PreTown Workshops

What Is Pretown?

Before Spoontown begins, we are offering ‘Pretown’ – a selection of highly skilled tutors offering nine incredible two and half-day workshops.

Pretown runs from Tuesday 23rd, to Thursday 25th July 2024

Each class will have a maximum of between 4 and 8 students each.

Covering a wide range of skills for beginners, intermediate and advanced. With varied topics such as carving, adze making and bowl turning.

Courses start from £210 including camping for the duration, lunch and some materials.

In the evenings, we will have a campfire and plenty of opportunities to meet everyone. A food van and bar will be available.

Pretown tickets will be separate from Spoontown tickets.

However, you can purchase ‘Combo’ PreTown/Spoontown tickets which include a £25 discount. 

Pretown Timetable

Monday 22nd July 2024

Gates Open 3pm: 8pm

Registration: Collect Your Wristband

Pitch up: Tent or Campervan

Induction: 8pm – 8.30pm

Tuesday 23rd July 2024

Morning Workshop Session: 9am – 12pm

Afternoon Workshop Session: 2pm – 5pm

Wednesday 24th July 2024

Morning Workshop Session: 9am – 12pm

Afternoon Workshop Session = 2pm – 5pm

Thursday 25th July 2024

Final Workshop Session: 9am – 12pm

Finish, Chill Out and Carve: 12pm – 3pm

Main Spoontown Event Starts: 3pm

Make Your Own Greenwood Tool Trug!

Aimee Irving-Bell

Cart all your greenwood tools around in style with this hard-wearing tough handstitched veg tan leather tool trug as well as leaving with all the leather craft skills you need to master the art. Aimee is a qualified teacher and experienced leather worker and with her business partner Pete will be there to guide you through the project, with 2 teachers for a maximum of 6 students

Learn many techniques of traditional leather craft including: Cutting techniques, Marking and punching stich holes, Traditional saddlers stitch, Installing traditional British brass saddlers rivers, Stamping leather, Cutting straps, Setting snaps or adding Sam Browne studs, Stitching handles, Skiving leather, Bevelling and burnishing.

Please note that £90 material cost will be payable at the start of the event.

All materials are of the highest grade and sustainable sourced mainly from the UK which includes all our brass rivets, and British tanned hides. We only use the best Italian or British veg tan guaranteed sustainable.

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Bowl turning

Amy Leake
My green woodworking adventures were ignited 12 years ago thanks to my woodburner. As a child I loved whittling things in the garden with my penknife and had a great little treadle jigsaw on which I turned out gifts for my family. With a lack of woodculture around me these were shelved for a while, but I’d always been interested in finding out about practical uses for the plants and trees I saw around me.

When I got a woodburner for my home I began to gather firewood and started to wonder about the different qualities of the tree species. Working with hand tools is a great way to learn about the grain, strength and characteristics in the wood and the continuing fascination is this variation and the endless subtle design variations possible. What continues to pull me in is the love of using and enjoying handmade items in my everyday life, the simple pleasures of using a hand thrown mug, a turned wooden bowl and a handmade wooden spoon for my breakfast every morning makes my heart sing.

These objects transmit the energy and care the maker put into them, and I feel a connection to the people who made them.

You will need a reasonable level of fitness for this, bowl turning is akin to walking uphill and you will be on your feet most of the time. All wood and tools provided.

The wood I use is sustainably sourced from local tree surgeons, or coppiced woodland, and is worked with hand tools. My spoons aren’t sanded, instead they are finished with the skilled use of super sharp knives which leave a smooth yet faceted surface showing the final cuts. My bowls are made on a pole lathe with the tool marks present such as our ancestors would have known.

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What Is In A Spoon?

Deborah Schneebeli Morrell
Having originally trained in fine art Deborah became addicted to spoon carving ( she’s a spoon a day type!) after a long career as an artist/teacher and a writer of craft books.

She is known for investigating and carving a large variety of different wood species and has even realised that a lovely piece of wood can do more than anything to cheer you up! She has a lifelong interest in the value and meaning of making and its therapeutic and transformational aspects.

Deborah will be teaching how to make a pocket spoon, a scoop and a spatula….paying particular attention to the crank and the different planes whist axing the blank which gives the character to the spoon

We will investigate the properties of different species of wood and will have the opportunity to carve some rare examples of fruit woods and ornamental species.

Her practice stresses the importance of drawing (without a template) as a way of developing imagination and enhancing perception.

Suitable for confident beginners and intermediate carvers.

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Ellie Morgan
Lockdown saw me saying goodbye to a 20 year career in social housing and becoming a full time basketmaker and green wood worker – having been a part-timer for many years. Ive always been a maker, originally mostly with textiles, but the possibilities of wood and willow – the most natural of materials, really hit the spot. And now I run my own business teaching, making to commission, supplying Petersham Nurseries and other shops as well as my market stall with my baskets and spoons. I am the Trade advisor to the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, as well as being a Yeoman basketmaker, member of the Basketmakers Association and APTGW.

The basket I will be teacing at Spoontown will be a version of my popular back pack, especially designed for both beginners and people with some basketmaking experience.

Day one will be creating the base and structure of the basket and starting the side weave. Day two will see us finish the weaving, creating a border, handle, and adding straps – you’ll also carve a couple of toggles.

All materials and tools will be supplied. Basketmaking can be hard on the hands, so if you have a loss of strength in your hands this might not be the craft for you.

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Straight Spoons In 7 Steps

Jan Harm

I am a Dutch ‘Greenwood- pioneer’ with more than 30 years of experience as a maker and teacher, both at home and abroad.

I have a background as a product designer and teacher, including at TU Delft (Industrial Design) and the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. In the more distant past, I was trained as an arts/crafts teacher. I combine practice with knowledge, experience and sometimes theory. I love to teach.

I would like to teach a tangential take on straight spoons (carving inward from the barkside) for beginners and more advanced carvers in seven simple, reproduceable steps, suitable for finding ones own’s shapes and forms in spooncarving.


This will facilitate your understanding of carving in 3 dimensions, kicking directly into the world of spooncarving without any need for templates or overdoing pencil drawing on your billet. We will cover all knife- and axe techniques involved.

On day two we will continue with a similar approach to carving minimugs ‘the slöjd way’, with a minimum of tools in a woodland- setting. The last bit of the course I will show you an approach for crooked spoons, and we will look into scoops.”

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Designing a spoon

Lee John Phillips
Join illustrator and maker Lee John Phillips for an intensive, two and a half day, multidisciplinary workshop at Spoontown ’24.

Lee is an ex teacher of art and design and you will start the course by considering approaches to utensil design. Firstly, Lee will introduce you to his methodology of drawing and generating ideas on paper before you step up to the axe block.

The second element of the course will cover the fundamentals of chip carving. Lee’s spoons are always highly decorated and his template shapes have been conceived to offer a large surface to chip carve. You will learn the basic building blocks of the craft before being encouraged to compose your own, detailed patterns to transfer onto a spoon.


The final part of the course will involve pulling all of these individual elements together. You will discuss the characteristics of Lee’s pocket spoons and develop a similar design on paper that you will transfer to a billet.

You will explore Lee’s techniques for axing out small shapes with excessive cranks and understand the important role that your axe block plays in the process. Lee will discuss the specific cuts and braces he uses for various aspects of the spoon before you transfer the chipped pattern and inlay with Lee’s signature iridescent inks.

The multidisciplinary aspect of this course will ensure that skills learned are as transferrable as possible to your own practice. Lee understands the importance of originality in the craft and doesn’t just want this to be a chance to simply copy another maker’s work. He considers it an opportunity to experience the entire process of a full-time creative and use it as a vehicle to evaluate and improve your own carving.

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Earth Oven

Martin Hazel
Spend a few days with Martin Hazell building an Earth Oven. Martin (aka mr the creature), is an almost legendary spoon carver, basket maker and experimental archaeologist who has been building earth ovens for nearly 20 years. Drawing on skills which combine basketry, pottery and mud pie technology, we will create a fully functional oven for bread, pizzas and other tasty things! Alongside this fun project the group will also be carving at least one dough trough, using Martin’s extensive collection of adzes.
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Adze Making

Nic Westerman
Nic has specialized in forging green woodworking tools for 11 years, he has taught toolmaking in the UK, the States and Europe. He had a fantastic time at Spowntown last year and is excited to be coming to Pretown this year as well.

For Pretown Nic will be teaching Adze making- you will be forging an Adze from scratch once the initial shaping is completed you will then carve a handle to fit our head, the all-important final edge to handle alignment will be tweaked when the final bevel form is ground after you have completed heat treatment of the steel.

The image shows adzes nearing completion on a previous course, and the billet of steel and ash you will be starting from. No forging experience is necessary, but if you want to wield a sledgehammer the option is there and encouraged, if not we will provide a striker ( either me or my son) when a bit more force is needed. If you can swing an axe accurately this will translate easily to a hand hammer and you will be fine.
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Kuksa Carving

Paul Adamson
Paul has been carving spoons for 20 years and has worked with or played amongst trees for many more.
Bringing home interesting pieces of wood and wondering what to do with them led to visiting woodland craft events and then a bushcraft course where a huge passion for learning about the outdoors developed. Paul enjoys carving, turning and weaving all types of crafts as well as a good walk.

Known as Kuksa in Finnish, Kasa in Swedish, or Guksi by the Sami people, these cups are a joy to make and use. From tree to finished drinking cup you will be shown and practice every stage of the carving process. Holding devices will be provided as well as all the tools and equipment needed, and you will be surprised at what you can achieve in a day. You will go away from the course with items you have made, the skills to share with others, and lots of inspiration to take things further.

Having plenty of time to look into Kuksa’s we can really dive into the form and styles of these drinking vessels as well as discuss other items you can make using the same tools and methods. Learning Kuksa carving leads straight into other types of bowl carving and the method I have developed will really speed things up for you and take the strain out of the process and lead to better carvings.
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