Saturday, 28 September 2013

SPOON # 38 - Saturday 28th September

This spoon is a bit of a cheat, I guess, since I didn't actually carve it this week. That is to say, I carved some of it this week, but had actually started it back in April. It's sycamore heart-wood, hence the lovely grain colouration (it's practically purple), and when I posted about this spoon back in April it was to complain about how it had split - look closely at the bowl and you can see the splits.

Anyway, I kept the spoon and over the months, as it dried out, the splits closed up so I thought I'd see if I could finish it off, and here are the results.

I'm kind of glad I didn't throw it on the fire pile now.
Julian is right, this isn't sycamore at all - far too colourful - but some lilac he gave me ages ago. When it was green it carved beautifully but was so wet that it dried too quickly and split each time. I guess next time I get some lilac I'll know to leave it a few months to stabilized a bit.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

SPOON # 37 - Saturday 21st September

Yes, I know, I know - I was all 'woe is me' last week and saying I would never carve again, but as luck would have it, things have begun to fall into place a little at work over the past week and I found myself on Saturday night with an hour or so to do a bit of carving - and why shouldn't I?

So, here is this week's spoon. I used some more of that wood my neighbour gave me (the one I don't know the variety of). It had been sitting under the table in my back garden for best part of a month now and had turned a lovely orange colour as it oxydized, so I thought I'd try and capitalize on that colour.

I was hoping to use one of the crooks that I'd got left, but they all had either big knots right where my bowl would be, or else had cracked too far down where the handle would be, so I settled for this staight piece.

I know I've made this shape before - it's actually one of my stock spoon shapes, but I did try a couple of new things that in the end I was quite pleased with. Firstly, I put a sharp keel on the top of the handle. I think this looks quite nice, though it was hard to do as when you reach the highest point on the handle you are transitioning between grain in two different directions. This wasn't helped by the small knots just at that point and I did get a little tear-out, but ce la vie.

Quite a cranked profile and a nice, shallow bowl, for ease of eating.

Then, on the end of the handle, I made a kind of inverted cut to follow in converse the keel on the front - I hope that makes sense. It's a simple thing but it's fairly difficult to get the grain to all come together in a number of differentdirections.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

SPOON # 36 - Saturday 7th Sept

I am pleased to say that I succeeded in carving a laddle from the wood my neighbour gave me a few weeks ago. If you look back about four posts, I mentioned this wood, saying how frustrated I had been that every time a tried to carve it, it split at the spot where the bowl meets the handle. Well, I started this particular spoon around the same time, but when the first crack began to show, I wrapped it news paper and left it in the garage for three weeks. When I got it out last week and decided to try and finish it off I was pleased to find that it had stabilized and, despite now being much harder, I could finish it off and keep it in tact - no more splitting.

It's not quite finished. A few fine cuts and a bit of sanding I think, but I'm really pleased with it over all - a nice simple laddle from a crook.
You can see on the right side of the handle where a little knot fell out, but I quite like it - it adds a bit of character.

SPOON # 35 - Saturday 31 August

I should begin with an apology. It has been weeks since I posted anything on this blog and I am doing these next few posthumously. At the end of August I started a new job as Assistant Head at a special school for children from aged 4 to 19 with physical and mental disabilities, and to say it has been a bit of a challenge, a steep learning curve or a baptism of fire would all be grossly understating the way I have felt over the past three weeks or so. Which brings me to the point of my preamble - I have not had time for carving, nor blogging, and don't realistically see that changing any time soon - at least for the next month or so, but possibly right up till Christmas. So, it is with regret that I am going to have to graciously bow out of my initial 52 weeks challenge of producing a spoon a week for a year. I will try, and when I do manage to carve, I will post and until then I am going to hand the reigns over to my brother Julian who will post one of his spoons each week instead - until I am up and running again.

In the mean time, here is a spoon that I carved a few weeks ago. It was tough going as it was from a piece of well-seasoned ash, which as you will know is one of the strongest and hardest woods. It was a small piece I came across on my wood pile, waiting to be burnt, and couldn't really bring myself to throw it on the fire as it is what I think is called jigged, or fiddled - meaning the tree it came from grew under some kind of stress and instead of having straight lines of grain, it has crinckled, zig-zagged grain instead. It is absoulutely beautiful and I used some before, when it was green and plentiful. Now I have run out of that particular wood, I thought I would rather struggle through carving some seasoned wood than simply watch it burn. It has a wonderful striped effect when you look across the grain and is zig-zagged when viewed straight-on. The close up photo of the end of the handle will show this lovely pattern, I hope.

Sorry - this is an absolutely awful shot of the side of my spoon - it looks more like a golf club than a spoon - trust me when I say it actually looks a lot better than this!

And nothing to do with spoons, but my song of the week, which I can't get out of my head and keep listening to over and over again, is a cracker by Grizzly Bear, called 'Two Weeks'. You might recognise it from the Youview advert currently on TV, but it is from their album which I was given a couple of years ago, but never really got into. I love it - hope it makes you smile as much as it does me.