Pre-fest Courses for 2019

2020 update – it is sadly looking increasingly unlikely that we will be able to run Spoonfest as normal on our normal dates this year. Please keep an eye on the home page and the facebook for updates.


Pre-fest course tutors for 2019 are:  Anna Casserley, Anja Sundberg, Dan Lawrence aka “Dan De Lion”, Fritiof Runhall, & Sean Hellman – scroll down to see details of the courses.

Go to the tickets page to buy tickets for these courses.

Introduction to the pre-fest courses

Spoonfest is a fantastic sharing of skills and great fun but the workshops are just short taster sessions. If you really want to learn then you need longer.

Since we have some of the best spooncarvers in the world coming we thought we should get them here three days earlier and offer the chance of a course. Not only will you have the enjoyment of learning with a small group from a master carver you will also be sharing the Spoonfest site with 4 other courses so we all get to see what the other tutors are up to as well.

Courses cost £275 including all materials. All courses run 2pm-5.30pm on Tues 30th July and 9.30-4.30 on Weds 31st July and Thurs 1st Aug. Free camping on site is included, as is a good lunch each day and lots of tea and coffee. The fires will be going in the evenings for folk to cook over or often there’s a large group goes to eat at a local pub. There are limited shower facilities.

We have big shared lunchtime meals and can see progress in all the classes, almost 5 classes for the price of one. I always love turning up to a festival early and seeing the site build up and then all the visitors arrive, for the folk who come on these special courses the atmosphere is great.

Pre fest courses are aimed at folk who can already use the basic tools rather than absolute beginners. You will need to bring your own tools for your class.

Course Tutors

Tickets for the pre-fest courses go on sale on the Tickets page at 12 noon on Sun 28th April 2019. Places are limited to 10 people per course and some courses sell out quickly.



Anna Casserley seemingly effortlessly produces fantastic cooking spoons of great elegance and we are delighted that she is going to share on this course the techniques that she uses.

Students will start by axing out blanks and Anna is one the best teachers of axe technique. She particularly likes to work standing at a high block rather than seated. For the the next stage Anna will teach the various grips and techniques she uses with the mora push knife with the spoon blank held in a wooden vice, this is particularly good for creating long clean controlled lines on spoon handles. Using whole body movement two hands on the tool with the spoon gripped in a vice makes up for any lack of strength students may worry about. Hollowing the spoon will again be done in the standing position rather than seated. The blank held in the vice and a long handled two handed hollowing knife used.

For this course each student will need to have your own or mora push knife (around £28) and a long handled hook (around £50 or from £27 for a blade to handle yourself) if you don’t have these already book on the course and we can arrange to have the tools available for you to buy at the time.

Basically if you want to be able to make lots of great cooking spoons, want to get more in to production carving, want to get those elusive long smooth lines, prefer working standing than sitting, or worry about whether you are strong enough to make big spoons then this course will be very empowering for you.



One of our favourite fun instructors returns to teach a pretest course this year. It is easy to get stuck in a rut making spoons that are similar to those you made before. Taking a course with Anja will open up so many new possibilities particularly in the fun use of colour. She is the most humble but the most wonderful playful woodworker. Everything she touches seems to turn into a magical new world full of possibilities.

Take this course and your spoons will change, they will become better, they will be brighter, people will smile when they see them. All the best spoon carvers have some of Anja’s spoons in their collection with good reason.

Anja’s Prefest course will cover all aspects of spoon carving, how to use your axe efficiently and precisely, getting close to the final form of the spoon before moving onto finishing cuts with the knife. We will also look at decoration and painting, and there will be a chance to bring your own ideas and projects to the table. There will possibly some dragons involved…

Most suitable for anyone who has a bit of experience wielding axe and knife, but Anja is willing to help any beginners who fancy joining in!



A background in Fine art has resulted in a playful style with a passion for texture and form, giving a unique approach to spoon carving. Dan has been carving spoons for over seven years, and professionally for five. For the past two years Dan has been travelling and learning from some of the best carvers in the UK, which has given a rare insight into the spoon carving world.

Spoons From The Playground

This Prefest course focuses on loosening up and having fun, a great course if you’re interested in breaking away from the norm and exploring other ways of making.

  • we will explore asymmetry
  • ambidextrous carving
  • new ways of coming up with spoon designs for fun and creative spoons
  • look into different methods of learning from mimicking other makers work
  • incorporating marks made by the axe and other tools, along with ways to achieve that super smooth finish you’ve always wanted
  • we will have continued spoon critiques throughout the course. (Critiquing was a major part of Dan’s degree, so feels these are a valuable learning opportunity
  • plus some great simple stretching exercises to keep you carving injury free!



Fritiof Runhall was perhaps the inspiration for spoonfest starting. Back in 2011 he came to teach a course in Edale, most of the UK’s best carvers at the time came  on his course and we all thoroughly enjoyed being students together, learning and sharing. Fritiof has a unique manner of sharing his joy of carving, his courses are less structured than some,  there is freedom for self expression, play, life philosophy. Amongst it all you seem to come away with a vast amount of new knowledge and inspiration. And he is still in our opinion the best spoon carver in the world.

Safe carving includes: 1. sharp tools 2. mastering a variety of tool usage 3. knowledge about the woods interaction with the tools.

Starting off with five essential carving strokes, doing these with knife as well with axe.

Day two we will look at sharpening and saving the edge.

Going natural is the challenge of our time. and usage of natural grown crooks will open a door of imagination. So, we will go ahead, embracing the crooks and making bent wood spoons as a tribute to nature.

Looks are cool, but to achieve that worn beauty of spoons, it is the balance and function of the spoon that makes this happen. We are all different and we see different things, but much we have in common. Let us therefore plunge into the collaborative development of a spoon pearl.

You need to bring your own knife. Also bring a spoon that you find have potential or a sketch of one.




Sharpening and Tool Making:

Good craft relies on fully functioning tools, both their sharpness and the correct edge geometry. Once the craftsperson understands the theory of sharpening, then this sometimes tedious activity can becomes a pleasure, a challenge with constant results.

To understand all of the dimensions of sharpening a tool, it helps to make a tool: experiencing the complete process of grinding, honing and polishing to perfect sharpness. To this end, we will make a small slojd knife from preheat treated O1 steel and will also make a handle for it; the design of this knife will be a Sean Hellman  small whittling knife, which is the perfect finishing knife for spoons. We will also learn how to determine the best edge profile and bevel shape for any cutting tool; learn about abrasives and some of the many machines on the market, as well as experience hands-on use. Bring your own tools too, to learn to sharpen them: axes, knives and spoon knives in particular.

I am a maker, teacher and author. I have been earning a living from working with my hands for over 25 years.  I teach a variety of wood craft and also teach sharpening skills at many of the events I attend. I am currently writing a book: Sharp, due to be published later in 2019 by Crafty Little Press. I have been actively researching it for a decade.

I made my first spoon at the age of 14, whilst living on our family smallholding in Wales. I entered the spoon into the local annual show. Ten years later, and following a formal arts degree, I felt the need to carve again: this time making functional items for the canvas home I lived in, in the woods. I taught myself the hard way by doing and making in isolation, slowly discovering others around me and who shared the same passions for carving and for wood; and eventually becoming part of a global community where traditional craft continues to grow in popularity. I now live in South Devon with my wife.