Sunday, 17 March 2013

SPOON # 11 - Saturday 16th March

I decided to have a go at making a spoon that I actually needed, this week. I can best explain this need by showing you the spoons that we use in our kitchen:
 form left to right:

- teaspoon - good for making hot drinks and children's eating spoon
- dessert spoon - general purpose adult's eating spoon
- table spoons - these are old, like the ones my mum and nan both used for cooking - roughly an ounce in measure
- ladle - okay for small measures and perfect for pancake batter
- plastic serving spoons - cheap, ugly, but just right for serving adult portions

We had friends come for tea on Monday. I had made a beef cobbler (beef stew with dumplings) and we ended up having to use the plastic serving spoon, which wasn't a problem as such, but it certainly didn't add to the dining experience. So, I decided to make a ladle.

Now, I've made ladles before, but each time with varying degrees of failure. My first was a cherry ladle, carved around a camp fire with the intention of using it to serve up a hare stew I had made. It turned out ok (which is sadly more than can be said for the hare stew which was rank) and worked well and all was good except, when I got it home I didn't take care to dry it slowly and so it cracked on the lip of the bowl. Then I dropped it and a piece broke out where the crack had been.

One of my earliest attempts at carving - my wife's initials.

A more recent attemp at a laddle was out of birch and again, before I'd even completed the spoon, it began to split.

Notice the splits in the bowl either side of the handle - the chunk out of the rim
was a knot that broke out when I threw the spoon out of frustraction when the first crack appeared.
Then another challenge for me when carving something big - big enough to actually ladle with - is achieving size and elegance at the same time. I once carved a ladle that was so hefty my son called it the 'war spoon' and used it to chase pheasants round the woods where we were camping. And I should add, if he'd managed to hit a bird with the thing it would have brained it!

So, the challenge, as I said, was to make a larger spoon, that was a little more svelte than my previous attempts. Last week a friend from work gave me some apple wood. I carved a little spoon in the week with a piece of off-cut and was very pleased with the results. So, I thought I'd try using apple for my ladle. And here it is:


I can't honestlt say I'm very happy with it. I am an exponent of symetry - I admire those carvers who can go asymetric, but it simply doesn't work for me. And, as you can see, one side of the bowl has flattened, which just draws my eye every time I look at it. On the plus side, it has a huge bowl, easily big enough for actually using and I managed to get the profile of the handle fairly thin, so it's not overly chunky.

I do worry about the splitting and cracking as it dries out so it is carefully wrapped in newspaper and resting in my garage which is nice and cool for a slow drying out period - hopefully it will survive intact. As the wood was very green and very moist, I haven't really finished it yet, but will smooth it once it has dried out for a week or two. Perhaps when I come back to it I'll like it a little more. I guess I need to keep my eyes out for a good spoon crook for my next laddle, and then the bowl and rim will be that little bit stronger.

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