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Opening of the Sylva Teaching Barn

posted on January 22, 2019

Last Wednesday evening we opened the doors of our brand new Teaching Barn to promote the vision for the Sylva Wood School.

We enjoyed showing our trustees, funders, collaborators and friends from industry around our well-equipped teaching venue and explaining future planned developments for the Wood Centre.  Some of the creative businesses we host also opened up their workshops, highlighting the incredible community that has rapidly developed over the past three years – it was clear to see the potential for any students coming onto the site to learn from such a diverse range of experts.

Teaching Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre

Teaching Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre

The feedback from the evening was overwhelmingly positive.  It was wonderful to see the furniture industry well-represented by Dids Macdonald and Tony Smart of the Furniture Makers Company, designer-makers Richard Williams and Philip Koomen, as well as representatives of heavyweights such as William Hands and Ercol.  We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with the sector to teach and guide people into the industry.

Joseph Bray, Head of Wood School, shared his thoughts on the future of education in the wood sector focussing on the opportunities to deliver excellence in education and business enterprise.

“Schools have changed from woodwork to much broader D&T and over the past 10 years the decline in entries to GCSE has reduced by well over 50%  The emphasis of these courses has significantly moved away from making! Colleges offering vocational furniture training can almost be counted on one hand and University level craft programmes have declined significantly some closing workshops and some closing all together.  Often graduates are pushed out into the world with varying levels of support and guidance.

“An exception to the rule is our close neighbour Rycotewood in Oxford.  We hope to enhance our close relationship continuing to work closely with staff, students and graduates.

“The future can feel bleak, however we exist outside the formal education system and as a creative and flexible organisation we are able to offer a range of programmes that will plug some of the gaps.  We plan to build a schools programme for those unable to access making on the school curriculum. We will provide workshops and skills training to students who cannot access this at college or University and we will continue the excellent work already started in providing support for graduates within the community of creative enterprises that make up our site.”

Joseph is midway through an inspiring Churchill Fellowship, travelling to world-renowned institutions delivering furniture craft education in USA and Europe.  He is investigating how they continue to support students to learn craft skills in light of the challenges within the education sector and how students are supported on graduation.  This experience is especially helpful at this stage of the development of our Wood School. He is off to Europe in March and we look forward to hearing what he has learnt on his return.

We are currently delivering a programme of weekend courses using some excellent external tutors as we build up to the launch of a range courses in the summer and beyond – watch this space for some exciting opportunities.  Read more

Sylva Foundation is very grateful to the following funders for their support in constructing and furnishing the Teaching Barn: Aspen Trust, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Oxfordshire LEADER, People’s Postcode Lottery, Shanly Foundation.


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Artweeks at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on May 21, 2018
Artweeks 2018 montage

Artweeks 2018 montage

Now our first weekend is behind us, we’re looking forward to opening our doors to the Sylva Wood Centre again next weekend. We will be open from Saturday 26th to Monday 28th, from 1000 to 1700.

We hope to see you there!

 


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Greenwood DIY for women 5May2018

posted on March 2, 2018

Greenwood DIY for women

5th May 2018

9.00am to 5.00pm

Come and learn to make some shelves to your design, shape and size, which you could use for books, shoes, clothes, tools or much more besides in the company of women.

Greenwood DIY for women

Greenwood DIY for women

During the day, you will learn to use common hand tools such as drills, knives and saws to transform ash poles and larch boards into some shelves. You will learn the basic principles of green woodworking and leave with the skills to tackle more green woodwork projects at home.

The course is aimed at those who self-identify as a woman.

Suitable for beginners / no woodworking experience necessary!

Cost: £100 per person (materials included)

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutors: Amy Cox and Ffion Jones

 

book-now

Booking now closed

 


About the tutors

Amy and FFion crossed paths at the Cherry Wood project, where they did an apprenticeship in green woodworking and woodland management.

Amy now works as a coppice worker and crafter based in Gloucestershire. Her coppice products are sourced from Westonbirt arboretum, where she is an active member of the coppice restoration project. She also loves making baskets. www.amyrosecrafts.org.uk

Ffion is a green woodworker and builder based in the bristol area. She uses traditional hand tools and techniques to create beautiful and functional items.She cuts her own materials or uses local sawmills supplying British timber, and likes turning bowls.


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Farewell to Paul Sellers

posted on February 19, 2018

Last week we said farewell to Paul Sellers and the team at Rokesmith, who have built up an incredibly successful business over the last two years.

Paul Sellers and his son Joseph moved into a small unit at the Sylva Wood Centre two years ago. During their time with us they took on several new staff members, and the company expanded their online tutorials, published a book, and offered several woodworking classes at the centre. We were delighted to include a talk from Paul in our inaugural WoodWords event in 2016, while the company sponsored a number of plots in the Future Forest.

In a generous gesture, the team have made a short film to reflect upon their time with us at the Sylva Wood Centre, featuring interviews with a number of the craftspeople. We wish Paul and his team every success in their new larger unit, just a few miles away, and look forward to future collaborations.

 


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Green wood stool course 27Oct2018

posted on February 14, 2018

Following the sell-out success of this course last time, we are pleased to offer a new one-day course: learn how to make a green wood stool. Working with green wood using simple hand tools, by the end of the day you will make a ‘basic’ three-legged stool under the expert tuition of green woodworker Peter Wood.

Green stool making course at Sylva Wood Centre

Green stool making course at Sylva Wood Centre

Course date: 27th October 2018, 9.30am – 4.00pm

  • Learn about different tree species and understand why different woods are suitable for different tasks, how growth effects its use, and look at wood suitable for cleaving.
  • Learn how to cleave wood.
  • Learn basic axe work to rough shape the stool legs.
  • Use a shaving horse, drawknives and spokeshaves to shape three stool legs.
  • Shape a simple stool seat using planes, inshaves, travishers and spokeshaves.
  • There will also be a pole lathe for participants to ‘have a go’ at turning as time allows.

Cost: £125 per person

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Peter Wood, Founder of Greenwood Days www.greenwooddays.co.uk

book-now

book-now

Book your place

 


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Forestry Yard opens at Sylva Wood Centre

posted on January 29, 2018

Sylva Foundation is delighted to announce the opening of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre. The Forestry Yard will be occupied and run by Face North Forestry, a local and expanding forestry contracting company.

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre

The Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre, with Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry

The Sylva Wood Centre is a growing hub of wood-using businesses: currently 13 wood-based businesses operate from the site; from boat builders, to woodcarvers and fine furniture makers. The focus of the Sylva Wood Centre is to support the growth of wood-based businesses and in particular the use of home-grown timber. The addition of the Forestry Yard will help the Sylva Wood Centre to achieve this last goal, shortening the supply chain between woodland and end use.

Nick Keighley - Face North Forestry

Nick Keighley – Face North Forestry

Thanks to a Countryside Productivity Grant, Face North Forestry purchased a new mobile sawmill. This will allow the business to select timber to be milled, which may have previously been used for firewood, adding value and locking up carbon for the long term. This timber will be available for use by the businesses at the Sylva Wood Centre; in fact Face North Forestry are already collaborating with two of the businesses.

Meanwhile, the new forestry building was part-supported by a capital grant to Sylva Foundation from LEADER, whose funds are distributed by the Oxfordshire Leader Action Group (LAG) made up of representatives from local trusts, organisations and district councils. The LAG is chaired by South Oxfordshire district councillor Elizabeth Gillespie, who said:

“Our group visited the forestry yard and we were all impressed to see how the funds are supporting the local environment and small wood businesses based at the Sylva Wood Centre.”

Nick Keighley of Face North Forestry said:

“Moving into the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre will allow me to grow my business. I have always been frustrated by good quality timber not being used to its full potential, but local supply chains have been decimated over the last few decades with the closure of many small sawmills. The yard will allow me to add value to the timber I fell, while being based at the Sylva Wood Centre means there is a readymade customer base for my products”

Paul Orsi, Director for Forestry at Sylva Foundation said:

“The addition of the Forestry Yard at the Sylva Wood Centre is crucial to seeing more local timber being used by the businesses we support. The development of the Forestry Yard was supported by a LEADER grant which was vital to allow us to take this project forward”

More information: www.sylva.org.uk/wood


£1.55 million available to boost rural areas in the county

Grants of up to £100,000 are available to community groups, small businesses farmers and foresters for projects that support the rural economy.

The Oxfordshire LEADER fund aims to support a wide range of activities in the countryside such as assisting local small businesses, supporting local heritage and cultural events, attracting tourism and visitors increasing foresters and farmer’s productivity and helping to diversify services.

Contributions are available for capital costs such as building work, equipment and for projects located in the Oxfordshire LEADER area until September this year.

Oxfordshire LEADER is welcoming expressions of interest for support until September this year and all funds will be allocated by March 2019.  For further information on the programme and criteria for funding, visit the website http://www.oxfordshireleader.org.uk

If your project is eligible, you can contact Sophie, programme manager, on 01235 422245 or email Oxfordshire.leader@southandvale.gov.uk for further guidance.


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Growing Forests of Opportunity & Innovation

posted on November 20, 2017

A beautiful oak sculpture — one of 11 to be located across the UK — was unveiled at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire on 18th November to celebrate the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

Unveiling the Charter Pole at Sylva Wood Centre

Unveiling the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

2017 has been a momentous year for our trees with the launch of a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People on 6th November. Launched to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, it comes at a time when our trees and woodlands are threatened by pests and land-use change, while society is ever more aware of how important trees are to life on Earth.

Oxfordshire-based environmental charity Sylva Foundation has been active at the heart of the national campaign leading up to the launch of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. It helped gather stories from hundreds of woodland owners across the country, and hosted the creation of a collection of sculptures to commemorate the moment. At the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire, one of its resident craftspeople, sculptor Simon Clements, was commissioned by the Woodland Trust to create 11 ‘Charter Poles’.

Each sculpture or ‘Charter Pole’ features one of the 10 Charter principles, and will be unveiled in locations across the UK, from Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff, to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool. The 11th and ‘Champion’ pole was at the centre of the launch celebrations held at Lincoln Castle on 6th November.

On Saturday 18th November one of the Charter Poles was unveiled at the Sylva Wood Centre. The pole represents Growing Forests of Opportunity & Innovation, which is fitting given the work undertaken by Sylva Foundation and its hosted craftspeople. It was made from the giant stem of an oak tree donated by the Crown Estates and supplied via Grown in Britain. Its design depicts sawn timber boards with sticks placed between them, in the way that a freshly-sawn trunk is processed to allow the boards to air-dry before being used by craftspeople. Words from a poem written by Harriet Fraser are carved in a wooden ribbon which wraps around the 15 foot (3m) sculpture:

to see the wood within the trees
and nurture both
is art and science

life cycling through earth, light and hands
a tender turning: work and beauty,
legacies growing

Before the unveiling the sculpture was hidden under a silk ‘canopy’ made by local artist Jezella Pigott with help of local schoolchildren. The schools involved were Long Wittenham CofE primary School, and Willowcroft Community School in Didcot. The canopy was unwrapped by Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight, with the help of the children, to reveal the Charter Pole for the first time.

Gabriel Hemery, Sylva Foundation CEO, commented:

“It’s been wonderful to watch sculptor Simon Clements at work over many months here at the Sylva Wood Centre, and we hope that many people will come along and watch the unveiling of this stunning oak sculpture.”

“The Woodland Trust have been an inspiration to all of us involved with trees and forestry in leading the creation of the Tree Charter, and we’ve benefited massively from their support in being able to celebrate its launch here in Oxfordshire.”

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust CEO said:

“Following involvement from over 70 organisations, more than 100,000 members of the public and at least 300 community groups the Charter’s 10 guiding principles redefine the relationship people in the UK have with trees and woods. We’re delighted that Sylva is the location for the Utility and Livelihoods pole. The Charter’s ambition was and is to place trees and woods at the centre of national decision making, and back at the heart of our lives and communities. The new charter will redefine the relationship with people and trees in the UK for present and future generations, providing guidance and inspiration for policy, practice and attitude, across Government, businesses, communities and individuals.”

 

 

 


The Charter for Trees, Woods and People

In 1217, two years after the Magna Carta was signed by King John, his heir Henry III signed the Charter of the Forest. The aim of this document was to protect the rights of people to access and use the Royal Forests. The Charter of the Forest provides a window to a time in history when access to woods was integral to the life. Being denied access for grazing livestock, collecting firewood and foraging for food was a real concern for the people of the time.

More than 70 organisations from across multiple sectors have joined forces to create a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People that will guide policy and practice in the UK. We believe the people of the UK have a right to the many benefits brought by trees and woods. The new Tree Charter was launched on 6 November 2017, to recognise, celebrate and protect this right.

www.treecharter.uk

 

 


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Guitar Maintenance and Repair Course

posted on November 15, 2017

Guitar Maintenance and Repair Course

Saturday 3rd March 2018  9:30am – 4:00pm

 In this new one-day course learn how to perform guitar ‘set-ups’ so that your guitar sounds and plays at its best.

The course is run with expert tuition by local luthier Steve Kendall.

All types of guitar catered for: acoustic, electric, and bass.

 

  • Learn how to measure and assess the ‘before’ and ‘after’ conditions of an instrument
  • Learn the theory behind intonation adjustment
  • Learn how the truss rod works and how (and why) to adjust it
  • Understand guitar electrics and how to repair or upgrade them
  • Learn how to repair worn frets and perform fret dressing
  • Learn how to adjust the guitar bridge, neck and nut for optimum payability

 

Cost: £100 per person

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

book-now

Tutor: Steve Kendall, Luthier

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Steve Kendall luthier

Steve Kendall luthier

Steve Kendall has been fascinated by guitars since early childhood and he made his first electric bass guitar at the age of 14. He began learning how to make instruments properly with a lute maker in the ‘80’s. Since 1993 he has repaired, improved, or made guitars and basses for musicians from ‘bedroom-only standard’ to famous professionals. For the last 15 years, he has worked from his stone-built workshop in the Oxfordshire village of East Hanney.

www.stevekendallguitars.co.uk


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Welcome Matt Estlea Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence 2017-18

posted on September 25, 2017

We’re pleased to welcome Matt Estlea as the latest Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Woodworker, designer and creator Matt Estlea takes over from Jan Waterson (2016-17).

Matt Estlea - craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre (2017-18)

Matt Estlea – craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre (2017-18)

Instead of following the traditional approach of making a living from furniture making, Matt has begun exploring the potential of mixing his interests, woodworking and videography, into something that builds an online brand for himself. He runs build-alongs, tutorials and ‘Tool Duels’ on YouTube drawing from both his 5 years experience at Rycotewood, and being an employee at Axminster Tools & Machinery for 4 years. This has given him a unique position in not only understanding the specifications and selling points of tools, but also how to use them to their best potential in a practical environment.

Talking about taking up craftsperson-in-residence at the Sylva Wood Centre Matt said:

“On leaving Rycotewood, many students say that they miss the communal aspects of the workshop. Moving to Sylva was a natural progression for me where I could enjoy my own space yet still enjoy the benefits of being surrounded by a creative and inspiring community.”

Find out more about Matt Estlea and visit his website: www.mattestlea.com

Read more about the Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence in partnership with Oxford City College


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Work gets underway on new Forestry Yard

posted on August 23, 2017

Work has started constructing our new FORESTRY YARD at the Sylva Wood Centre – thanks to support from Oxfordshire Leader funding.

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

Forestry Yard, Sylva Wood Centre

We’ll soon be welcoming a forestry business to the yard, complete with a mobile sawmill and firewood processor (also supported by Leader funding). Meanwhile a joinery business, recently moved down south from Scotland, is refurbishing the old pigsties nearby as it future home.

The site which was derelict just three years ago already supports more than 30 local people. We can’t wait to see the yard stacked with locally-sourced timber from well-managed woodlands.

Oxfordshire Leader

Oxfordshire Leader


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