How to build your own cabin in the woods. A guide to a simpler life by Conrad E. Meinecke

'I think a really wholesome escape, if I may use that term - an escape to run from the crowded city lot to a place where one could plant a garden, raise chickens, pigs and the like - might perhaps add to the national wealth as well as our own good.' - Conrad E. Meinecke

Cabincraft and Outdoor Living is written for the man who has but 2 weeks vacation a year and takes his family with him, or, for the man who has a place in the country and wants to know how to do many things around the place himself. It teaches you how to build a log cabin, with diagrams featuring a bush-craft kit – and using axes, knives, rope and felled trees; how to furnish and beautify your cabin, with tips on cooking, bird listening and lighting fires and stoves. You will learn how to cook the most succulent outdoor dishes you ever dreamed about eating, you will learn how to design and make furniture, how to find water, how to make candles, how to take advantage of the signs that nature posts everywhere for your better living. It is just filled with everything you need to know about the good life in the great outdoors. It’s a poetic celebration of life lived outdoors.

'This is a good world and it will be just what we make of it.'

Read a bit more about the author here



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Printmaker Alan Kitching is blurring the boundaries between handcrafted & digital art

"The craft ethos is coming back into life somehow...people want to touch it again, they want to feel that someone's made this; it hasn't come from a machine or a factory, somebody's actually sat down and thought about it and used their eyes and their hands and they've made this thing..."

Listening to Alan Kitching talk about the practice and art of his craft is an inspiring thing. A leading practitioner in letterpress printing, typography and design, Alan uses only traditional methods for printing and refrains from using technology to aide his artistic process. Alan's knowledge, talent and ongoing passion for the authentic, age-old printing process is encouraging a resurgence in the design world. Many digital designers are especially looking to the qualities found in good craftsmanship to incorporate into the aesthetic of contemporary digital design.

Writers and critics have been calling it 'a renaissance of craftsmanship'. In an age where technology dominates almost every aspect of life, the past decade has welcomed the rapid return of the handmade quality, aesthetic & process into digital design. Alan has developed a style that allows him to move and work with the contemporary times but also to stay loyal to the element of craft. Something that, upon close observation, is always evident in his quite graphic work: the imperfect, tactile, subjective, human, natural qualities that can be found in craftsmanship.

His recent collaboration with Monotype is a perfect example of how Alan can adapt and thrive in the digital age. Two of the biggest typographic forces who are at the top of their game in their respective fields; one works with his hands, the other works with technology. Monotype are global trailblazers in type and home to some of the world's most popular typefaces including Times New Roman, Gill Sans and Arial. The collaboration with Alan is first and foremost a celebration of type, but it was also a chance to see what qualities the handcrafted element can bring to typefaces that were conceived digitally.

The collaboration process

Alan collaborated with Monotype to produce a collection of work that would pay tribute to five influential graphic designers of the past century: Tom Eckersley, Abram Games, FHK Henrion, Josef Müller-Brockmann and Paul Rand, honouring their life and work. He chose individual typefaces from the Monotype archives for each designer, he then created his own hand-cut letters out of card to be used on the printing press. He produced five pieces for the exhibition that all feature overlapping type; choosing distinct colours and compositions that would represent the work of each individual designer. The monographs were then mass screen-printed and made into leaflets to accompany the exhibition.

The finished pieces blur the line between handcrafted and digital art, even so, on close observation the craft element shines through in the finer details; a brush stroke or a tiny bleeding of ink into the paper, these are some of the unavoidable and beautiful qualities of handcrafted that can add depth and character to the art of digital design.

'The element of craft has been lost in design, to see Alan's work re-invents that.'

- James, Creative Director at Monotype

 The final monographs by alan kitching / monotype

The final monographs by alan kitching / monotype

We have a fantastic print workshop coming up at Gather this year, run by our good friend Nick Hand. Have a go at this beautiful craft yourself & book tickets for Gather here

Alan's latest book, Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress, was released in April this year. Read more about the beautiful book & Alan himself in an article by It's Nice That

The video below shows a glimpse behind the scenes of the Kitching/Monotype collaboration process, well worth a watch!



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100 chairs in 100 days and its 100 ways, an extraordinary story of design by Martino Gamper

A recalled dialogue from some time ago:

Martino: I will make 100 chairs

åbäke: What, the same one 100 times?

M: No, they will be different. They’ll be actual size 3D sketching, somehow, you know, instead of drawing on a piece of paper.

å: Sounds great. Do it in 100 days then.

Renowned for his cross-disciplinary and culturally responsive approach to design, London-based Martino Gamper came to major acclaim with 100 Chairs in100 Days.

Some ten years ago, the London-based, Italian-born furniture designer initiated his project, 100 Chairs in 100 Days. He made a new chair a day for a hundred days by collaging together bits of chairs that he found discarded on the street or in friends’ homes. Blending found stylistic and structural elements, he generated perverse, poetic, and humorous hybrids. The project combined formal and functional questions with sociological and semiological ones. Or, as Gamper put it:

‘What happens to the status and potential of a plastic garden chair when it is upholstered with luxurious yellow suede?’ 

The project was all about being creative, but within restrictions—being limited to materials at hand and the time available, with the requirement that each new chair be unique. Gamper's ‘three-dimensional sketchbook’ brought him international recognition. The project was exhibited in London in 2007, at the Milan Triennale in 2009, and at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, in 2010.

'There is no perfect design and there is no über-design. Objects talk to us personally. Some might be more functional than others, and the emotional attachment is very individual.' 

 buy the book   here

buy the book here

Words adapted from an article from Martino Gamper's website, find it here



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Looking to trees, flowers & seaweed, Hazel Stark uses all natural dyes for her textiles

Hazel is a London based designer-maker creating unique textiles through natural processes. In researching and developing her natural dyeing methods, Hazel has tried and tested formulas that can produce exquisite colours. She works with only natural ingredients: from trees, plants & flowers to seaweed.

Hazel decided to leave the big smoke to spend a Summer with us working as a Pizzatipi chef; helping to come up with tasty salads, desserts and pizza specials. That was three years ago and she's been a great friend of fforest ever since. We are huge admirers of Hazel's work. We got to learn lots about it during the time she spent with us at the Pizzatipi, so it was a no-brainer that we should invite her to share her knowledge and artistic skill with us and our fforest Gather guests.

Last year, Hazel led her brilliant natural dyeing and indigo dyeing workshops at fforest farm; foraging for plants and flowers to then be used to dye fabric. Hazel's workshops are insightful and fulfilling as a result of dyeing fabrics naturally with plants and flowers foraged by your own hands. You learn so much and are astonished at the array of beautiful colours you can produce from natural dyeing recipes. We're very excited to have Hazel back with us for both weeks of Gather this August.

Nettle, blackberry & ragwort



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Nick Hand revives & celebrates the artisan craft of letterpress printing

Nick brings age-old machinery, technique & skill to his Gather workshops. Now considered an artisan craft, letterpress printing is beautifully revived and celebrated by Nick and his letterpress team, and then shared with our eager Gather guests.

Nick will be joining us for the 2nd time at Gather this year. He will teach you all about the art of printing with presses, an authentic mode of printing that is often overlooked in today's digital world. But it is an art-form that should never be forgotten. Printing in this way creates more than just a beautiful finished product, it becomes an art from start to finish. Every element of the process needs artistic attention: choosing your paper, letters, ink, composition... a satisfying and utterly fascinating workshop with beautiful outcomes.

A bit more about The Letterpress Collective...

Bringing slumbering presses back to life to engage with artists, writers and community projects in Bristol. The Letterpress Collective teaching both type composition and printing skills.
The Letterpress Collective has spent 2013 gathering beautiful wood and lead type as well as collecting amazing printing presses including a lovely Heidelberg Windmill Platen (winched out of the store MShed by dockside crane), a Stephenson Blake proofing press and a set of nice little Adana hand presses.
Silently, and without anyone really noticing, the last commercial letterpress printer shut its doors in Bristol in 2012 after maybe 600 years of continuous work in the city. This is our chance to learn from the last of the printers and compositors in the city so that a new generation can understand and learn the thrill of working a small press and seeing your creation in ink on paper.

find out more about Gather and book your tickets here

Visit the letterpress collective website here



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Kids craft competition!

Most of the fforest elves grew up in Wales and went to Welsh schools. They say that every year they looked ahead to one special day in particular...

A day for dressing up, singing, making, baking and just having lots of fun in general, St David's day is one of the best days in the Welsh school calendar. Baking welsh cakes, churning butter, performing in a mini Eisteddfod, making cards and being let loose on the art supplies...it's an exciting day for children of any age.

Our fforest elves would like to encourage you to get creative this St David's day... Here's the brief:

Create a St David's day masterpiece of pure magnificence! Whether its been created at school or at home, we want to see what the young artists of Wales* can produce! Choose anything Welsh as your inspiration... leeks, daffodils, sheep, DRAGONS! Whatever you choose to make, we want to see it...

*not confined to Wales, if we have any young takers from further afield please join in too!

So mums and dads, send us your photos on Instagram (tag us @fforest) or tag us in a Facebook post. Our favourite entry will win a special fforest prize.

GOOD LUCK KIDS!

Want a bit of crafty inspiration? Click on the images below. (apparently all we have is daffodils...)



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The Art of Egg Rolling

One of our favourite Easter traditions is painting hard boiled eggs to race down the fforest lodge hill, and we have seen some great egg art at fforest over the years...but we are always looking for new inspiration for Easter guests' blank egg canvases. This short documentary has definitely caught our attention...  

'The Easter tradition of dyeing eggs is practised by people all over the world, but in Ciocanesti, a small village in Romania's northern region of Bukovina, this tradition has evolved into an art form. Exquisitely hand painted with intricate traditional designs, each of these eggs takes hours to create and is among the things the people here are most proud of.' 

...and have a look at a few other fun ideas we've found. They may be a bit less fiddly than traditional Romanian techniques but look equally as impressive!



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Make it in Wales

A local enterprise started by Suzi Park, and founded upon the principle that high-end craft courses should and can be available to a people of any and every ability. He or she must simply be eager to learn.

Suzi will be co-hosting our Syjunta weekend in February with Sian: A weekend of chatting, embroidering and great simple food in beautiful Ty Fforest. Come alone or with a friend. Accommodation is in comfortable shared rooms or a private double with ensuite.  Expert guidance on design and embroidery is included. All skill levels welcome.
Find out more here

Head to the website to find out what courses are on when and where www.makeitinwales.co.uk



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Book here