What participants said

Thank you for my chair-making experience. I enjoyed everything about it and have such a beautiful chair to admire and sit upon.   Irene

Thanks Peter, a great course. I learnt a lot, and not only about chairs!     'Follow the grain.’     John

Sitting at home in my comfy new spindle-back chair, I find myself astonished to have come so far in only five days. To have made something this sound and marvellous with little to no prior knowledge has been a satisfying experience at every level. I feel that Peter's course has initiated us into an old and dignified tradition which we are part of now. That feeling is priceless.       Hester

Embarking on the course was an adventure from the start since I had never worked with wood before. It was soon obvious that the task was as huge as my lack of experience, and that it would be wise to let myself be carried along - by the process, the instructions, and the material itself. Every component part had to be shaved to size from a freshly cleaved ash log. It felt a bit like a sculptor facing a raw block of marble. The statement that it would be 'like butter' was met with some doubt, but then we did discover the wonderful way of working WITH the wood. The meaning of 'going with the grain' was brought home constantly, tangibly. Physically it was hard work, with sore muscles and the occasional blister and splinter. But the repetitive actions and intense focus can soon lead into a meditative state, where you find 'all of yourself' being present, surrendering to the needs of the chair-to-be. Here also going with the grain, metaphorically, and a taste of what 'doing without doing' might be. Peter accompanies through the process with his skills, as well as caring and sensitive presence, quite aptly 'teaching without teaching'.       Evelyn

Taking part in this course was both tranformative and elevating for me and I enjoyed it so much. "Following the grain" was not only in working with the wood, it was also in the way I related to myself during this process and also in the way Peter related to me. Feeling truly humbled and grateful to have been taught how to make a chair to sit on. Merci.       Sylvain

It was a wonderful experience to learn how to make a chair with a few branches of ash, some hand tools, my own hands and Peter's guidance. For me green wood work was new and I feel I made a great discovery; It suspended the time for 5 days, opening a place for letting go. Peter's way of teaching is in harmony with this idea of letting go: pressureless, enjoyable and safe! ... Going with the grain. Thank you Peter.      Mathieu

It was a real privilege to be taught by Peter Young, not only the technical aspects of chair making, but more especially the opportunity to share thoughts on the 'wisdom of this work, respecting both the materials and ourselves'. I had admired Peter's own chairs at a local show and wanted to learn with him how to make these wonderful objects. I'm an experienced woodworker, but had never worked green wood. I'm also interested in the management and conservation of native woodland. So these different interests came together in this course. I had quite particular objectives. I wanted to explore the methods. I particularly wanted to 'listen to the grain' in a way that green woodworking offers much more directly than, say, frame-and-panel cabinetmaking. I also had particular concerns before I began: would I manage to learn quickly enough to actually make a chair? But at the beginning of the course I wasn't wedded to the idea of taking home a chair. An as it turned out (of course) with Peter's guidance and thoughtfulness, the whole process was fun. It was great to work with the other two students. And in the end, I made my chair. Unexpectedly, it stands there as a little achievement and beckons me to more green woodworking. I've started to make some small things from my own ash and to combine green woodworking and 'bench work' in new ways. 

To make a chair in a week and learn the skills on the way is a tight programme. I would have liked an extra day or even two with Peter to explore a bit more the feel of splitting, shaving, bending green wood, of working closer to the tree, working with, and listening to, the grain. But I guess most people have just a week and within this limitation the course was organised ideally. Perhaps Peter should think of also running short introductory courses that provide plenty of time to play and to make mistakes. Maybe such a course could produce a more modest object that would become a reminder of things learned in the sun and rain in the wood. Thank you Peter for a great course. And the lovely lunches!        Duncan