Nick Kary Maker

Material – The Alchemy of Making

Material – The Alchemy of Making

With Nick Kary, Jessie Watson Brown, Elizabeth Crawford and Mac Macartney

Do you long for a deeper connection between your hands and the land beneath your feet, to feel as though you truly belong to a certain place and be in harmony with the natural forces that run through it? Do you wonder what it really feels like to be fully human, to understand how our ancestors lived and worked in synergy with the world around them? Do you yearn to co-create beautiful things that honour the world around you, to find the wild and ancient beating heart of the maker within?

This is a gathering of humans on a piece of land, looking for our relationship and belonging to it, through our own creative ability to transform its generous bounty and beauty into objects of use. In doing so we will hope to observe the transformation of ourselves and the recovery and remembering of a little of our own innate human wildness.

Join us for these 5 days in which we will live in a simple camp, working with the materials of the land – the plants, trees, animals – and exploring our own relationships to them. We will uncover their primary nature, their stories and ours, and look for the threads that bind us together.

Among the many things that we will be making, both visible and invisible, you can expect to be exploring and delving deep into the plant layer of this land to find materials and methods for transforming plants into woven objects of beauty, you will be working with fish skins and tanning methods, and you will be working in the woods, seeking to make objects of use from the wood that is offered by the land.

These are the five-fold stages of our transformation:

  • The land,
  • the harvest we take from it,
  • the materials we create through this,
  • the processes we engage with through making,
  • and the objects we produce.

We will investigate and experiment with the following thoughts, among many others:

How we take for granted the objects we buy, how often we don’t make connections to their provenance or to the damage caused by the extraction of the materials they use.

The Earth from which these Materials are birthed, and which provides us with everything we need, but to which we show little respect,

The stories of our ancestors developing hand skills and language through making objects necessary for their survival communally,

Inspiration and nourishment for the makers within ourselves who are often dormant, reliant on mass-produced things,

Objects with stories carry the power of memory, and when rooted in us have so much more power.

Key information:

12 – 16 July 2021

Residential course based in Devon, at Embercombe

Accommodation is at Embercombe in our yurt village or selection of vintage glamping caravans

FEE: £525 includes accommodation and food.
Limited bursary places of £350 are available: apply here.

Nick Kary Maker

Natural Materials


What will you learn?

  • To relate to place through what grows there, or from the soil it grows on.
  • To transform these raw ingredients into materials of the human dimension.
  • Through this process to gain a deeper understanding of the transformative union of ourselves and nature
  • To develop a deeper awareness of our power and our danger
  • To make some objects: a stool from wood we will harvest, a purse from fish skin tanned with tree bark, and explore foraged hedgerow basketry

Who is it for?

For anyone who has ever longed to make with, to communicate and transform with, the primary material and the place around them.
No previous experience required.

Alchemist Makers

Nick Kary

Nick Kary

For nearly four decades Nick has worked to commission making fine, distinctive furniture and cabinets from wood, most of it sourced near his home, in the counties of South West England. During this time, he has been both a teacher and a student; one who is fascinated with the philosophy and practice of craft work of all kinds. Over the last 10 years he has split his time between making, teaching and writing. He is a visiting lecturer at the Schumacher College in Devon and an associate lecturer at Plymouth University. He also runs furniture making workshops at The Brake creative centre in South Devon that he runs with his wife Dolly. They have both been involved with Embercombe since its inception over 20 year ago. His book MATERIAL- Making and the Art of Transformation is his first published work and expresses his love and interest in the relationship between humans and the natural world through our inclination to make.

Jessie Watson Brown

Jessie Watson Brown

Jessie is on a path of rewilding, reconnecting, reskilling and remembering. Weaving together a love of making and crafting using natural materials, with immersing herself in the natural world and learning what it might mean to live as a human on this earth. She works running camps, facilitates on various nature-based programmes and in the winter plants thousands of trees. She currently lives in a land-based community on Dartmoor, and feels most at home among the granite and moss.

Elizabeth Crawford

Elizabeth Crawford

Elizabeth’s work revolves around plants and our essential human relationships with them. She is a basket maker, working primarily in mixed, locally harvested materials, and has been teaching about and practicing herbal medicine for 7 years. A keen forager and grower, Elizabeth is interested in what the plants have to teach us as well as in their myriad uses as materials, foods and medicines. Through creative, sensory experiences in nature she hopes to inspire others to find belonging on the land and in their bodies within a wild and changing world. She lives in a land based co-operative in South Devon.

Mac Macartney

Mac Macartney

As the founder of Embercombe, Mac is closely connected with this land, it’s plants, animals, earth and water. He holds the fire at the centre of everything we do and his story-telling of the recent and ancient history of this place, help us to see ourselves as humans within a wider field of landscape. As an amateur maker of many beautiful things, Mac will be weaving in and out of our time together on Material Camp.

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