Walking sticks can be made from wood or sheep's horns. The best wood comes from the burr wood and can be hand crafted and carved into many a fancy design. The stick class run by Drew Oliver in the village mainly concern themselves with sticks made from sheep horn. All the best sticks come from good horns.
Often there is the cry for an award for making a good stick from a bad horn.
The best horns come from “tups” or Cheviots tups but due to the new EUC rules concerning the maintenance and movement of cattle and sheep, good horns are now very hard to come by. So assuming you can acquire a good horn you will be all set for the classes.
The horn is first heated either by boiling in water or warmed by electric blower to make it pliable. It is then put into a vice and flattened. There then follows a very old and acquired skill of squeezing the horn up to make it available to be fashioned into the round waking stick shape. This is very difficult and the skill here is a much admired process that has been handed down for generations and is not easy to learn quickly. Thankfully Drew has the knowledge and is willing to pass it on.
Hours and hours of 'rasping' now follows until the stick is ready for its shank. Drew will keep you on the right, perfect, line with his MAGIC pen markings to follow until the job is complete.
All good shanks are of hazel but blackthorn and ash can be used. The shanks are usually cut between Oct and Feb, before the sap begins to rise, but an old saying still holds true, “When should you cut a likely shank? - when you see it”
Horn and shank are attached by fashioning a pin to the end of the shank and the trusty Araldite can be used if necessary.
Now all you have to do is get it smooth and round all over and add the final touch of some clear lacquer to complete the best stick in show, you hope.