team of volunteers makes this possible every week.
Some people in our network have asked to make a donation in return for this weekly wood supply, and so we have set up this donations page, enabling those who can and would like to, to do so. We are a non-profit organisation, any donations will go towards general upkeep of the workshop.
We’d love to see what you’re doing, please share your creations with us, Instagram @londongreenwood
We are currently taking bookings for courses March-June 2021, more information, and we are available for private course bookings and outdoor kids birthday parties once we are back to Tier 3 restrictions.
The rampant consumerism of Black Friday is at odds with the values of London Green Wood. However buying a gift of a day making together and learning new skills, is totally in keeping with our ethos. So we invite you to celebrate Buy Nothing Day (the antidote to Black Friday) by buying nothing and instead making something with your hands(or making a plan to make something with us).