Friday, 25 January 2013

SPOON # 4 - 25th January

Firstly, I thought I should include a picture to demonstrate my dedication to spoon carving. So, when everyone else, including my family, were wrapped up warm beside the fire during last week's snow storms, I was out in the garden roughing out spoon blanks - namely the spoon below.

This week's spoon is one of my all time favourites so far. There's just something about it that ticks (nearly) all the boxes for me. I like the proportions; I like the overall shape; I like the bevel on the bowl rim; I don't mind the carving on the handle. I particularly like how heavily cranked it is - by this I mean the curve from tip of handle, down along the stem, and through the bowl to the tip of the bowl. You can see it quite clearly on the side view. I just like spoons that are cranked, and this one is about at the limit you can achieve before turning it into a laddle, or making it impractical to use.


The only thing I don't like so much about it? Well, again, it's ash and so very blonde. That's not such a bad thing in and of itself, but for my personal tastes, I like wood with a little colour, just a blush of darkness perhaps. I'm kind of hoping it might colour up a bit with age and oiling - this one's not fully dried out and so won't take on oil properly yet. I'd thought I might like to paint it, if I had the right paint. I still might some time in the future.I think that would make the carving on the handle stand out more - you can barely see it on thses photos.

It's tiny, I know. My intention was to make one that can just slip in my pocket - a replacement for one I'd made previously but that got broken. One that I can take hiking and camping and backpacking and that won't take up too much space.

Couldn't find an egg cup so used one of my turned trinket boxes, sans lid

I thought it would be ideal for eating boiled egg, hence the pictures. I'm a fairly good cook, but I really do struggle with achieving a boiled egg with a soft yolk. Poached eggs? No problem - got my system down to a tee: once the water is boiling, crack in the egg, push down the toaster; once the toast pops, the egg's ready to come out - perfect semi runny yolk. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to practice.

Friday, 18 January 2013

SPOON # 3 - 18th Jan

Another ash spoon, again in what I consider to be something of a traditional or even medieval style. I've seen other spoons of this kind on the internet and quite like the simplicity of the overall design, contrasted with the unnecessarily ornate 'spade' shape of the bowl.

Not a great picture, I know, but I had to make the most of the snow -
 it doesn't last for long here in the UK.

The strange brown discoloration at the tip of the bowl is actually in the grain
of the wood and adds a bit of character, I think.

I'm not sure you can see it very well on the photo, but I have left a small swell
on the underside at the end of the handle, which makes it a little nicer in the hand - tactile too.

Again, as it's a 'working' spoon - it's about the size of an average serving spoon - I have left it with a tooled finish. The bowl is fairly shallow and I really quite like the chamfered edge on the bowl.

I haven't used the spoon yet, it needs a few more weeks of drying really, and a further oiling, but I imagine it would work very well. Although the pointed tip of the bowl could prove to be a double edged sword - great for getting into the corners of pots, pans and jars; maybe a weak point that could break off with use.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

SPOON # 2 - 12th Jan

Since this is the beginning of my journey through spoon carving, I thought I would begin with something traditional, utilitarian, every-day and that would be familiar to everyone - a kitchen spoon - what most people would be refering to when they talk about a wooden spoon.

I wanted to make something a little more interesting than your regular Wilkinsons wooden spoon so got onto the net and looked at images of medieval spoons. There are surprisingly many examples of medieval spoon styles - obviously most of those that survive are metal and a little more high-end than your average kitchen spoon, but there are some examples from ship wrecks, where the ocean bed has preserved the wood.

Anyway, the one I chose to make is not so much authentic medieval in design (or at least not to my certain knowledge - I'd love to hear about it if anyone knows otherwise) but it's a design I like. I have seen similar spoons made by other spoon carvers, most recently by the very talented Jon Mac on his blog. His are beautiful and done with more care and experience than mine. It's a design I have come to call 'floating bowl', for obvious reasons and mine is made from another fairly seasoned piece of ash which I reclaimed from my log pile as I feel quite protective about ash now and wouldn't want to simply burn it if I could use it for something more practical. Here it is - please ignore the mess in the background, leftovers from last night's supper party.

Originally I carved the word COOK into the handle but thought it looked wrong
so carved it back off - you can just see the trace of an O beneath the cross

As it was going to be a working spoon I purposely left the tool markes and didn't
sand. I think this adds interesting detail and evidence of the handmade nature of the spoon.

There has been some discussion over the past couple of weeks on Jarrod Stonedhal's blog about actually using the spoons that we make and our families' attitudes to them. Have a look here:

I think I have confessed before to the fact that, despite having been carving spoons for best part of a couple of years now, I haven't personally actually used any of my own spoons, either for cooking or eating. I decided to remedy that this morning by using this spoon to make porridge. It worked very well (as you might expect from a spoon).

I've always liked porridge, though the porridge I eat today is oddly different in texture from that my mum used to make for me. I use my wife's recipe which is quite simply oats, water and milk in a ratio of 1:1:1. I like to add golden syrup when I eat mine - sorry to any Scotish fundamentalists who think it should only be salted - but had none today so used maple syrup instead. And speaking of porridge, whilst I appreciate that it's not technically a spoon, I thought I might have a go at making one of the fiftytwo a spurtle.

So that's spoon number two. I might not make it to spoon number three as my wife has just looked over my shoulder and is horrified that I used photos that include last night's washing up. I thought it gave the pictures an interesting background - she doesn't. Oh well, it was nice knowing you!

Friday, 4 January 2013

SPOON # 1 - 4th January

Well, here we are - 2013 and as promised, here is the first of this year's 52 spoons.

I added a little 'up-sweep' at the end of the handle in the Swedish style
So here's the story of this spoon: I think it's willow. I cut it from a fallen tree (still alive) by the banks of the river Sence as it passes by the allotments at Crow Mill, South Wigston, Leicester. I felt quite naughty cutting the wood as the land nearby where it grew has recently had signs put up saying 'Private property, keep out' but there were no new fences or anything so I helped myself anyway. I didn't do any damage.

I was happy for this spoon to be my first for 2013 as it was carved from a natural crook. If you are a spoon carver you may be thinking, "so what, I've carved a million crooks?" Well, I have tried a few and they've never really worked out satisfactorily - I've never quite managed to possition the bowl in the right place on the bend of the crook, resulting in a spoon that looks more like a golf putter, and an elongated bowl.

I wanted to have a go at painting this one, I really like yellow ochre type colours, but I didn't have any proper milk paint mixed so kind of bodged it with cheap acrylic paints mixed with wallnut oil (I finally went and bought some - my brother has been telling me for ages that I shouldn't be using olive oil, which I agree tends to smell a bit rancid after a while). It didn't quite work out - it was more bright orange than ochre so I wiped it off, leaving it stained the colour of baby pooh!

Seeing the mess I was making, my wife suggested that the first spoon of the year should be something special and why didn't I guild it, as I still had some gold leaf knocking around. So I did.

AN OBSERVATION: due to a shortage of logs and split wood, I have been carving skinny branches lately and I noticed how different these are to carve from wood that has been split out from a large trunk - a lot wetter and somehow more fibrous. Using this type of wood, they certainly need roughing out and then leaving to dry abit.

I also made a butter spreader toady - I'd split a lump of ash that I'd been given a few months ago, before ash dieback hit the news. What would previously have gone on my fire pile now suddenly seems more precious and I'll see if I can't get a couple of spoons out of it too, despite it being fairly seasoned.

Sorry for the poor quality of the picture - I've since enlisted the help of my daughter Chloe and her much nicer camera

The design is one that I replicate a lot - it's not terribly practical but I like the way it looks. It's a little shorter that those I usually make, and therefore a little different in shape. See the one I have in Drew Langsner's 'Spreader Gallery' here:

It's number 66 - Drew is one of my heroes and I was very proud to be the first from the UK in the gallery.

Chloe's photography blog id here: