Posted on: 13th October 2017

As summer merges into autumn there is one event that is marked in the calendar of many a carpenter.  Every year the Carpenters Fellowship organise an event called Frame.  A weekend of wood craft and design, Frame is open to both members of the fellowship and the public.  The Carpenters Fellowship is an organisation devoted to the study and practice of timber frame construction.  Its welcoming community offers access to courses, workshops and publications. 

For several years, Frame has been held at St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff.  The Museum was established in 1948 with a purpose of rescuing, reconstructing and restoring historical buildings.  Each building has been painstakingly removed from its original site and reconstructed amongst the beautiful museum grounds and ancient woodland.  The buildings represent a realistic interpretation of how people lived and worked in Wales up to and including the 20th Century. 

This family friendly event welcomes several of Carpenter Oak’s carpenters and their families each year, who get involved with demonstrations and lectures throughout the weekend.  The event offers an opportunity to share and learn skills and knowledge, from spoon making to ground breaking architectural design, all based around wood craft and design.  Members of the public can experience traditional timber framing techniques, axe throwing, complex roof layouts, cleaving, wood with unusual properties and the firing of a medieval style trebuchet.  Children can even build a miniature oak frame house in the form of ‘Astrid’s House’, a project by Touchwood Southwest.  There are also various other activities aimed at children allowing room for adults to talk to the experts. 

The weekend is an educational and inspiring experience, one that myself and family have enjoyed for several years.  Being amongst people who are enthusiastic about history, design, architecture and working with wood opens up a wealth of knowledge that people are only too happy to share at any level.  My son (9) spent almost an entire day building a miniature timber framed house whilst making new friends and learning maths and history in the process.  I went to a lecture on ‘Advanced Fabrication and Experimental Architecture’ whilst my daughter (4) enjoyed viewing the photographs during the lecture whilst (much to the amazement of the lecturer) drawing some pictures under the light of the screen.  Don was also busy giving scribing demonstrations.  My son also made a wooden keyring and my daughter a bird.  We all reconvened in the afternoon for ice cream whilst learning about cold-bendTM, a compressed solid hardwood that can be bent without steaming.

 

On previous visits to St Fagans we have toured the museum, learning about how Welsh families lived throughout different periods, including their different design, architectural and build methods.  As a working museum, there are traditional crafts people demonstrating their craft and selling their products.  On this particular visit a blacksmith and clog maker were in residence.  On previous visits there has been a potter and candle maker. 

For anyone interested in timber framing or carpentry, Frame offers a great introduction to craftsmanship and some of the best crafts people around.  If you are thinking of your own self build project there is nothing more inspiring than a trip through history to deepen your appreciation and understanding of the elements you may want to include in your own home.  Alternatively, just experience St Fagans and enjoy a great day out with your family and friends.   

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