Mak­ing some­thing from noth­ing is a good use of re­sources and good for the soul, dis­cov­ers TRACY WHIT­MEY.

Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

Tracy Whit­mey tells of a so­cial en­ter­prise teach­ing how to craft what we need from what we have

WHEN WE ARE ABLE TO cre­ate what we need from what we have, we are re­source­ful. When we are re­source­ful we make the most of our own in­ner re­sources while liv­ing care­fully in re­la­tion to the re­sources upon which we de­pend. JULIET ARNOTT

The Jour­nal of Re­source­ful­ness, Vol 1

Sev­eral times a year Juliet Arnott’s ‘of­fice’ is a wood­land cop­pice, where she will spend the day teach­ing peo­ple to use hand tools to make a three­legged stool from green wood. She loves the wood­land school set­ting, “It’s quite mag­i­cal work­ing out among the birds, they’re so cu­ri­ous they’ll come and sit on your boots. It’s a very spe­cial ‘other’ ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Juliet is founder and di­rec­tor of Rekin­dle, a so­cial en­ter­prise with a mis­sion to help peo­ple to re­use waste prod­ucts. It is driven by the recog­ni­tion that we con­sume far too much and pro­duce too much waste, and that if we don’t change we will wreck the planet.

Af­ter many years tack­ling huge projects look­ing at waste­ful­ness – in­clud­ing dis­man­tling an en­tire house and mak­ing new prod­ucts from the re­cov­ered ma­te­ri­als – Juliet felt the need to re­fo­cus Rekin­dle and bring it to a more per­sonal level. “We needed to think, ‘What is the op­po­site of waste­ful­ness?’ The gen­eral pub­lic are not in­spired by aca­demic terms such as the cir­cu­lar econ­omy and fun­da­men­tal sys­tem­atic adap­ta­tion. But re­source­ful­ness is a much more ap­proach­able idea. Peo­ple un­der­stand that you can’t lead a waste­ful life and foster your in­ner re­sources at the same time.”

Juliet recog­nised that it can be con­fus­ing and com­pli­cated to live our lives ac­cord­ing to the things we are not sup­posed to do and all the waste we should not cre­ate. So she de­cided to take a sim­pler ap­proach: to teach peo­ple craft skills so that they can make what they need from what they have lo­cally. In­spired by craft tra­di­tions and fu­elled by her ex­pe­ri­ence as an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist, Juliet now fa­cil­i­tates work­shops in wooden-spoon carv­ing, bas­ket weav­ing, string and rope mak­ing and green­wood-fur­ni­ture mak­ing. The classes use un­der­val­ued ma­te­ri­als such as cab­bage-tree leaves, flax leaves or green wood – freshly felled tim­ber that would have oth­er­wise been turned into wood chips. “Peo­ple love that they can grab a hand­ful of leaves that would have been thrown away and make some­thing use­ful. Of­ten it’s the first bas­ket that they’ve ever made and it’s the first time that they have thought of these leaves in the con­text of a solid, hard bas­ket.”

Few par­tic­i­pants have any ex­pe­ri­ence of these crafts. In par­tic­u­lar, green­wood-work­ing was not common in New Zealand, the skills over­taken by sawmilling . “Split­ting and cleav­ing wood is part of the green­wood tra­di­tion. It cap­tures the strength of work­ing with the grain, rather than saw­ing across the grain,” says Juliet. “It’s a lovely tra­di­tion as it teaches peo­ple about trees and gives them a full ap­pre­ci­a­tion of tim­ber. It puts re­spon­si­bil­ity for the whole process onto the craftsper­son.”

Even the cop­pice where the work­shops are holds a mes­sage. “It looks un­man­aged, but the his­tory of the cop­pice speaks of wood­land man­age­ment and multi-species plant­ing, which res­onates to­day.”

When not work­ing in the woods, classes are held in the Arts Cen­tre in Ōtau­tahi, Christchurch. “It’s a beau­ti­ful space, very spe­cial and it’s cel­e­bra­tory to be al­lowed back into the build­ing.” Here, small groups of 6-12 peo­ple gather to learn and kids have their own classes, too. Dur­ing carv­ing classes the floor is covered with wood chips and wood shav­ings from the hand tools, and the room smells of wal­nut oil and flaxseed oil. A com­plete be­gin­ner can learn to make rope in just a few hours, or take home a hand-carved spoon af­ter half a day. “Most peo­ple come firstly to ex­pe­ri­ence the craft,” says Juliet, “then they get the se­condary delight of us­ing what they’ve made when they get home, or giv­ing it as a gift.”

She would love to find a lo­cal maker of the tools that are used, es­pe­cially straight whit­tling knives and the curved hook knives used to shape the bowl of a spoon. “We know the skills are there, we just have to find the right peo­ple.”

From 8-17 Novem­ber, 2018 Rekin­dle will host ‘Nec­es­sary Tra­di­tions’, a fes­ti­val which will see 40 skilled crafts­peo­ple giv­ing demon­stra­tions and hold­ing work­shops of tra­di­tional crafts, in­clud­ing man­dolin mak­ing, ce­ram­ics with lo­cal clays and pig­ments, let­ter­press and type­set­ting, shoe­mak­ing, pre­serv­ing and fer­ment­ing, earth-build­ing, re­uphol­stery, black­smithing, stone­ma­sonry, book­bind­ing and rag-rug mak­ing.

Juliet says, “What peo­ple re­ally love is that the work­shops fo­cus on learn­ing skills, rather than the ac­qui­si­tion of ob­jects.” / rekin­

What peo­ple re­ally love is that the work­shops fo­cus on learn­ing skills, rather than the ac­qui­si­tion of ob­jects.

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