Today was the final day of Jarrod's Knife Skills and Decoration class. We began the day with the students continuing with chopsticks, butter spreaders and decorating planed boards to let them get back into the groove of making. The students have been taught knife skills, so it was onto a couple of different forms of decoration: kolrossing and painting.
It was great to see the students filter in and get down to work, chatting with their neighbours or just carving on their own. The atmosphere was very relaxed. I think a big part of that was due to the way Jarrod planned the workshop. With the focus on process, instead of a particular finished product, the students weren't frantic to get their work done. In my workshops where I teach axe and knife skills I try to emphasise that the focus in on skill building. That said, it's skill building through the medium of carving a cooking spatula. And folks get locked into the idea of finishing that spatula, sometimes at the expense of developing skills. Which is absolutely fine if people are just interested taking the class to try carving.
Decorating with the knife so far involved using the tip of the blade to actually remove material. Kolrossing is slightly different. The knife tip is used to scratch a line in the wood which is filled with some sort of fine powder. Originally soot was used, but these days we tend to use coffee grinds.
Jarrod showed the students how he mixes milk paint and oil paint. The students were then handed brushes at were able to paint the chopsticks and butter spreaders they had made. Not everyone wanted to paint all their work, so some of the students went back to working on making chopsticks and butter spreaders, periodically coming to Jarrod or myself for advice on certain techniques or particular problems they were having.
That was how the rest of the day went, students painting, carving and decorating. In a very relaxed manner. With about an hour to go, Jarrod gathered the students around and we talked about what we learned, and what they would like to have had covered in the class. Several folks wanted to know more about sharpening. So, with an hour to go, Jarrod grabbed some of North House's sharpening stones and went through the basics of sharpening sloyd knives and a little about sharpening axes.
Every evening from 7-9pm there has been open shop carving. Quite a few students and instructors who will be involved in the second round of classes have arrived, so this evenings' open shop will likely have a few more folks in attendance. Tomorrow is a day of talks, demonstrations and open carving sessions, so that will be fun to hang out with folks.