MINE OAK

The Whittlings x Soup Creative x Jwrnal

Blaenau Ffestiniog. November 2018. Cold and Wet (Wales).

A few weeks ago, Stew and Olivia aka Soup Creative, David aka The Whittlings and I went on an adventure. With guidance from Phil, we ventured up to a mile deep beneath the Blaenau Ffestiniog mountains.

Why? In search for Mine Oak.

Here’s what happened:

Over 100 years ago, Oak and Steel were taken into the slate mines of North Wales to build the infrastructure for removing slate. Long abandoned, the steel rusted into the underground streams and the oak slowly naturally darkened and grew dense in the iron-rich water.

David has salvaged some of this amazing material from deep in the mines and made functional objects from the Mine Oak. 

David’s collection of functional objects made from Mine Oak are o are strongly inspired by the industry of the mines and by the hard lives of the thousands of miners and quarrymen that worked in the Welsh slate industry. His collection is on show at Oriel Davies x Jwrnal CREU//MAKE exhibition. There you will find:

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‘The Bargain Gang’

Welsh Slate workers teamed up in partnerships of five called ‘Bargain Gangs’, where they would make monthly agreements with the owners over where they would work and what they would be paid each month. Two rockmen, a splitter, a dresser and a rybelwr (a boy learning the trade). 

‘Caban’

The caban, was a cabin or underground room, where slate miners gathered for their lunch break. It was often the scene of wide-ranging discussions, song and poetry. 

‘The Forgotten’

Blaenau Ffestiniog was one of the two main centres of the slate industry in Wales. At the peak of the slate industry, the town had a population of over eleven thousand people, mainly employed in the slate industry. The town now has a population of under five thousand. 

‘Cawl Spoon’
Cawl in modern Welsh the word is used to refer to any soup or broth. In English, the word is used to refer to a traditional Welsh soup with lamb or beef with leeks, potatoes, swedes, carrots and other seasonal vegetables.

‘The miner Family’ Cawl spoons

Slate mining families lived in small slate terrace houses, where the men often had long walks to and from the house to the mine or quarry. Boys often worked in the mine, learning the trade or pushing the slate trolleys in the dark. 

David White, the Whittlings.

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The final edit of our Mine Oak adventure will be released later this month. Keep an eye out to see more, and to find out where this project of filming makers is heading.

 The Team! From the left: David, Stew + Olivia

The Team! From the left: David, Stew + Olivia

David is a whittler. He eats, sleeps and breathes wood (almost).

Soup create stories through film + animation. They will make any excuse to go on an adventure.