We’ve all been in social situations when you've talked with people about their jobs and some of the things they get up to and despite some fancy sounding title they usually end up doing something pretty mundane. I’m sure though if you met someone and they said they carved spoons then that really would be something different. Well, recently we not only got chance to spend a full day with someone who does this but had a go ourselves. And it was brilliant.
Giles Newman lives a few miles away from us and his wife works with Viv. For a number of years we’ve followed his work on Instagram as he has developed something we think is unique and wonderful. Carving wooden spoons and jewellery doesn’t quite describe what he actually does – he creates miniature masterpieces. Visit his website if you want your eyes well and truly opened! www.gilesnewman.com
Last year he started to offer workshops to people and unfortunately we couldn’t make one however we managed to make one of the first ones this year and what an outstanding experience it was.
Adam, Lucy , Simon and myself took part under the ever watchful expert eye of Giles himself and in the space of a day, sitting around the kitchen table, we managed to turn silverbirch logs into something we were very proud of and which I think we were amazed at too.
Not exactly knowing how the day would pan out Giles put everyone at ease straight away with a quick run through of some of his previous work and a little about the basics of the craft - as well as a comprehensive health and safety talk. Whilst we only used 2 knives all day they were of course incredibly sharp (scalpel sharp was the phrase) and we wore cut-proof gloves all the time.
After an outline of how things work and some demonstrations of a few of the techniques – again safety in mind all the time - it was time to practice on some test pieces. After getting comfortable with the basics it was down to choosing the piece of wood each of us would be working on and getting the design onto it. This was done with some guidance from Giles about knots and how the grain of the wood works. After about 10 minutes and some last minute changes we all had our designs sketched out on our pieces of wood.
As the son of a joiner (which I did keep getting reminded of!) I am in reality not the greatest using my hands, but the simplicity of the tools and holding the wood was actually quite relaxing and at various stages I think we all “zoned” out a little and got right into it.
With a great supply of coffee and tea, an endless supply of chatter, stories and laughs (whittle waffle) and a break for lunch, progress was quickly made. Giles joined in with work, starting on a new piece and made it look so easy compared to our efforts! Before we knew it several hours had passed and we had all got something in our hands that: looked like a spoon, was in line with the designs we 'd planned and which we all seemed a bit surprised that we'd actually made!
After a bit of magic with a boiled potato to dry the wood out, some sanding and a dip in a bath of Tung oil (the spoons not us!) we all had our finished spoons ready to take home (after some more photos).
It really was a full - on day but a fantastic one and I love doing stuff like this when you know you are in the presence of a real expert who helps guide and advise in a friendly way. It’s also an eye opener when you can actually do something like this to fully appreciate the skills that someone has and how they use them.
Giles, thank you once again for a great day.
For more of his work visit: www.gilesnewman.com
Or follow on Instagram - @giles_newman
We always find New Year’s Eve a funny night and over the past few years we have, like lots of other people, adopted the PJ’s, pizza and film approach to bringing in the new year. After the stress of last minute preparations for our daughter’s January 2nd wedding last year we decided to go for a different way to celebrate the arrival of 2017.
Having decided to watch the fireworks from our room we grabbed a few midnight snacks and a bottle of champagne for later and dropped them off in our rooms
The Bridgewater Hall had really excelled with their theming for the night. ”A Night at the Oscars” meant we walked a red carpet complete with paparazzi snapping you as you walked past and found very large film themed props everywhere for you to use in your own pics. There was music and entertainment in the foyer and the building was beautifully decorated. The concert was everything we had hoped for. Manchester Camerata are a very exciting orchestra – the last time we had seen them was for the wonderful Hacienda Classical – a must see if you haven’t yet. They took us on a journey from West Side Story to James Bond with Disney, ET, Gladiator and much more thrown in. They even managed a moving tribute to Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher, following their sad deaths during the Christmas period, with John William’s Princess Leia’s theme followed by Singing in the Rain. Louise Dearman and Oliver Tompsett joined the orchestra throughout the night and their Bond solos at the end brought the house down. Just time for a mass singing of Auld Lang Syne followed by the 633 squadron and it was time to hit the fireworks.
We managed to change into PJ’s and the hotel gowns (got to keep up some traditions) just in time for the fireworks, champagne and hummus! The view from our window was amazing and the fireworks were great! We even had a birds eye view of a massive traffic jam down Deansgate!
Best New Year’s Eve we’ve had for a long time and breakfast in the hotel the next morning in the Cloud 23 executive bar finished off a perfect couple of days!
Life and other