“The aim of all our workshops is to encourage fellow illustrators, designers and other creative folks to get away from their computer screens and tablet and spend a day in the woods learning about nature and making things with traditional tools in a relaxed creative environment,” says Andrew Groves, the illustrator and designer turned woodsman who founded Miscellaneous Adventures in 2012 – later joined by his wife, the illustrator Emma Hughes.
In the summer of 2013, I met Groves at the couple’s woodland barn near Wiston in the West Sussex countryside and wrote about the workshops he was hosting and the beautiful wooden products he was making (the article is here).
Recently, the company has streamlined their production methods a little, “so we can make our products more consistent and accessible to a wider audience,” says Groves and has switched to working with a different species of timber: Beech (fagus sylvatica).
“We feel [it] better suits our cleaner approach,” says Groves. “Beech is a really interesting species as it has naturally anti-bacterial properties which is obviously ideal for food based applications and also fits with our ethos of working with nature and spreading the word about the incredible little bits of magic occurring in the natural world every day that most people are unaware of.”
In addition to a range of new products, MA is also launching some new workshops. Alongside the original Woodland Woodcarving Workshop, there’s now a Winter Camp Skills day and a two day axe craft workshop entitled Axcellent Adventure.
“Since I moved to a woodland barn a few years ago I’ve used an axe on a nearly daily basis and I’ve learnt what an incredibly useful tool it can be,” says Groves.
“I’ve also learnt so much about nature, trees and wood as a material through using one and want to share some of my knowledge with others. As a brand that focuses on creativity in the great outdoors, we’ve seen axes get more popular as US outdoor brands like Best Made Co. and others have made them appealing aesthetically.”
Groves also cites the popularity of “the creative outdoor scene” and the emergence of brands such as Poler Stuff and books like The Outsiders (Gestalten) and Cabin Porn (Particular) as meaning more and more people are getting hold of axes for the first time – and not necessarily knowing how to use them properly.
“This could be damaging to the environment and themselves, so we want to show people how to use them in a responsible way without taking the fun out of it,” says Groves.
“The course is set over two days and we’ll be teaching people to fell trees, limb them and spilt them into logs for firewood. We’ll be cooking up campfire cuisine and camping among the trees. It’s a real opportunity to experience authentic outdoor living first hand and hopefully leave a little more enlightened than when you arrived.”
More details on Miscellaneous Adventures’ workshops, here, while their shop is here. A percentage of sales from wooden items is donated to The Woodland Trust, Trees for Life and Surfers Against Sewage.