Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group

23-11-2015: Creative on the Hill

Mid November saw volunteers getting creative with wood during two events at Kingston Hill.

The first event was held in the memorial garden on Armistice Day, helping to re-create the natural dead wood trellis that had been created earlier this year.
Take 1
The trellis was put in to help establish a low honey suckle hedge, creating a frame to train the honeysuckle onto, however it was first created I hadn't used strong enough supports and it soon fell over!

With the help from the workshop team at Knights Park we were able to convert narrow tree stakes into short stakes which were a much stronger support system for the trellis work. 
On the day, the volunteers first untangled the honeysuckle from around the existing fence and carefully dismantled the sections of dead wood to reuse later. 

Then after some judicious weeding, teams of two took turns to fix the new posts into the ground. Then our artistic sides took hold, as the volunteers tried to recreate natural curves along the outer trellis to fix the honeysuckle too. 
Adding in the posts
Fixing the main sections with cable ties
Taking a moment to check the shape
A second team worked to create a second trellis section at the back of the garden which we didn't have time to create in the summer.
May and Justin working on the second stretch of fencing
The completed second section at the back of the garden 

The remaining team at the end of the event
The volunteers worked really hard and were able to finish both sections on the day, creating the support needed for when the honeysuckle starts to grow again next Spring. 
Setting up our rain shelter at the start of the day
The second event was our (now) biannual Woodland Workshop. This time we were learning traditional methods for lighting fires (flint and steel) and using green woodworking skills to carve forks and make whistles.

and more practice!
The fire lighting was interesting as we learnt about different uses of natural materials such as examples of dried fungi species such as King Alfred’s Cake, which can catch and hold a spark, allowing it to be safely moved from site to site and used to set fire to kindling. 

Lighting the cake!
Everyone was able to have a go at creating a controlled fire which was allowed to burn on a safe surface to avoid setting any fires in the forest (thought the constant rain all day helped us stay safe!).

We then had a refresher on green woodwork skills, as Mark took us through the safe way to cut and split wood, and told us how to best use the wood to plan our fork shape. 
Preparing our surface for carving
Once we were all at a stage to start carving, he showed us how to use the knifes to carve safely away from any vital organs and veins and arteries, and then he then told us the most important rule of the day, which was to protect our blood bubble!
What’s a blood bubble I hear you ask…it’s the personal bubble of space that you need to maintain between you and another person when working with a knife to ensure that you don’t have a chance of accidentally cutting them!
Maintaining the blood bubble!
Forks at 2 paces
Before we went on to create our whistles, mark showed us a cool trick using the cap of an acorn to create a very load whiling noise. He had to warn us that it would be a much louder noise then the whistles we were to create would make, as he didn't want us to be disappointed, but it’s a very cool trick – if you want to learn it, you’ll have to come along to one of our future woodwork events :) 

The whistles that we created were made from elder and hazel. Elder is ideal for creating whistles as it has a large sift pith (the white bit in the middle of the stem) which can be hollowed out and shaped. The flipple  was shaped from a young hazel stem.  

It was a fairly simple process, but tricky to execute well. We all managed to produce a working whistle at the end of the day. 
Our woodwind section
If you are interested in learning taking part in one of our woodwork workshops, we have another one coming up in April 2016. 

Instructions on how to sign up to this and our other events can be found on the Biodiversity Events Calendar located here.

Take care 'til next time.

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