whittling workshop

this was no ordinary whittling workshop for it was the first I’ve delivered and the first session to a group of solely adults.  I was at the Derbyshire eco centre for the annual Derbyshire county council forest school day and I have to say the event was relaxed, well organised with lots of interesting people to talk to.


I got involved by answering a call for additional workshops.  I’ve thought about delivering a workshop in the past and never really seen the idea through.  I replied to the email thinking it would be unsuccessful as there was bound to be numerous offers for workshops.

the offer was still available and I was on !

I can’t now remember exactly how I arrived at the method of delivery I used, it might have been that I was working on limited resources, i.e. low numbers of knives.  I devised a workshop that had scaffolding built into the process and peer to peer involvement too.


my session was for 16 people to whittle a character in 6 steps.  the character was a fox and the six steps can be repeated with other pieces of wood to create a skulk.



using informal mindfulness I was able to control my nerves as I got ready for the workshop was just ready for the appointed time.  using the available resources in the field I created four work areas.  the participants of the workshop naturally formed themselves into a circle and this was great for introductions and finding out a little about them all.

splitting them into 4 groups of 4 set up my working with 4 people at a time to demonstrate the next cut to be made.  I hoped that by doing it this way as well as sharing the new knowledge about the whittle there would also be chances to share and discuss amongst themselves.


the session got started and progressed at a good pace.  at one point I realised I was in a field with 16 people and I was hardly having to talk.  occasionally I circulated around the groups and all were very happy in their whittling and conversation.

reflecting on the time management of the workshop I did ok, I think everyone did finish their character with about half managing to add the decoration for the face.  maybe I should have been more on the ball with keeping the making going, although if I had done this maybe the conversations would have been stunted and after all part of the day is being with other practitioners and having time to talk and share with them.


as the session progressed I realised I could use a set of four pieces of wood to track how each group were progressing by assigning one character to each group.  I liked how I realised this and immediately applied what I’d learnt.

in a discussion about setting up the workshop there had been a question about wether an hour was long enough for this workshop.  I think it is if I can unpack the session plan more efficiently to the participants.  one thing I’d not realised prior to the end of the session was the space we were working in was being used by another workshop immediately after and so I was quite surprised when the group walked in.

my main reflection point being that I’m sure I can end the session better by being more organised and sure of myself at the start to give us a few more minutes.  I would have liked to have seen everyone’s character. as it was I did get to see a few and they were gorgeous.  there was one in particular that stuck out for me as it even had a tail !



so overall I think the session was ok and there is so much I’ve learnt and can feedback into the session should I deliver it again and I think I would like to at some point.  the beginning went to plan even though I got a little confused, the group were really lovely and stayed with me.  the middle part was a joy, lots of chatter and whittling, sharing the next stage of the process when the group were ready to see it.  the end has the area for most improvement and its something I probably need time to process and think about.  when we were packing up the verbal feedback was all positive and encouraging, I’d love for  the written feedback to echo this, I’ll hopefully know for sure soon.


my final thought is to do with was today a good thing to do.  I  say  yes.  the event has the wonderful Sarah and Geogre involved from environmental services.  both women are amazing and encouraging and knowledgable and supportive and the forest school day is the perfect place to try something out.  in fact if you’re in Derbyshire and have often wondered about delivering a workshop but were afraid to, talk to Sarah about your interest and see where the conversation takes you.   thank you, thank you, thank you to the Derbyshire County Council  forest school day for this opportunity to deliver a whittling workshop, I’ve learnt so much from the delivery and the day and look forward to delivering more workshops in the future.

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