Karen Hansen
Karen Hansen home | ethics | work | news | workshops | contact
courses | about | booking  


West Dorsettinyhouse

Do you dream of building your own home and wonder about off-grid living? Then join us for a two-week practical course in West Dorset.

In this hands-on course we will build a small house structure in local timber and make it weatherproof using corrugated roofing, natural-fibre insulation, and wooden cladding.

You will have a go at the various tasks involved in studwork, insulation, fitting windows and doors, cladding and roofing. You will be guided in the use of both hand and power tools. Alongside the building work we will talk about the design process and reflect on how you might decide to build your own. The course intends to build your skillset in no-waste production of affordable housing – while you have a good time. Everyone can do it.

By the end of the course participants will have explored all the basic elements of creating a tiny house, including:

  • Basic building design and understanding the advantages of different layouts
  • Building a simple studframe for a building that fits a 2.5 m x 5.4 m trailer.
  • Sourcing and installing cladding and insulation
  • Sourcing and Installing windows and doors
  • Building a simple roof
  • Using hand and powertools safely and working as a team.
  • Making informed choices about power and energy systems.

As a part of the course special guests will deliver sessions on issues around sustainable Tinyhouse living such as energy and water-use, planning and community building. Guests include:

Victor Crutchley will take us for a walk through his woods at North Eggardon Farm. He will talk about the diversity of the woodland environment, his way of growing trees for timber and explain what is involved in timber processing. www.northeggardoncarthouse.co.uk

Pat Bowcock from Ourganics – Evolving Systems will share experiences from her life in off- grid permaculture. Pat is one of the leading lights in permaculture design teaching and is a great guide in the principals of People Care, Fair Share and Earth Care. www.learnpermaculture.com/ourganics-evolving-systems

Chris Rudge who since 2006 has advised and installed Off Grid power for people and organisations in need of it, will share his knowledge on various sustainable energy systems to heat and power your Tinyhouse. www.offgridsystems.co.uk

The course is run in collaboration with Tim Crabtree of Dorset Woodhub and Wessex Community Assets (WCA)and is part of the Raise the Roof project. It will be led by designer, maker and constructor Karen Hansen.

Karen Hansen has worked in design and make with natural materials in West Dorset for 25 years and her experience in construction is based on carpentry, traditional timber-framing and strawbale building. After reconnecting with her danish roots she now works with material culture in education and to establish communal work practices that enable local action for sustainable living. The structure is built to her design and she is covering all material cost involved. www.karenhansen.co.uk

The practical details

The day program will run from 9.30 – 17.00 and be at a pace where you can both be active and have time to reflect.

Week 1: 26-30. July with guest speaker Victor Cruthcley and Pat Bowcock

  • You will learn about the woodland environment and be introduced to timber growing and selection for construction uses.
  • We will make the panel structures for the house, erect them and carry on with the roof.
  • We hope to celebrate with a topping out ceremony.

Week 2: 23-27. August with guest speaker Chris Rudge and Pat Bowcock

  • You will learn about sustainable material choices and consider circular economic solutions.
  • We will install the windows and doors and the structure will be insulated and made weatherproof.
  • We will line the interior, making it ready for fitting out and talk about energy systems to run the home.
  • We will celebrate and relax.

Course Fee

The course fee is £720 for both weeks and will cover lunch and all tools and building materials. You also have the option to join us for a single week at £420. We recommend you come equipped with safety boots.

To apply, please email training@wessexca.co.uk

Places are limited, but feel free to get in touch even if you can’t afford the fee. We are working at finding ways to offer bursaries.

Site and Accommodation

The course will take place in Nettlecombe near Powerstock.

You can camp for free in the nearby cider orchard. Alternatively, you can choose to pay to stay at Ourganics in Litton Cheney (hot showers, kitchen facilities) or in one of the Shepherds huts at North Eggardon Farm. Please enquire for further details: training@wessexca.co.uk


WCA was founded in 2005 and is a community benefit society run by locally-based practitioners who help social enterprises in Devon, Dorset and Somerset to access land, finance and other resources. It was a key organisation in the development of community land trusts in the UK and has supported over 100 community enterprises in fields such as local food, renewable energy, employment workspace and affordable housing. The focus is now develop a training programme in sustainable construction, that will enable people to engage in the design and practical building of their own homes.

This course is run as a follow on from the Tiny House Course of 2020 which was held at North Eggardon Farm. 14 Dorset based unemployed  people who was offered free training in sustainable construction joined forces with the tutors Karen Hansen, James McLellan and Victor Cructhley to build a Tiny house which is now on its way to be erected as a dwelling for a homeless person in Somerset. 

Tim Crabtree- developer of research and innovation within WCA is coordinating the Raise the Roof partnership with Common GroundThe Arts Development CompanyDorset Woodhub and Bridport Town Council, and the project was fortunate to secure funding from the Golden Bottle Trust, Dorset AONB and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (the latter provided funds from the Education & Skills Funding Agency matched by the European Social Fund) to start off  the process of prototyping initial designs and testing local supply chains. www.wessexca.co.uk/2020/11/raise-the-roof. The Raise the Roof project are developing further pilot projects and training programmes which are under way for later in the year. www.raisetheroof.info


Sydhavn Genbrugscenter, Åbenskole, København133905 crop s

Hvor kommer materialerne fra og hvor er de på vej hen.

Turen til Testlaboratoriet på Sydhavns Genbrugscenter vil engagere eleverne i leg og forståelse for ressource-forløb og miljø og give mulighed for at udforske hvordan tingene hænger sammen. I deres undersøgelser af materialer og ting, finder eleverne ud af hvorfor noget er værdifuldt.

Ud fra opdagelserne på laboratoriet arbejder eleverne i grupper og vælger et specifikt materiale de synes er specielt interessant. Med viden og fantasi fremstiller de skitser, design og modeller, der viser hvordan materialet blev til, hvad det har haft af oplevelser og hvorfor det er havnet på genbrugscenteret.

I samarbejde og ved brug af værktøjer og genbrugsmaterialer, fremstiller hver gruppe et rejsepas og bygger en kuffert, der rummer deres fortællinger i modeller, billeder og ord.

Dagens arbejde veksler mellem dialog, gruppeøvelser og refleksioner i plenum og der er rige muligheder for at arbejde videre med pas, kuffert og indhold hjemme på skolen, sammen med andre elever og fagemner.

Læringsmål: materiale kendskab og bearbejdning, visuelt udtryk af ide og betydning, udtryk og fortolkning af tema i tale, skrift, billede og form.

Karen har erfaring med at undervise elever i både almene og specialgrupper og programmet kan tilpasses elevgruppens behov. Vi snakker om forberedelser og forudsætninger forud for forløbet. Kontakt: kamahans@yahoo.com

Forløbets længde: 4 timer fra 9.30 – 13.30.  Okt. 2020 – Juni 2021

Kom i arbejdstøj og med plads til materiale, pas og kuffert.



Workshop at Thorncombe Wood

MAKE a seat from a Thorncombe tree. tools-Make-a-seat-workshop-web

Using green wood techniques and wood from Thorncombe Wood you will be working through selection, cleaving, shaping, carving, sawing and drilling to make a stool.

All tools and materials are provided and you don’t need any previous experience. Please come prepared with clothes suitable for the weather and closed footwear for your own safety.

The work will be suitable for any adult individual who is physically able. Children of 10 years or more can be included if they work with an adult friend.

Please book via the ranger team at The Hardy Visitors Centre Thorncombe

Tel: 01305 251228 or email: hardysbirthplace@dorset.gov.uk


The workshop is run as part of MAKING DORSET and takes place over two days.

Saturday 26 May and Saturday 2 June from 10am – 4pm.

Fee : Single adult £ 110 , Child with adult £ 130




The Polecarving workshop will this autumn take place at the beautiful Trill Farm.

Trill Farm is a 300 acre mixed organic farm set in the rolling hills and woodlands of east Devon. The Farm is an education centre and community of small businesses that work together to use the land’s resources to promote health and sustainable living.

Please see details at TRILL FARM


totem listen
Should you be interested in learning how to carve and spend a few days working on you own pole project then please get in touch. I don’t set dates for the year but try and fit teaching days in alongside my commission work.The course details and costs are still as described below.I am happy to discuss any custom made course options or individual or group sessions.Hope to see you and your friends and family in 2017.

Best wishes



Please see details below.



“Totem poles are associated with the Native americans living in the richly forested environment of the Pacific Northwest coast of the Americas. They were a civilization with an elaborate social and ceremonial structure and with traditions going back to the beginning of time. These peoples understanding of the connections between all living things and their dependence on certain animal and plant species fostered beliefs in the super natural and the spirit world and by telling their stories through dancing, singing and visual expression, they developed richly artistic traditions. “”The function of totem poles varied among the different peoples, but overall they were historical monuments, or documents of great meaning and value to the cultures that carved them. The poles displayed images that represented a people’s origin and lineages, their rights and privileges, their supernatural experiences, their exploits and achievements, their marriages and memorials.”

Karen Hansen

To walk with giants you first have to find your own way. We give you the opportunity to step out and experiment with your hands and minds to carve out your own mark in time – People from all corners of the earth have done so since first discovering tools and will do so long into the future. Expressing your connections to life you will be carving a personal story pole for celebration or in memory of anything that is important or fun.



We provide the materials sourced from local woodlands and all the tools you need. Courses will give experienced guidance to both beginners and improvers of most ages.

Based on a brief introduction to the history and symbolism of masks and grotesques we will be working up your own design and set it out on a fresh green log.Working with gauges and the techniques involved in cutting low and deep relief in the half round, you will come away with a fantastic image telling the story of your imagination.
Exploring images and totems that have relevance to your life, history and environment you will be guided through drawing up your design ready for setting out on to your prepared Sweet Chestnut pole. We will work through the techniques involved in carving low and deep relief in the round and you will become familiar with the appropriate selection of tools for the job.The course is intended to be creative and enjoyable and whether you decide to do simple shapes, carve something from nature or a caricature of yourself – you will come away with an experience in 3D carving and a small pole, which could become a welcoming gesture to your visitor or a garden feature to inspire discussion.
The three day course will give you a chance to learn more about the appropriate tool care and sharpening techniques which will enable you to carry on carving in your own time. You are welcome to bring any carving tools you might have.
(Minimum age 11)This is your chance to create the family crest or celebration pole by working on a communal carving. You will draw and design the elements of your choosing and transfer the images onto a prepared pole. Depending on how many of you are working together we will either divide the pole into segments for later assembly or work the pole as a whole. You will be instructed in the use of gouges and shown the techniques of relief carving. We will finally make use of colour to emphasise the features in your story.
You will have the opportunity to carve an image of your choice on to a small block of wood. Bring your own ideas or take inspiration from a simple leaf or natural pattern. Wood, tools and refreshments provided.




Totem carving

Totem carving with tool care and sharpening

Masks & Grotesques

* 3 day courses start at 2pm on the first day
All other days run from 9.30 – 17.00

Download & print the booking form to sign up

For more course details please contact Karen Hansen
Tel: 01935 83580


Working with wood in carving takes a little patience and perseverance and the intention is to give you a chance to have some serious fun in a relaxed setting. You will be spending your time in a sheltered spot in the lee of the Evershot hills, where we will be working in a lovely tucked away barn. We will provide a simple lunch for your enjoyment and stop for breaks around the fire – keeping the kettle warm.

Gift certificate
Gift certificates for the carving courses are available throughout the year and can be purchased for any amount you nominate. They make a greatly appreciated birthday or Christmas gift for someone – to have a go- and you might even be able to share the enjoyment of the end result.

Custom made courses
We are able to facilitate special requests for individuals or groups and happy to discuss any projects you would like to see happen.



© 2008 - 2019 All works copyright Karen Hansen | Admin