Last summer we received an e-mail from one of our friends at Surf Simply; Kerianne, their logistics manager, was spending a summer on Long Island, New York, and wanted a making project. She asked if we'd consider sending out to her a couple of "make-your-own" bodysurfing handplane kits, so that she could have a go at crafting a pair of handplanes over the summer to use in the waves around Montauk and the Hamptons, and then when she returned to Costa Rica. We've had requests for kits in the past, however we'd always much rather run one-day workshops so that we can demonstrate the techniques used and guide attendees in the creation of their water-craft. We made an exception for Kerianne though, to see what it would involve for us to send out handplane blanks, hardware, and instructions. We drew some template options on a couple of handplane blanks, packaged them up and shipped them to New York alongside a shopping list of tools and some basic instructions for her, and waited to hear how she got on. You can read Kerianne's account of her making experience over on the Surf Simply magazine, and we were thrilled when she shared this video edit with us, containing clips of her making in Montauk and then some incredible footage captured by Surf Simply's media team out in the warm tropical waters of Playa Guiones, Costa Rica.
Huge thanks to Kerianne for sharing her story, and to Ru Hill (portrait photograph), Marine Jaud (water photography and footage) and Harry Knight (drone footage) for the wonderful imagery. Check out Surf Simply's coaching programmes, podcast and magazine, here.
A couple of Saturdays ago we packed the workshop into the back of the van and drove half an hour up the coast to Watergate Bay Hotel for our first “workshop on wheels” event of 2017. It was a blustery day, and the waves weren’t much to get excited about which was a blessing in disguise as the hotel’s event space is a glass fronted room with panoramic views across one of the better beach breaks in the county. We were joined by Mike, Graham and Christian and spent a wonderful afternoon templating, cutting, rasping and sanding to create three unique handplanes, ready to be oiled and left overnight in the hope that the surf might clean up the following afternoon (we normally advise several coats of oil applied over several days, but wouldn’t have blamed the guys if they wanted to get in before the end of their weekend breaks at the hotel). Our next “workshop on wheels” will take place at Finisterre’s Bristol store in April; you can book your space here.
We've spent a fair bit of time over the last month loading and unloading bits of our workshop in and out of the back of our van, as we've spent a couple of weekends at the Art in Action and Port Eliot festivals whilst attempting to carry on as "business as usual" in between. We're back and properly unpacked again now following a weekend at the incredible Port Eliot literary festival last weekend, and have had a chance to reflect on a really brilliant couple of events that we were very fortunate to be a part of. Over the weekend of July 14-17 James and Chris headed up to Oxfordshire for the last ever Art in Action festival where we were honoured to be awarded the "Best Stand" award in the woodwork tent, as voted for by the other craftspeople exhibiting there. Then last weekend we set-up our trestles and tool wall an hour down the road on the beautiful Port Eliot Estate in St Germans, south east Cornwall, as part of the Makers tent hosted by Hole & Corner magazine and Plymouth University. We ran two handplane workshops (one on Saturday and one on Sunday) so ten people left the festival ready to immerse themselves in the wonderful world of bodysurfing, and had lots of lovely folk stop by to ask us about what we do. We were joined by former workshoppers Tony and Fergus, both of whom helped out on the stand and were the best salesmen for our surfboard workshop courses (Mat overheard Fergus telling an interested fellow to "sell your Porsche, pull your kids out of university, do whatever it takes!"), and Rob who some of you may remember from our bodysurfing and bike-camping trip around Cornwall's far west a few winters ago. We took turns manning the stand, which allowed us all to wander around the site checking out all of the great things that were going on; Port Eliot features book readings, comedy performances, live music, theatre, film screenings, incredible food and drink and a massive range of workshops and talks on topics ranging from astronomy to foraging to cyanotype photography. We swam in the river and slid about in the warm mud, walked around the walled gardens and orangery, and enjoyed watching other craftspeople demonstrating their work at the Hole and Corner tent. Below is just a sample of the weekend that we had. Thank you to Hole and Corner and Plymouth University for inviting us along, and to Cathy St Germans and her late husband, the 10th Earl of St Germans, for throwing such a wonderful weekend in their garden.
The greatest garden party? Port Eliot estate in St Germans during the literary festival.
Tony, floating down the River Tiddy at high tide.
Tony and Chris take a break for a warm mud bath, before attempting to wash it all off.
The Oyster Shack in the walled garden.
The start of our Saturday "Make Your Own" handplane workshop.
Traditional clog maker Jeremy Atkinson at work with his incredible tools.
Late night at The Black Cow Saloon down beside the river.