I was very fortunate that as part of my volunteering, I was taught many things. Besides learning a lot about biodynamic agriculture and plants and animals in general, we were given two craft sessions a week.
It started with Pottery and Lily, a lovely and kind tutor who gave some lessons in building by hand. I couldnt take anything home as they were too heavy so I photographed them, but then gave them away. This is my African Pot and leaf inspired soap dish and a breakfast bowl..not quite as I intended.
I also did baking with Frances, who was very fussy about my hair, and so I tried all ways to tie it up, even although she never tied hers up. She just had a thing about mine.
I learnt how to make sourdough breads,
focaccia (the British way) and a festival bread and lots more, baked in a wood fired oven.
I then did basketry using willow. This is quite different to using cane. I made a large basket which I gave to Alexandra and two short fruit baskets, which I gave to Jess and my Hosts Sally and Stephen.
I then went to the smokery and learnt how to smoke fish and make bacon and hams and sausages, and also seville orange marmalade and black currant jam and Sauerkraut. I did a lot of my own experimenting, including pickling jerusalem artichokes and green fig preserve from an unharvested fig tree. Ruskin mill farm produces tons of berries of all kinds that often go to waste, so I had a field day experimenting. All of which I gave away.
Then we did pottery again with Sam Makumba at the Stroud community pottery. He had o mercy and put us in the deep end and on the wheel.
Here I made a teapot for the farm..I didnt quite like the glaze, which was too thick.
Then we also made a sign for the pottery.
I still wanted to do some felting and tanning of a fleece, but we kind of ran out of time in the end.
The students at Ruskin Mill do a lot more crafts: Stain glass work and glass fusing, Greenwood turning and carving, forging all kinds of things, spinning and weaving. Some crafts like leatherwork and soapmaking have been discontinued because there are almost too many crafts. These are some of their crafts.
In the last week at Ruskin Mill, Frances’ husband, Bernie, runs a camp for families called the Pyrites camp, where they camp for a week at the woodlands on the farm and then choose a craft to do for the week. There are many of them. The whole week is festive, with music and singing in the evenings and food provided all organic.
There are activities for all ages and they have an exhibition of the exquisite work at the end. Usually whole families and a lot of teens join in, many from the local Steiner schools. Many tutors from Ruskin Mill do the crafts, but there are others from outside. here is just a smidgen of what goes on.
Making a Bodhran:
Making a lyre, greenwood turning, bronze and tin casting
forging using sophisticated and primitive forges..this one is stoked by a bicycle pedal!
Pottery for the children, leatherwork and weaving
Stone carving, Stained glass work and charcoal making for the forge.
This was a goat skin tanning to make a drum.
Unfortunately I was running rapidly out of time, and so I could only watch in envy and feast with my eyes.