My attendance at this year's Bushcraft Magazine May Day meet was only my second time with last year being my first, but I was surprised to find that this is actually only in it's tenth year, it seems to have the feel of being around longer. I always like to take a picture of the magazine stand but it's a little narcissistic of late as that's me staring down from the top left hand corner.
I'd set out with a little extra journey time built in (best to if the M25 and Dartford Crossing are involved in a journey) but both behaved and I arrived early. I saw Will Lord who I did a one-to-one with last year during my sabbatical and I purchased a copper flaking tool off him for knapping arrowheads and the like. As generous as ever Will gave me a quick refresher on how to form long flakes.
As is the tradition the days start off with one of the organisers Steve Kirk kicking off a quick roundup of parish notices and the days proceedings around ten o'clock. The weekend has a feel of it coming together very organically and the varied demonstrations and activities sometimes slip a little time wise but that laid back vibe is very much the heartbeat of the event.
Steve really knows his flora and fauna and as I'd completed the Paul Kirtley year long online masterclass last year I wanted to head out with him. I didn't last the course as I had to get back for another workshop that had caught my fancy but it's no big deal and Steve said he is used to folk catching the walk up and leaving early, all part of the laid back feel.
This is Allan Course the "old hippy" who was running a pewter workshop which I had left Steve's walk for. When I got back he was still guiding folk through making Sycamore whistles but no problem I just went elsewhere, all part of the laid back feel.
It was also nice to catch up with Gary Johnson of Jack Raven Bushcraft who I also did a sabbatical one-to-one with, as well as seeing Jason Ingamells and his family who were there for a family day out. Amongst others I bumped into Hannah Nicholls, Beaver bushcraft, Steve's lovely wife Carol and various noogoodniks from Woodlife Trails who were just taking in the weekend as opposed to doing a stand. There were a few absentees due to various reasons and one notable arriving on Sunday (forager Carol Hunt) and for all I know there may have been someone there for Saturday only. As I said the event isn't set in stone. Incidentally the soap is one that Gary's wife had made.
So anyway, after a nosebag it was back to the pewter workshop that had caught my eye during the morning briefing. Allan had his homemade 'forge' with his crucible for pouring and an old cat food tin to melt the pewter which can be seen.
He set us off carving an image into a Cuttlefish which was to be the mould. 'Unluckily' for Allan this proved to be a popular base and a lot of people eventually rocked up.
My mould was the second to be filled with pewter but is sadly ran out the bottom. Allan pressed on with other moulds and said that he would come back to any that didn't work and have another go later. I then removed myself and went to Matthew Selfe who was running a Rabbit prep base with the view to curing the pelt afterwards. I can do a decent prep job and there's no one way of doing it but I'd wanted to see if it's possible to get most or even all the skin off (including ears). The reason is that I want to replace Steve with something more real. I had to bow out when I realised the time as I had to head back for a family meal and it was later afternoon.
I popped over to see Cathy and Steve to say goodbye and he kindly asked Allan if he would have another crack at my bat as I was leaving, he did and I'm pleased with the result. The lower wing was hollowed out a little more at the last minute but I'm sure I can get this looking good with a little filing.Incidentally the odd looking extension on the bat's wing is the excess pewter that filled the sprue (the funnel shaped entrance onto the mould).
Due to finding out that I'm a bit of an iron magnet I decided to investigate if I could leave my jerky tower to a good home at the show. Luckily it has panned out that way and I left it set up by the magazine back issues. The short version of how I made the tower can be seen here.