Manchester spoon carving workshop makes it to final of national Eventbrite competition

The contest celebrates some of the quirkiest and most unusual events which you can sign up for on the events platform.

A spoon carving workshop in Manchester has made it through to the national final of a competition run by Eventbrite to celebrate the quirkiest and most unusual events on its platform.

The sessions run by Stockport craftsman Steve Tomlin are among the dozen events that are in the last stage of the Most Curious and Colourful Events contest which has thousands of pounds as the first prize.

Eventbrite sifted through hundreds of events on its platform to come up with the finalists as it looks to celebrate the range of unique things to do across Britain that people can enjoy.

Steve spoke about his passion for bringing a long-established rural tradition into an urban setting and how the workshops appeal to a diverse range of people.

What is the Eventbrite competition and who is in the final?

Eventbrite’s Most Curious and Colourful Events competition is being run to find the most unusual things you can buy tickets for through the site, and hundreds of organisers took part in the contest.

The event was created in recognition of the tireless efforts of event organisers throughout and following the Covid-19 pandemic to keep putting on things for people to do and maintaining community connections. The competition celebrates the wide diversity of events that can be found on Eventbrite, especially those that could be described as unusual, unique, alternative, and even a little bit ‘out there’.

Spoon carvers creating their home-made kitchenware

Steve’s spoon carving workshop is one of 12 events still in the running for the first prize, with the competition including a workshop in Japanese paper marbling, underwater photo shoots, puppet making, nettle foraging, and scarecrow making.

The winning event, to be announced in November, will receive a £2,500 cash prize and £2,500 of Eventbrite fee credits to help it grow and bring more people together.

How did the spoon carving workshop end up in the final and what did Steve say about it?

The spoon carving workshop, which is run by 48-year-old Steve Tomlin from Heaton Norris, is a full day affair in which participants learn to use an axe and knives to shape fresh greenwood into an everyday object that they can use at home, a wooden spoon. It offers an ideal introduction to wood carving, a skill that few people still possess these days.

The competition organisers praised the way it brings a traditional craft usually more associated with countryside communities into the city. They also liked how hands-on the workshops are, how they bring people together, and how participants create unique, sustainable pieces of kitchenware that will be used and loved for years to come.

The workshops are a product of Steve’s long-held enthusiasm for working wood and craft and he says it is becoming increasingly popular with people living in urban settings.

Steve said: “I started teaching wood carving in 2003. It is a passion of mine, and I love sharing that passion with others. Over the years I’ve seen an explosion in popularity for spoon carving.

Steve Tomlin, who runs the spoon carving workshop

“Many of my students work in IT and tell me they want a break from their screens and to take up something practical, physical and that uses their hands. I think I’ve found a real niche in bringing rural countryside crafts into the city. It’s actually an ideal hobby for an urban setting as you can do it easily in your front room.”

Steve teaches groups of up to 10 people so he can be hands-on with his feedback. The students are a mix of male and female, and while years ago most workshop participants were over 55 he says he’s now finding younger people booking on as well.

He said: “In my most recent workshop I had a lot of people in their thirties, which was brilliant. I had a father and daughter come as they were looking for a fun way to spend some quality time together. Over the years I must have made thousands of spoons. I get just as much pleasure from each new one as I did with my first. I have a real passion for saving endangered crafts.”

As well as the spoon carving Steve also offers workshops in basket making and scything. He recently won a bursary from the Heritage Crafts Association to learn and teach an ancient form of basket weaving.

One attendee of the spoon carving workshop, Vicky Pickles, spoke glowingly about how much she had enjoyed it. She said: “I’m writing this as the proud owner of a slightly wonky but totally unique wooden spoon – a lovely reminder of a grand day of learning. It was a real joy to watch you at work and I marvelled at your woodworking skills, but soon realised they are matched by your commitment to motivate and train each participant according to needs and ability.

“It takes a true master to make both skills look so easy. The atmosphere around the room was soon relaxed and yet focused, and somehow there was even space for a bit of silliness and laughter.

“Looking closely, my spoon tells the story of tools in the hands of a beginner, of mistakes and sighs and calling you to the rescue, as well as priceless moments of getting about right for the first time.”

What did Eventbrite say about Steve’s spoon carving workshop?

Sebastian Boppert from Eventbrite said: “Among the wide variety of experiences on Eventbrite, the spoon carving workshop stood out for many reasons on top of being delightfully different. Steve keeps an ancient tradition alive through a fun, hands-on live experience that passes age old knowledge to an entirely new generation.

“And on top of that each workshop participant gets to take home a unique piece of kitchen hardware that they themselves have created that might just become a family heirloom. The workshops definitely deserve to be a finalist in the Most Curious & Colourful Events competition, and it’s a huge accolade to Steve to stand out from the vast number of events of all shapes and sizes we host on our platform all over the UK.”