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Workshops north of Amsterdam


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What could be more iconic than taking a miniature workshop in a beautiful classroom in Holland while looking out the window across a field to see a windmill turning in the breeze? Tree Beertema runs a few workshops each year at Unicorna in Ursem, The Netherlands just north of Amsterdam. For 2014 her instructors include Jens Torp, David Hurly, Penny Thomson and Paul Wells.

Here is the schedule


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Indeed, Trees' place is in a fantastic location! And not only are her facilities perfect with a spacious class room opening up on to fields, her cooking is wonderful too! Never a coffee break without a treat and her lunches spoiled the intestines every single time!


I've been there a few times and the latest class I took there was the bone chest taught by Bill Robertson. I was very pleased to see he was coming to the Netherlands to teach, knowing how his classes in Castine and Tune always fill up quickly. This bone chest, that was also on the role in Castine in 2013 was a very interesting class, because it held many facets . 


There was the aspect of working with cow bone. The chest was made up of self made sheets of bone, so working the bone (cutting and thinning) gave all the chance to get a feel for the medium. Joinery included dovetails and I did notice a big difference in cutting them out, compared with cutting them in wood. The bone is much finer and harder so i found it relatively easier to do.




There was also a lot of strapping involved too, which meant working with metal. Doing time cutting with the jewelers say, shaping the decorative flowers or fleur de lis with files, bending and shaping the straps using heat to soften the metal. Lots of treatments were covered so that part of the build was a great practice to learn (new) skills or to rediscovery them again.




Best part for me was the adding of a real working lock. Bill had already pre milled out some parts but we were left with building the internal mechanism ourselves. Again a very useful thing to learn and to bring home with you. It was an intense class so not all got a chance to finish and install it in time. Fortunately i grasped the final instruction to make the closing latch so I finished mine.








I think the best thing about this class was that, no matter what skill level you were, you'd come home with a lot of practice ánd neat little trunk. It was obvious every student in class had different skill levels in the various media but still all chests turned out great. I liked it this variation was very visible which gave each their own personality. 














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A wonderful class indeed, after I come home from Castine I practised a bit of working with old Ivory and made this shaving set. I enjoyed working with the Ivory, that tiny blade was difficult to make, it is so small, still need to hone my metal skills...practice, practise...


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Thank you for all your kind words…. it was a lot of fun. Here is what the classroom looks like…...



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  • 1 year later...

oh... so fun to find Debora's photos of the bone chest this morning.  :P That did it, now I definitely want to take this class too!



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