For the last five years, Greg and colleagues have been demonstrating Green Woodworking skills and techniques at the WA Wood Show, including Green Wood Spoon Carving, the use of the Shaving Horse, Stool Making, and the use of the Double Spring Pole Lathe. In this 6th year of Green Woodworking demonstrations at the WA Wood Show, Greg and his colleagues will be demonstrating for the first time two new skills at various times: Carving Kuksas and Making Shrink Pots. This will be in addition to our normal free woodworking activity for kids and adults.
The Kuksa is a traditional wooden drinking vessel from the Sami people of northern Scandinavia. There are various styles, but they are traditionally made from Birch Burl, and sometimes have reindeer horn inlay.
The Kuksa is making a come-back in the green woodworking communities of North America and Western Europe – and interest is growing here in Australia.
Over the last 9 months, Greg Miller has been teaching Kuksa Carving here in Perth, using green timbers available locally, including Jacaranda. The workshops have been held at the Heritage Woodcraft Centre – home of The Joy of Wood.
Using axes and Sloyd knives, hook knives and gouges, the Kuksa is crafted from the blank while the wood is green and soft, after it has been split from the log. Greg says it is rather like spoon carving – but with a big bowl and a tiny handle! Using a Kuksa has become a very trendy way to drink your coffee or your wine!
The Passion of DIY – Green woodworking and old hand tools
When he sees a city block being cleared for a new house, he cringes at the wood going to waste. He lives and breathes wood, his tools are more precious than jewels, and he’s leading a long forgotten craft called Green Wood-Working. Around the world, Do-It-Yourself is huge. There’s a “maker movement” where people build business around what they’ve made, from cakes, jewellery, self built computer components, to furniture. Greg Miller says it is about communication and community. His first job was youth work, and even now he is passionate about young people. But the smell of wood had already tainted his blood. His great grandfather was a partner in the coach building firm Miller and Cleary in the early 1900s, and his dad was a carpenter in demand from organists around Australia. His dad built the Jarrah facade for the organ at the Perth Concert Hall. At the time, Greg thought his dad was an “old fuddy-duddy” because he used real wood and old fashioned tools. Greg’s choice of tools were nail guns, power drills, and melamine. But as each birthday rolled around, Greg began to see the light. Now, he breathes wood, feels wood, and caresses his old fashioned tools with pride. “Wood is a gift.. from the trees,” he says. “You can hear the wood responding to the tools. You smell it. It’s a sensual thing, you establish a relationship with the wood and the tools”. Left: A folding draw knife from a US Serviceman’s toolchest from the second world war, and a modern version of a Swedish Carving Axe. He has this passion for his tools, and says unlike machine tools, you can have a conversation with someone while you’re using traditional hand tools. Some of his favourite tools are a drawknife – the oldest one known is in a museum and was found in an old viking tool chest about 1100 years ago. Another favourite is a shaving horse, which you sit on, the concept dates back to 100 thousand years ago. A few years ago he went to the US for two months to study wood, and said it was life changing because he learned about green woodworking.
Green woodworking is a centuries-old method of wood craft, which virtually disappeared with the 20th Century phenomena of kiln dried wood and glue. But now there’s a massive movement in the US and Europe where people are going back to green wood-working. Greg receives invites from around Australia to come and teach people the art “It is an ancient tradition. Impoverished people on the land had to make everyday functional items out of greenwood. They couldn’t kiln fire it and they didn’t have the time to wait years for the wood to dry out. With Green Wood-working, you can even use your garden prunings,” he said.
Two Great Shows For the Price of One:
WA Craftshow and WA Woodshow
Admission tickets at the show entrance
Parking – Charged by the RAS
Come by train – stopping at the showgrounds station