Carving out a new niche for campus wood

by Anonymous Author

A series of wood-carving workshops is helping local Selwyn children and adults to salvage some of Lincoln University’s historic timber.

Christchurch-based social enterprise, Rekindle, has set up shop at the Brandenburg Coppice on the university’s Lincoln campus to teach members of the public how to carve spoons and three-legged stools from the mature timber of 80 to 120-year-old oak trees.

The trees were recently cleared to make way for the planned Lincoln University and AgResearch Joint Facility, a new shared education and research centre, which will replace the campuses’ earthquake-damaged buildings.

Rekindle focusses on teaching creative skills, which can reduce waste and increase resourcefulness.

Its latest initiative, Resourceful Otautahi, hosts the only New Zealand workshop specialising in greenwood and aims to encourage the public to use local materials for traditional crafts such as spoon-carving, basket-weaving and furniture-making.

“Being able to make what we need from what we have — is something we all need to feel confident in,” Rekindle founder, Juliet Arnott said.

She sees the sharing of traditional craft skills as “still highly relevant today because they make the most of available local resources.”

Second-year students from Lincoln’s bachelor of landscape architecture course have taken part in one of the workshops, which involved making greenwood stools.

Lecturer, Jess Rae, said the Rekindle workshops gave the students a chance to learn about the tangible qualities of wood.

“Materials tell stories — we can see where the material is from, how it has been used and cared for and what it adds to a space.

“I have walked under those oak trees for years on my way through campus. To see them be made into something useful, to be used for teaching and to achieve a second or possibly third life on campus reflects the value that they hold.”