13 December 1996

Sticklers for sticks from wood & horn

BOB Griff Jones and Meurig Owen have pooled their skills to produce a book* which explains how to make ornate but practical sticks for shepherding, for leaning on in the market place or for walking, and gives an insight into the life of the stickmaker too.

That stickmaker is Bob himself. A former shepherd and sheepdog trialist, Bob is also a skilled woodcarver. He has won awards and produced awards with his woodcarving. An example of the latter is the Cledwyn Roberts memorial trophy which is awarded annually for the best lyric/poem in the Radio Cymru series Talwen y Beirdd.

Bob reckons he absorbed a lot of his craft while working with his grandfather as a young lad. His father too was a skilled woodworker and before he settled to farming had travelled from farm-to-farm doing whatever was needed. A farm cart he made is pictured in the book, taken when the horse and vehicle won a turnout class at Meirioneth County Show.

A good stick needs horn as well as wood these days, though, says Bob, before the second world war horned handles were unknown in his part of the world. While there were plenty of good horns available in the 50s when Bob took up the craft nowadays, with so many polled rams, finding suitable horn can be difficult. AR

*Ways with hazel and horn by Bob Griff Jones and Meurig Owen, Carreg Gwalch (£3.95).