9.8-9.10 // A Hand-Crafted Life w/ Larry Cooper // Weekend Retreat
Join us for a weekend of working with our hands, rediscovering the pleasure and satisfaction of craftsmanship.
Hand tools are intimate. One fondles the wood, caresses it with a chisel or plane, studies slowly the grain and figure, and feels the result with fingertips sensitive to plane blade ridges and tear out. The chisel looks for loose fibers, smoothing it away with a deft stroke. Paring a dovetail adds one's mark as each is slightly different from the thousands that came before, and carefully you match it with a mate.
Hand tools may be modern or ancient, shop made or purchased, new or secondhand .. but they all connect one to the history of craftsmen, all of whom used similar technique, all who took pride in developing their technique, and who recognized handwork as a mark of the craftsman.
Purchase just one class, or save by coming for the full retreat and camping with us all weekend long!
Larry Cooper has spent a lifetime accumulating knowledge about tools, how to make them, care for them, use them, and teach others about them. Having spent decades as a professional blacksmith, Larry loves to share his deep knowledge about the value of good tools with others. Larry has been an instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School and led workshops and classes in many different locations on a diverse set of traditional skills from blacksmithing, tool making, ox driving, green woodworking, and much more.
Saturday morning, September 9th, 8a-12p Scything Demonstration and Mowing
Ahhhh, the scythe. It’s a most graceful and wonderful departure from the smoky and noisy weed-whacker. Once you learn to properly work with a scythe, you’ll never go back. Scythes are from an era when the human body was the only source of power for most people. The smooth and easy rhythm of swinging that razor sharp blade through the grass was a heartbeat for many centuries of mowers around the world.
Come join us in the early morning when the grass is wet and heavy with dew and waiting for you to mow! You’ll learn proper mowing techniques that make the work pleasant and how to get the swing of it.
Sharpening techniques will be demonstrated, and you’ll learn how to choose and use scythe whetstones. Scythe peening will be demonstrated and demystified. It’ll be a great morning in the grass!
“My long scythe whispered and left the to make.” (Robert Frost)
Lunch Break + River Time 12-1:30p
Saturday afternoon, September 9th, 1:30-4:30p: Wooden Spoon Carving (Sloyd Swedish Style)
The hand carving of wooden eating and cooking utensils is truly an ancient skill. Larry will introduce you to a modern (mid 1860s) Scandinavian style of carving called Sloyd.
Sloyd introduces a carefully thought out series of ‘holds’ that allow small, accurate cuts and maximizes safety and control while carving your utensil.
You will learn how to move the knife so that the energy of movement with your knife hand will end with your intentional body movement. When you try to paint a very fine line you may use two hands, one to paint and one to rest your control hand on.
The Sloyd style is similar to this and the safest way to carve with controlled and intentional, small movements.
We’ll make a couple of tools: a basic spreader for your peanut butter and a cooking spoon. Larry will bring wooden blanks for this class to make things easier and will demonstrate the use of an axe to make more complex spoons when you’re ready to begin a greater understanding of carving.
There will be knives available for use or for purchase.
Campers stay- hang out by the fire, chat with Larry, take another dip in the river or read in the hammock!
Sunday, September 10th, 10a-1p: Tools Management and Repair
Tools, tools, tools! There are so many out there- what do I need? Are old ones better? What’s good, what’s not?
Everyone has a favorite tool and one or two that need some love and attention. Tools work better and last longer when they are properly maintained. This class will be a great first step in learning that crucial skill.
Larry will bring along a few tools that will help make the work easier, and he'll give you the information you’ll need to set up your own workbench. Larry will also demonstrate proper wooden handle installation.
Bring a tool that you may want to get back into the game, and we'll help you figure out how to make that happen!
Date: September 8-10, 2023
Time: Varies by class.
Location: Private and serene retreat center on the South Toe River off of Lower Browns Creek in Celo, NC. Directions will be provided upon registration.Price: You are welcome to come camp for the weekend or purchase a class-only option.
- Full weekend retreat: $195 includes
- Fri + Sat night camping along the South Toe River
- Sat + Sun classes and all class materials
- Access to our outdoor kitchen and fridge, community living room, wood-fired cob ovens, and other property amenities to cook and enjoy your meals + indulge in relaxation and river time!
- Classes only (includes lunch Sat + Sun and all materials): $95
- One-off class purchase:
- Wooden Spoon Carving (Sloyd Swedish Style): $45
- Tool Care + Repair: $35
- Scything Demonstration + Mowing: $35
- Work Trade: $105
We have a few work-trade opportunities available at a subsidized cost of $105 for the weekend, camping and meals included. If you wish to be considered, please email us at email@example.com with your name, why you are passionate about attending this weekend + the skills that you would like to offer in exchange for the funding. We are excited to get to know you better!
About the Venue + Camping Details
Camping is welcomed! Sit by the fire and practice your new skill with new friends.
Arrive Friday afternoon 4-6p and pack up Sunday by 6p. Two full nights of camping at our serene events venue with the best swimming hole on the South Toe!
- Private camping alongside the pristine South Toe River with access to a glorious swimming hole!
- Community Living Room
- Outdoor Kitchen w/ fridge
- Cob oven
- Wood Fired Oven
- Fire pit
- Cotton Hammocks galore!
- Trout fishing (BYOPole)
You will need to bring your own tent, sleeping bag and pad, rain fly, and anything else you might normally need to feel comfortable camping outside. There is no bathhouse or shower available, but the river is clean and luxurious! We will send out a welcome packet with a recommended packing list and more information upon registration.
Meet your Instructor
Cancellation by Villagers:
If a class needs to be cancelled because (1) it does not meet the minimum number of registrations or (2) due to inclement weather, you will be notified by email 24 hrs in advance. Please check your email 24 hrs prior to class. For cancellations by Villagers, you will receive a full refund.
Cancellation by Student:
In order to receive a refund minus a 15% service fee, you must cancel before September 2nd, 2023 (one week prior to the retreat). Cancellations with less than one week's notice are not eligible for a refund.
If you do not show up and do not give notice, your registration fee will be treated as a donation to the teacher and Villagers.