Saturday, 24 August 2013

SPOON # 34 - Saturday 24th August

I was determined this weekend to make a laddle or deep serving spoon using the crooks I had cut from a small tree my neighbour had cut down and given me. It didn't go too much to plan - two attempts and both split, both in the same place. The second was not as bad as the first, so I have wrapped it and put it away in the hope that it will dry out slowly and I can then finish it off another time.

Instead I made this spoon, which showed signs of splitting along the handle into the bowl, but seems ok now - fingers crossed.

SPOON # 33 - Satyrday 17th August

This weekend I was running a youth camp for boys aged 12-18 for church. In the past I have done some whittling and carving with the boys, but this year there were too many and I didn't feel I could have proper control, knowing what boys are like once you give them an axe or sharp knike. Instead I decided to make what I have always called French Darts - though I'm not sure why as an internet search returned only information about skirt pleats and a game with a beer bottle on a pole and a frisbee. My version, taught to me by my big brother Adrian when I was much younger, is basically a long, thin hazel spear, fitted with a flight made from the plastic of a pepsi bottle, then thrown with the assistence of either a length of knotted string or an atlatl - a short hooked stick.

If you're interested to see how this kind of thing works, have a look here:

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I handed out knives to all the adults (this was my safety precaution) in order to split the ends of the spears, in order to insert the flight, with the strict instruction that you never cut towards yourself. Next thing I know one of my friends, Chris, has cut himself at the top of his thumb, there is arterial spray over his legs and face and no sooner have I bound it than blood is soaking back through the wadding and bandage that I am using. I only mention this in order to remind myself and anyone else who might be reading that the tools we use are intentionally sharp and when used carelessly or incorrectly dangerous. Chris went back to hospital three times and was eventually operated on to mend the nicked tendon and the cut artery.

I took a turned bowl, beaker and spoon with me to eat my meals at camp and the boys and leaders were very interested to see how I carved a spoon so I made this one - not great because I didn't have a lot of time nore a proper chopping block, but it served the purpose of demonstration. It is sycamore.

Just spotted my Freudian slip-up in the title - it's not the day I dance around with Pan's People, nor do I have goats legs and little horns! 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

SPOON # 32 - Sunday 8th August

I think this spoon is made from sycamore - it was a piece of wood Julian gave me and I think that's what he said it was. I had tried to split it some weeks ago but it was so twisted once it began to split, that the two wedges I was using simply stuck in the wood and as I had been in a bit of a rush at the time, I am ashamed to say that I simply left it like that, with the wedges still stuck in it, under the garden table in order to stop the wedges from rusting should it rain, and there it sat for a couple of weeks.

Yesterday, however, when I was mooching around for a piece of wood, I noticed this half split limb and saw that the wood that had been exposed had darkened up quite nicely so thought I should finish the job I had started weeks ago and get enough wood to make a spoon. I had already decided that I would only make a small eating spoon so knew I wouldn't need a lot. And here it is.
I started by taking my photos out of doors but it was sunny and with it being fairly light coloured wood, the photos were pretty much burned out and you couldn't really see the detail of the spoon, and bearing in mind my recent promise to give better photos, I scrapped those and took some more in-doors.
As you can see, compared to my frosts knife, the spoon is only the size of an average tea spoon. I am hoping it will darken as the air acts upong the newly carved surfaces.

I really quite like the reverse sweep at the top end of the handle - it makes the spoon more tactile and adds a further dimension to the overall shape. You will notice also that I have not over cranked the spoon, which is a real temptation for me as I love the look of cranked spoons but often end up with something more like a laddle which is not really condusive to eating with.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

SPOON # 31 - Saturday 3rd August

Well, it's Spoonfest weekend and I am sitting at home feeling sorry for myself wishing I was there. I can't remember now the original reasons why I decided that I wouldn't be able to go this year - I'm going to blame Julian - but all I know is that in the end there was nothing stopping me from going other than leaving it too late to get tickets and organise travel.

So, I thought this week's spoon should have some kind of Spoonfest connection, and here it is.

Simon Hill is a tree surgeon from Cheshire (I think) who I met at last year's Spoonfest. Julian had know Simon for some time prior to that due to Bushcraft UK and some communications they had shared through that forum and we ended up camping next to him and his wife and daughter. He is a really nice and friendly bloke and after that meeting I began following his blog, which I really enjoy.

Simon has developed a couple of quite recognisable designs of spoon and is also an incredible chip carver. Have a look at his blog as it is very informative.

Recently Simon posted an item about carving pot hangers on the backs of cooking and serving spoons, along with a simple tutorial. I have seen these types of spoons before but have never actually done one so thought I'd give it a go, following his instructions and using one of his designs as the starting point.

You can clealy see the pot hanger on the back of the spoon....

...and here it is in action.

It is a large sycamore spoon - I have put my frosts carving knife in the picture for size comparison. It was a joy to carve as this particular design lends itself to long straight cuts. I did make a fatal error on this particular spoon which, though maybe not noticable on the pictures, will mean the spoon having a fairly short working life, I think. I'll try to explain: if you look at the picture of the side profile of the spoon, you will see that there are two main angles which meet at the widest part of the bowl. These angles are cut from opposite directions and should meet neatly at the bowl. Unfortunately, I got carried away with my new Nic Westermann axe and over-shot the cut which no amount of knife work can get rid of without drastically changing the shape of the spoon. And whilst it doesn't look too bad now, I imagine with use - warm washing up water and snagging on tea towels - it will probably split. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. The spoon still needs drying properly, and then oiling and I intend to do a little chip carving on the handle at some point, too.