The British Crafts Blog

Don’t miss Mastercrafts with Monty Don, first episode tonight, BBC2, 9pm

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Guy Mallinson, master green woodworker, talks about his contribution to the Mastercrafts TV series. Don’t miss him in the opening episode this Friday, BBC2, 9pm

Posted in Heritage Crafts, Mastercrafts, Mentors, Woodcraft by britishcrafts on February 8, 2010

I run courses in green woodwork, art and craft in a woodland workshop in West Dorset.  The courses are designed for all levels of ability and our guests come from all over to enjoy escaping to a beautiful and peaceful environment in which to enjoy the pleasures of hand-making and craftsmanship.  

The woodland workshop consists of a number of parachute shelters, tipis and canvas tents with log walls and huge open fire pits – it is warm and cosy in the winter and cool and shaded in the summer.  We work all year round in the woods using ancient techniques that require no electricity, glue or chemicals.

It seems like just yesterday that the film crew and trainees left the woodland workshop, but the production company (Ricochet Productions) and the BBC have since been busy getting everything edited and ready for airing. The ‘wood’ episode will be the first in the series to be aired, at 9pm on Friday 12th Feb on BBC2.

It was a fantastic experience and a joy to spend six weeks with the trainees working our way through our courses and discussing the role of traditional craft in the 21st century. Tom, Charles and Sarah worked incredibly hard and we were all delighted with their final projects, as well as being a tad proud of them all! It was strange to go from telling guests that our courses are non-competitive to finding myself having to stand back and let the trainees get on with their final project without helping – as it WAS a competition!

We were delighted to have Mike Abbott here on the final day to judge the work of the trainees. Mike has been working in green wood for many years and wrote the books that helped me on my transition from cabinet-making to green woodwork. We could not have had a more respected green woodworker to decide the winner. I was also pleased not to have to pick between them at the end of six weeks working together!

Our neighbours at Forde Abbey were also incredibly helpful and we were able to spend some time in their woods to select suitable ash trees for felling for their final project – using horses of course. The winning chair (still top secret!) will be on view to the 50,000 members of the public that visit Forde Abbey this year. Quite an accolade for the winner.

Another bonus for me was during my research to get to know and correspond with Robin Wood who, as well as being being a fine and respected craftsman making bowls on a pole lathe amongst other green wood skills and writing books and teaching, also helps run the Heritage Crafts Association. This was founded a year ago and has recently been granted charitable status. With the Mastercrafts series and other public exposure for traditional crafts, I am sure the Association’s establishment has been very timely and will help further spread the word about the value of traditional crafts – be it for heritage, leisure, product, therapy or education.

I hope that you enjoy the series and, if you feel inspired, do sign up for one of our courses and see how you get on compared to the trainees! You can even make exactly the same chair as they did in their training on our ‘Make a chair from a tree’ masterclass course, or for the less ambitious try ‘Carving a wooden bowl’ or ‘Pole lathe turning’: they’re both very popular and great fun!  There are lots of other courses for all levels of experience.

We don’t want to spoil the surprise so we’re keeping tight-lipped about the goings-on in the woods but you can see a preview of the series here and read an interview with Monty Don on the BBC website here

We also felt very honoured to be asked to contribute to the fantastic new book being published by David & Charles to accompany the ‘Mastercrafts’ series, which will be launched on 12th February as well.

Guy is on twitter: @guymallinson
His blog
facebook: woodland workshop fan page
and website 
Find out more about the book and pre-order here.
Stonemason Andy Oldfield features in this book

The Mastercrafts book

Preview of some pics from the book

Posted in Book development, Mastercrafts, Mentors, Woodcraft by britishcrafts on January 13, 2010

The photographs in the Mastercrafts book are pretty inspiring – here are some from Guy Mallinson’s magical woodland workshop hidden away in a remote part of Dorset, where wigwam-like tents heated by open fires allow year-round outdoor working, protected from the worst of the weather; although I haven’t heard if he got snow-bound recently.  It’s possible to book courses with Guy, for all levels of ability.  To find out more, visit his website.