“I want to bring rural crafts to the city of Manchester and help keep them alive”

Steve Tomlin runs a series of traditional workshops from Chorlton in Manchester that are proving a big success
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Steve Tomlin has quite an unusual hobby.

He likes to carve spoons.

And is it turns out, so do a lot of other people too.

Steve, from Chorlton, runs a unique set of craft workshops aiming to bring rural crafts to the city, and they have been hugely successful.

He came 12th in a competition run by Eventbrite showcasing some of the most curious and colourful events across the UK.

Mr Tomlin runs a range of workshops such as spoon carving, basket weaving and much more: aiming to keep side-lined and forgotten crafts from going extinct.

During his workshops, participants learn how to use an axe and knives, to shape freshly cut greenwood into an everyday object that they can use at home – the simple wooden spoon.

His workshops have been hugely popular, and we asked him why he thought that was.

Speaking to I Love MCR, Steve said: “Over the past few years I’ve seen a huge rise in demand for these courses, to learn a craft.

“I think many people I deal with stare into a computer screen all day, and just are completely bored of it.

“With these craft classes, it’s great to use your hands and take up something practical. I think I’ve found a real niche in bringing rural countryside crafts into the city.”

One of the other contributing factors to the uptick in crafting lessons could be on the proliferation of TV shows showing people who partake in craft activities.

Shows like The Prince’s Master Crafters: The Next Generation has found a huge audience on Sky.

Steve started carving in 2003, following a period of disillusionment with his job.

He said: “About twenty years ago I had a proper office job that I really didn’t enjoy. I fancied a change so did a bit of volunteer conservation work in the woods.

“I became really interested in different trees, and the property of trees and how they had been used in the pat.

“I wanted to be able to make things on a small budget and without very much room, and wooden spoons are perfect for that!”

“I think it’s still very popular now for that reason, it’s very accessible. You don’t need many tools, you don’t need many materials. For a craft from the countryside, in many respects it’s the perfect one to do in the city.

As part of the full day Spoon Carving Workshop, participants learn to use an axe and knives to shape fresh greenwood into an everyday object that they can use at home – a wooden spoon.

It’s a perfect introduction to wood carving, a skill that few people possess these days.

You can book a place at one of Steve’s events in Chorlton by clicking here.

Steve wanted to encourage people to try something new, and pick up some new skills.

He said: “Why not come and try something that’s so far away from what you normally do.

“It’s not very often you get to use an axe. It can be quite daunting to begin with but it’s honestly great. You get to start the process with a well known material, wood, and end up turning it into something completely different and useful. The humble spoon.”

Steve said his main objective was to keep crafting alive.

“I honestly think having a skill, or knowing a craft can add such a big amount to people’s lives.

“I work with the heritage association to try and encourage people to keep these crafts alive.

“Without us keeping them going, they will die and that’s not what I want.

“I want to keep these skills alive.”

Steve is an internationally renowned wood craftsman. He has been carving spoons for over 15 years and teaches his lively, fun workshops at venues across the UK.

In 2014, Steve was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship for his work and was the winner of the 2018 Marsh Award for Endangered Crafts.

You can visit his website here.

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