Saturday, 8 February 2014

Saturday 8th February

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while may remember that this is a special time of the year for me – it’s the Six Nations Rugby competition. I really like sport but don’t actually follow any. Following sport requires consistency and routine – something which I struggle to find in my rather hectic life. I would love to be able to buy a season ticket for rugby or football but I can’t commit myself to having the required time available and I’m sure I would end up wasting a large percentage of the tickets. And I’ve tried doing it half-heartedly, just ’dipping my toe’ into the odd game, so to speak,  but it doesn’t quite work – for me there seems to be a certain degree of obsession or infatuation required to get full enjoyment from it – I need to be fully immersed. There’s nothing worse than trying to be part of a sports conversation at work when you don’t really know exactly what you’re talking about because you haven’t been following the sport avidly, especially when the others in the conversation are committed obsessives. Which means I confine myself to those sporting competitions that have a finite time scale to them  - the Olympics, the ashes, Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the Football World Cup, and especially the Rugby World Cup and The Six Nations. There is very little I enjoy more than setting myself up in front of the TV, a couple of billets of spoon wood, my bag of knives, axes and templates and my chopping block to watch/listen to an international rugby game and carve a spoon or two.

So, here is my first offering for this year’s Rugby Six Nations spoon carving effort – it’s not one that I am particularly proud of, in fact I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it yet. It’s a little different and had to be due to the shape and size of the wood I began with. I think it is a piece of laurel, but am not sure as it has been lying in my scrap pile, waiting to be thrown onto the fire for several months now. It just so happens that each time I walk past my pile of fire wood, my attention has for some reason been drawn to this little bit of wood so last weekend I thought I would rescue it and see what I could make from it. 
"Why would take pity on such a puny and pathetic little bit of scrap wood?" I hear you say. I guess I'm just a hopeless sentimentalist.
It was already curved, as you can see, so I thought it would lend itself quite naturally to some kind of scoop, which in effect is what I ended up with. So what is it? Well, it’s a kind of serving spoon cum scoop cum Chinese soup spoon cum shoe horn. It’s about the right size for dishing up peas and I thought looked kind of old-world Scandinavian?

Hanging hook on the back so it can be neatly perched on the edge of your bowl.
Of course, that's not all I've been doing. I wanted to have a go at doing a few spoons in the same design (I've done this before and it's a really good discipline) so here are a few mid production.
There's been some talk on a couple of site regarding the order in which we carve the various parts and stages of a spoon - here you can see that I get a fairly finished outer line before I begin to carve out the bowl.

 These are all from locally sourced ash. I plan to make a hanging rack for them too.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Ash eating spoon

This weekend's carving didn't begin too well. I guess I was a little over-zealous with the axe.
So I started over and was a lot happier with take 2.

It was a lovely bit of fresh ash, split clean and carved nicely. I decided to do a bit of kolrossing on the handle, some traditional 'love-token' type designs that I'd copied from some scrimshaw. Not as easy as I'd hoped it would be, but all in all not too bad either. I used cinnamon first but it didn't really take the colour, so I tried again with gravy browning, which I'd had good results with previously. This worked but, as you can see, it seeped into the grain a little too, which kind of blurs the image a bit. Needs oiling now.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Eugen Manisor MkII

Although Eugen sent me some photos of spoons he had made previously, the spoon below was made specifically for the 52 Spoons blog - so this is its grand unveiling.

The wood is cherry, I believe, and it's a lovely organic shape, with a nice bit of kolrossing handle design. Sorry, for some reason the picture quality isn't very good, however, visit Eugen's blog for more and in better quality.

Eugen also sent me some lovely pictures of some knives he has recently finished making. Check them out on his blog too:

The Walnut Question....?

After posting last weeks photographs of Lujan's spoons I had a few people ask about her method of polishing using a walnut. I passed those questions on to her and this was her reply:

"I use 'walnut polishing' with kitchen wooden stuff because its natural which ensures that there would be nothing toxic in your spoons.
I do like this: I brake a walnut in some pieces, put them in a piece of cloth, make a twist in the fabric, and finally rub on the wood surface making pressure so the oil pass through the fabric.
The walnut oil will deepen the grain colour wood.
Just like that!"
Sounds like a very natural and traditional method of oiling. Give it a try - let me know how you get on.
I don't wish to be patronizing - I know everyone knows what a walnut looks like, but I just felt the post needed a picture!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Lujan Vernieri - Patagonia, Argentina

The thing I have found most gratifying about the last year of blogging is to learn how a shared interest, such as green woodworking or spoon carving, is a bridge that through the miracle of the internet spans the world, bringing otherwise distant people and places right into my sitting room. Without wishing to sound too sad or pitiable, like most other people I am very busy and don't have a lot of time for friendship, but spoon carving has brought more friends, from more countries, than I could ever have imagined. And to prove that point, here are the beautiful spoons of my newest friend, Lujan Vernieri.

Lujan lives in Trelew, Chubut, Patagonian Argentina.

This little scoop looks more like a kuksa, but you will see by comparison to the cork beside it that it is actually more like a coffee scoop in size. It is carved from Radal, which grows naturally in  Cordillera Andina, 800 KM from where Lujan lives and was an offcut from a carving workshop.

This is another small scoop carved in CEREJEIRA, which is an indigenous wood of Brazil. Lujan calls this her "little eggy spoon" and it was made from the front panel of an old draw. Cerejeira is similar to oak and has a rich tannin aroma.

This beautiful serving spoon is also made from Radal, and was originally longer in the handle, but it broke when Lujan tried to put hole through it, which must have been serendipity as it looks perfect as it is.

This spoon is carved in Lenga and is one of Lujan's favourites. It has a knot in the handle and was finally polished with a walnut, which I presume deepens the colour and oils at the same time.

This lovely scoop, which was Lujan's first spoon, is made from Algarrobo wood and was an offcut from some bunk beds which were then converted into single beds for her children. I think this kind of back story really adds value to a spoon.

This cooking spoon is carved in Paraiso and has a simple but aesthetically appealing form. Lujan said that it took a lot of patience to ensure the regularity of the long handle.

Lujan says that this spatula, carved in Lenga, is just a practice piece and that she was not very happy with the results as she found carving a knot particularly difficult. I think she's being hard on herself and would be very proud to have carved it.

This spoon, carved in Radal wood, is an example of one of those spoons that we should have thrown away before going too far with it, due to the knot in the handle but which, once persevered with and finished, we love all the more for it being there. This spoon is also polished with a walnut.

The background fabric for all Lujan's photos is call aguayo and is a tradition cloth woven and used in the Northern Argentina, Bolivia and Peru and is used by the women in those countries to tie their babies to their backs.
Thanks Lujan for sharing your spoons with us - they are beautiful!

Now, if you are reading this post and you yourself carve spoons, then take the plunge - send me an email with a couple of photos of perhaps your favourite spoon, or your most recent or unusual spoon and tell me a little about yourself.

Email photos to:


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Eugen Manisor - Romania

Eugen has been commenting on my blog for some time now so it was particularly nice when he responded immediately to my request for photographs of work to feature on the blog.

Eugen is a teacher from Romania where there is a strong tradition of spoon carving and, as you can see from Eugen's examples, the tradition is alive and kicking. Many of you will already be aware of the films on Youtube of Ion Constantin, a Romanian carver who inspired many of Britain's most established carvers, so it is nice to have these offerings from Eugen.

Alder - captured rings



Lilac - love the paw print!

Thanks Eugen - keep it up and send us your new work to have a look at.

If you are interested in a nice little video showing Ion Constantin carving a spoon, try here:

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Plan for 2014

Thanks to all of you who commented so positively on my most recent post, for all of you who have followed throughout 2013 (and for your comments and suggestions through the year) and for being as crazy as I am about/for carving spoons.

The fact is, I can't stop now. I don't know how long I can commit to carving on a weekly basis, even though I would love to and fully intend continuing this year. So, thanks to Rob who came up with this suggestion: from now on, as well as posting my own spoons, I would like you to send me pictures and regular updates of your spoon carving projects and I will include those as well. I'm not a blogger genius so thought the most straightforward way of doing it would be for you to send pictures and a little info to the following email address:

and I will feature one a week in addition to my own efforts. Don't be shy, don't worry if you are a novice or a veteran. Let's learn and grow together - sorry, that's the teacher in me coming out.

So, get carving, get snapping and lets get spooning in 2014!

Ash cooking spoon