2022 Annual Report

This is what we did…

About London Green Wood
London Green Wood (LGW) is a cooperatively-run workshop. We teach green woodwork using traditional techniques, hand tools and locally grown wood straight from the log. We have been creating opportunities to learn heritage and ‘rural’ crafts in Hackney since 2011. We are currently based at Hackney City Farm.

By creating a space for people to work creatively alongside others, we foster friendships and community connections. By teaching people new skills, we create resilience. By working outdoors in nature, we provide a space for reflection and therapeutic activity.

Our aims:

  • 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.

Our members

At the end of 2022 we had 53 members (8% growth on 2021). Currently, 28% of our membership pay unwaged or low income rates, 34% of these are female.

This year there was a focus on developing skills within our membership, on building the community at the workshop and ensuring that when members join the coop they feel confident to come back and use the space. All this activity was led and organised by members on a voluntary basis.

  • Spoon Club. Spearheaded by Sam and Mat, we opened on Thursday evenings over the summer for a coop members Spoon Club. This was an amazing additional offering for our members. Spoon Club was incredibly successful in getting new members and female members in particular back to use the workshop regularly.
  • Skill shares. Thanks to Spencers’ organisation, we had 6 coop skill shares. Apart from a demonstration by Monocoat oil, these were all led by members for members.  These sessions have not only increased the skills of our members, they have been a tool to get members who hardly ever use the workshop back into the space.

May – Dan:  wooden knife sheaths (11 members joined)
June – Spencer: Fan birds (10 members joined)
July – Jo: clothes peg from a hazel branch (5 members joined)
August – Rubio Monocoat: paints & oils (6 members joined)
October – Mat: Colour & decoration (5 members joined)
November – Jo: Leatherwork (4 members joined)

  • Museum of the Home. Sharon also arranged a visit to the Museum of the Home library and archive, for members to see their collection of chairs and tools. Following this visit the Museum have enquired about LGW getting involved in their School programme.
  • Coop work days and socials. There have been numerous informal volunteer days in the workshop where coop members have built and fixed equipment and made other improvements to the workshop. Our biggest one was in November with 12 coop members coming in for a big clear up day, followed by a feast and a fire (and even more people joining in the evening). We also had evening celebrations and BBQs in June and August to get out membership together. At the August event we said goodbye to Ken, who had been Deputy Manager at the Farm for many years and was instrumental in getting us into this space.

Other projects

  • Asylum Seeker support group

We continued our partnership with the Red Cross to offer regular sessions to the Men’s Support group from the Hackney Centre. We have worked with them since 2019. Discussions about doing the same with the Womens’ group at ongoing. As well as monthly sessions, Sharon helped the group host an event the Hackney Centre for Refugee Week, the group were able to show what they had learnt to staff and other users at the centre. Our participation at this event was funded by LGW.

Participants in this group are offered a free space on our Induction to the Workshop course and invited to join the coop at zero cost.

  • Hackney Ark

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 budget 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. The feedback was amazing, some of them have already asked about joining the coop when they turn 18. We would love to do more of this, but need to find more funding or sponsorship for it.

  • Shoreditch Design Triangle

We participated in Shoreditch Design Triangle (part of London Design Festival) for the first time. Our workshop was on the SDT map. Members demonstrated turning and carving outside the SCP shop in Shoreditch, at Spitalfields Market and at our own workshop.

  • Events

These have not returned to their pre-covid levels, and so far we haven’t had any paid invitations to events. But we did attend Rich Mix Goes Green and Nunhead Cemetery Open Day, where members demonstrated and sold their work.

  • Kids birthday parties

This was a new thing for us, we did two. This could be developed as a bookable option on our website.

  • Corporate groups

Not entirely a new thing, as we have done a couple of small ones before, but this grew in 2022. We hosted 3 company away days at the workshop, visited 1 in their offices in Shoreditch and through a new partnership with an events company went on 2 trips to a golf club in Watford. Our corporate days were evenly split between big tech and east London creatives and designers. Corporate group sessions don’t particularly contribute to our aims, but they do bring in income for LGW and provide group teaching opportunities, which is useful for developing more members as tutors.

  • The Shop

Graham built us an amazing shop inside the container to go alongside our online shop. So far 5 members are selling their work through the shop, and spoons are flying off the shelves.

Supporting other woodworkers and community projects

  1. Ben, member of LGW and former tutor, has incorporated Bristol Tree Craft CIC with support from LGW.
  2. We hired a lathe to Sussex based bowl turner Amy Leake for a demonstration at the Guildhall Yard, an event for the Worshipful Company of Turner.
  3. We lent the workshop and lathes to Tim Stevenson from Nunhead Cemetery and Helen Welch of London School of Furniture Making for two days on their Understanhttps://furnitureschool.co.uk/ding Wood course.
  4. We are donating our waste wood to Hackney based, Community Sauna CIC.

Campaigns and fundraisers we’ve supported

  1. Fundraiser for Rape Crisis (2 members participated)
  2. Makers auction for Ukraine DEC appeal (5 members participated)

Other exciting things members did

  1. Sam was a Toast New Maker, with work on display at their Carnaby Street shop, demonstrations in their shops and vessels available to buy on through their webshop. He has also featured in lots of flashy magazines.
  2. Cyriaque exhibited at the New Craftsman.
  3. Spencer continues to make buttons and handles for Bethany Williams, which were exhibited in the Design Museum. He also modelled in their advertising campaign, shot at the LGW workshop!

Courses
818 people joined 128 courses in 2022. Added to our other activity above, we taught green woodwork to around 900 people.

People attending our courses at 46% female, 13% from ethnic minorities, 7% low income rates. 14% had been on a LGW course before. 95% of course reviews were 5*!

See the full courses report.

Things we are doing well with our courses

  • People feel part of this community of makers.
  • People know what they can do next (tools to buy, other courses and joining the coop).
  • People have a lovely day, even if it’s difficult or frustrating at times, they leave feeling satisfied. This is especially important in our work rehabilitating office workers, they join our courses on their day off they need to feel looked after and inspired.
  • We have a pool of 8 regular tutors and a couple of extras who do occasional sessions, so mainly we are able to cover for each other when it’s needed.

Accounts

Here’s our financial report. This is a draft, we are working with our accountant on the final accounts.

Black Friday

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.

BOOK HERE INSTEAD.

Woodworking with Hackney Ark

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.

Shamsun Ali, Targeted Health Outreach Worker


London Design Festival

Shoreditch Design Triangle 2022

We’ve been tidying up the workshop, because this year we are part of Shoreditch Design Triangle.

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:

We also have some workshops on during the event:

Other highlights include: SCP present One Tree, a project which repurposes a dying ash tree, Toast’s darning pop-up, the Good Design Awards, discussions on design, craft and climate change, and a broom.


2021 Annual report

Here’s what happened in 2021

” We had a wonderful day, and came away wanting more, so already planning our next session. Thanks so much! “

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.

Our aims:

  • 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.

Our activities:

  • 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.
  • We are active members of several networks: the Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Green Woodworkers, Social Enterprise UK and the Open Workshop Network.
  • A 2021 business analysis by the University of Brighton recognised that we provide a ‘unique opportunity’ to learn heritage crafts in London.

” I had an amazing experience with London Green Wood. I can’t recommend this course enough, everyone was so friendly and helpful. Thank you 🙂 “

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.

” Great course. Lovely location. Very sensible and attentive instruction just when needed, but very hands on without too much standing around. “

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).

We created handout resources on safe knife grips and axe work, along with session plans for our courses, all available on our website.

” Thanks to the guys at Green Wood London for the excellent spoon carving course. I loved your teaching style, and especially enjoyed the axe work, superb. Many thanks, will be back in future. “

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.

” Everyone at LGW was super friendly and the day was lovely. The location at Hackney City Farm was beautiful, well covered (it was raining all morning) and we were given just the right amount of help vs time / space to go off and get on with making. “

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.

” The generosity from the board members in particular to share their knowledge is really humbling and creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Having this space has been really impactive and makes my life in London a lot better! “

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.

” I’ve learnt a lot, made friends and enjoy contributing to the Co-Op.

LGW makes me feel generally, a lot better; being in the open air and focussed on a creative activity. “

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.
  • Rush seat weaving with guest tutor Rachel South, 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, Cyriak Lefeve, 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.
  • Grant funding 20%.

” I just loved this workshop with London Green Wood! Super interesting, very well organised, and very kind and relaxing. My main reaction after the workshop was that I needed to find a way to spend more time woodcarving and that London Green Wood was the perfect place to do it! ”

Support for Ukraine

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.

For auction:

  • Kolrosed eating spoon in sycamore with lucky symbols by London Green Wood member Graham O’Brien (@Lucky Spoons). This 18cm spoon is kolrosed using cinnamon and finished with food safe linseed oil. £20 minimum bid.
  • Mini pickle ladle in mulberry by Jo Clarke (London Green Wood mug not included). Finished with hemp seed oil. £25 minimum bid.
  • Bowl and spoon set by Mike Taylor. Cherry handled bowl, and elder spoon, both approx. 18cm long, finished with food safe linseed oil. £30 minimum bid.
  • Dove fan bird in willow by Spencer Martin. £25 minimum bid.

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.

Rush seating with Rachael South

A coop members “new craft skill” course

Text: Esther Robinson
Photos: Esther Robinson, Slow Maker, Spencer Martin

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. 

For more information on Rachael’s work: http://rachaelsouth.com/

Or on Instagram: @rachael_south

Greenwood stool & Rush seating steps by steps with Esther:

Text: Esther Robinson
Photos: Esther Robinson, Slow Maker, Spencer Martin

Mental Health Awareness month

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.

Daisy Gaston and Joyce Nicholls

Re-opening April 2021, at our new venue

We are moving to Hackney City Farm!

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.

All those visiting the workshop are required to sign in and leave a telephone no. for contact tracing purposes (for more information on how we will use this data, see our Privacy Policy).

What we ask of you before coming to the workshop:

  • If you have symptoms of Covid-19 or have been exposed to someone who has tested postitive, stay home (how to request a test and what to do if you have symptoms).
  • 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.

We will:

  • 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.
  • Send anyone home who becomes unwell at the workshop and advise them to follow the stay at home guidance.
  • 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.

Our risk assessments are available for other organisations and people to use and edit for non-commercial purposes only (this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License).

Tier 4 lockdown

Free wood for carving at home, every Friday

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.

See our tips for staying safe carving at home and further links to tools and resources.

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.