Wood carving in hand

Making Winter retreat

Last weekend I headed up to Cambridgeshire with Annie for the Making Winter Retreat. Two days of cosiness, craft, good food and car banter. I finally met fellow nature lover Kriss in person too! My camera spent most of the weekend in my bag, so I only took a few photos. But I want to share those I did take with you.

Now before I show you what we did on Saturday and Sunday, I want to tell you about Friday night. Our B&B had electronic twin beds — hours of fun! We spent most of the evening bed racing and folding ourselves into undignified positions. Hilarious. I’m still laughing about it a week later.

Old misty window
Early start
Cosy lit barn
Cosy barn

Saturday morning, six of us headed to Emma’s home for a silver clay workshop. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I did one of her workshops back in June. I became a bit enamoured with these waxflowers. Little white flowers with leaves that smell like lemon thyme. Another plant to add to the garden list; going to need a bigger garden soon.

Flowers in kilner jar
Sprig of flowers
More waxflowers

This is the mould I used for my pendant, it’s a ring of tiny alpine leaves. I tried to make my own but was having trouble forming them into a circle (thanks sausage fingers), so in the end I used this ready made mould instead.

Leaf mouldSilver clay mould

Carved wooden house

Later that day, Edel Hopkins showed us to how make handbound books covered in marbled paper made in Cambridge. Green is my favourite colour so I was happy to have green paper in front of me 🙂

Bookbinding press
Bookbinding workshop
Bookbinding group at table
Bookbinding workshop

Sunday morning started with breakfast at our B&B and having my chair stolen by this fluffball.

Cat laying on chair

Alistair from Woodlanders showed us how to carve wooden spoons. I loved this workshop! He gave us a demonstration and talked about safety before letting us loose with hatchets and carving knives. Brave man.

Wood carving in hand
Alistair spoon carving
Carved wooden spoon
Beginnings of my spoon
Rustic carved spoons
Spoons by Annie, Kriss and me

After two hours I had a spoon that actually looked spoon shaped; mines the one at the front. I was quite surprised how much strength you need in your hands for carving.

Figures in the sun
Nature walk

Seed pods in the sun

Closeup of moss
Moss and lichen

The last workshop of the weekend was willow weaving with Val Curwen. We made willow lanterns with a terracotta saucer for the base. Mine was a bit wonky but not bad for a first attempt. I had good fun making it too.

Willow weaving
Willow weaving
Seed packets in enamel dish
Sweetpea seeds

Lastly, here’s my handiwork.

Book, lantern and spoon

You’ll notice I’ve done a bit of work smoothing my spoon — with the wood knife I bought on the day and some sandpaper. Not bad for a weekends work 🙂 Learning new crafts is so rewarding. You never know if you’ll be any good at them or not. Then you come away having created something you didn’t know you were capable of. Magic.

Categories Craft

9 comments on “Making Winter retreat

  1. Well done all of your finished craft projects look really good, they look as though you are a professional, they really don’t look like a first attempt ?

    • Hehe, thanks Tina. The top part of the lantern is on a bit of a wonk, but as Scot always reminds me, it’s handmade 🙂

  2. This sounds ace Gemma and what you’ve come home with look fab!

    • Thanks Cerys! I’m pleased with my wares. As soon as I find some wood I’ll be working on more spoons…

  3. Heidi Dawson

    Gemma – wonderful photos and a lovely reminder of what a truly wonderful weekend we all had. Need to get the sandpaper to my spoon if it ends up looking that good! ReaLlysfaen enjoyed our time spent with you guys and who knows there maybe a chance in the future that we get to share some more potatoes #nomnomnom Heidi xx

    • I was quite surprised by how much of a difference a bit of sandpaper made. It still has a few quirks but at least they are smooth ones. Great to meet you at the retreat 🙂 Hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon, I’m going to keep my eye on Emma’s other making retreats. And yes to more potato!!

  4. Heidi Dawson

    Don’t know where ‘ReaLlysfaen’ came from ? Hx

  5. Ah it was so much fun! And you are spot on about learning new crafts.
    I am in awe of that spoon – amazing sanded!
    Thanks for the bed races and being such a good travel buddy (snacks included!)

    • The bed races were one of my favourite parts of the weekend haha! There’s no way that spoon will fit in my mouth so I’m going to have it as a decorative item. I’ll bake cinnamon buns next time…

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