Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The people inside The Book of Forgotten Crafts part 2...

I'm writing a series of blog posts about The Book of Forgotten Crafts because when I bought the book recently, I realised that I knew several of the craftspeople featured inside and either had some items made by them or had been on one of their courses. Part 1 of my little series was about local oak swill basket maker, Owen Jones and can be found here.

Part 2 is all about bowl maker Robin Wood. Here are some of Robin's pages in the book...
Bowl maker

Robin Wood isn't your run-of-the-mill bowl maker... he turns wooden bowls on a lathe but it's a foot-powered pole lathe rather than an electric one. I've had a quick go on a pole lathe in the past and can say from experience that it's good exercise... Robin must have a very powerful thigh muscle from all his bowl turning!

If you've never seen anyone turning wood using a pole lathe, check out this video of Robin making a bowl...

We're lucky enough to own some of Robin's beautiful handmade wooden bowls and plates...
Wooden bowls and plates 2

We've had them for several years now and they're in use most days. In fact, I had to leave a note out for Ade this morning, asking him to use a different plate for breakfast so that I had the chance to photograph all four bowls and plates when they were clean!

You can see the marks made by Robin's carving tools on the finished items...
Wooden bowls 2

I think it's amazing that he gets such a lovely finish just by using his carving tools and an axe... no sandpaper to speak of!

Each item is finished with a 'W' makers mark carved into the back...
Underside of wooden bowl

Robin has written an excellent book all about the history of the wooden bowl, called 'The Wooden Bowl'...
The Wooden Bowl book

The introduction says: 'In Medieval times people had very few possessions but almost everyone owned the clothes they stood up in, a knife, a spoon and a wooden bowl.' Many of Robin's designs are based on historical bowl-shapes (ours are based on the design of bowls found in the wreck of the Mary Rose) so it's really interesting to see photographs of wooden bowls through the ages.

The book also highlights artwork featuring people using wooden bowls, including several scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry and the book concludes with a look at the last bowl turners and Robin's work today. There's lots of detail about the processes Robin uses at the back of the book. Its a very interesting read!

As well as turning bowls, Robin carves spoons (and runs spoon carving courses). You can see a gallery of Robin's spoons here. People who know me well will already know that I have a bit of a 'thing' for spoons and I'd really like one (or several) of Robin's... they're stunning! Mmm... spoons! :)

If you'd like to find out more about Robin and/or the bowls and spoons he makes, he has a website, as well as a gallery of his bowls (which are for sale - I'm sure you won't be able to resist buying one!) and a fantastic blog that is about all kinds of traditional crafts, because Robin has a keen interest in them all and is the chairman of the Heritage Crafts Association.

Keep an eye out for part 3 of 'the people inside The Book of Forgotten Crafts'... it's a woolly one! :D


  1. Lovely things! How come liquid doesn't seep into the wood (or do you end up with missing soup?) xx

  2. Hmm... don't know really, it just seems to work! The bowl does get wet but not so much that you feel as though it's stealing your soup! :) x