Thursday, 26 December 2013

SPOON # 50 & 51 - Thursday 26 th December

Having run out of wood last week, I decided it was time to go out and get some. I'd tried a local tree surgeon whose house I pass everyday, but there's never anyone home, as was the case on this instance. So I put a note through the door explaining my circumstances in the hope that they'd get back to me, but no such luck.

So last Saturday evening I set out to a nearby wood with a bow saw. I hadn't really thought it through properly, a fact bourn out by how dark it was when I got there and that I couldn't actually see what trees I was looking at. I found what I presumed was a variety of willow growing beside a river with some tall, straight pollard type branches.

I got it home and carved a couple of spoons. It was very green wood, very wet and as such I had to be careful that it didn't dry out too quickly and crack.

I tried to do some nautical, scrimshaw type kolrosing - as you can see I found the little curls quite difficult so need to work on that.

The brown mark in the middle of the spoon that looks like a burn is a burn. As I was carving the spoon it began to split at the tip of the bowl so I popped it in the micro wave for several 20 second blasts in order to dry it out. On the last blast I gave it 30 seconds and burned it - oh well.

This is a spoon design I have used before, but previously with a smaller bowl that looked more like a tea spoon - I think it works much better with a larger bowl and is more practical as an eating spoon now.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

SPOON # 49 - Sunday 15th December

Here is another little laurel eating spoon - the last of my laurel. A simple design with a bit of kolrosing - in the new year I'd really like to do a lot more kolrosing. I've always been a fan of scrimshaw and fancy myself a bit of a scrimshander, even though I've never actually done any. Come to think of it, I quite fancy a go at shotgun engraving too. When I was about 17 I used to work with a bloke, Uncle Chris, who had been a jewellery engraver in a previous life and he'd let me use his graving tools and took me to Birmingham jewellery quarter to buy a small quantity of silver which I carved into a love spoon pendant for my girlfriend- come to think of it, that was the first spoon I ever made.

This is a very simple pattern, I began with the intention of having another go at basket weave pattern, but soon realised I'd got the angles on the transecting lines wrong so went with this simple criss-cross instead.

I rubbed the kolrosing with charcoal - I'm sure I've read that this is a traditional method - and it worked fairly well. It looked like a dirty smudge at first, but after a rub down with walnut oil it looked okay.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

SPOON # 48 - Saturday 7th December

After last week's disasters I have to say I am quite pleased with this week's spoon. It's another laurel spoon, which means I was kind of restricted size-wise, as it is only a relatively thin branch that I have been using. Again, it has some rather nice tortoise-shell like patterning to the wood, which will deepen with age. It's an eating spoon, size-wise. I have fallen into the habit of carving a really smooth finish, and sanding a little, on the inside of the bowl and leaving it tooled on the outside.

As you can see, the handle profile is very curvaceous - wasn't sure at first if it would work
or be a little over the top. I think it's okay.

I used my crook knife again on the underside of the handle to make concave cuts along the side of the keel,
making it feel a little slimmer.

I really like the honey tones of this wood. I'll certainly keep my eyes open for laurel again. As it happens, I have enough left for one more little spoon, then I am all out of wood. I'll have to put out some feelers for something to see me through to New Year.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


Just a quick one to say Happy Christmas to all my friends, fellow carvers, green woodworkers, bushcrafters and any one else who might stumble across my blog.

My wife took this photo of my carving in the sitting room last night - she said it was for the purpose of putting something a little festive on my blog but I suspect her divorce solicitor has advised her to collect evidence.

Either way - HAPPY CHRISTMAS - I'd be interested to hear what new knives and axes you find in your stockings!

SPOONS # 45, 46, 47 - 17th November - 1st December

It's been a really busy few weeks, hence my ability to post any spoons recently. So, I am going to post three in one this week.

I can't honestly say I am very pleased with the three I have to show, for various reasons, but I put most of it down to lack of practise and I find myself in the surprising position of being nearly at the end of my 52 spoons project, by which time I thought I would be a consummate expert, only to find that the spoons I am making are not as good as many I had made previously. That's not to say it's all bad - I'm not even at the end of the project yet and I am considerably better than I was at the beginning and my understanding of the form and design of spoons has increased incredibly. What it tells me is that I can not expect to carve only a single spoon a week, giving it only an hour or so, with tools that I haven't taken the time to sharpen properly and wood that is way below a carvable standard, and still come out with something I am pleased with and proud of.

Any way, here are my three spoon, carved in the order from right to left.

The first one I carved was this little laurel spoon, which I actually don't mind that much.

It's quite a nice shape and colour. I quite like the effect of the knots in the wood, though it does make it hard to carve. I didn't originally mean the handle to be as curvy in profile as it ended up, but I had a spot where I was getting a lot of tear-out so had to carve it out. I used a hooked knife on the reverse of the spoon for the first time, too, meaning that the keel along the back of the handle is actually concave.

Then, last week, I carved this spoon (or should I say, began to carve it):

As you can see, this was from a natural crook and I'd hoped it would give me a lovely spoon. The wood is sycamore or rowan, I found it already cut in my local woods, so didn't know how old or dry it would be. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered it was very dry and fibrous and splintery and it did not carve very well at all. I left it, thinking I would come back to it to finish off once I had sharpened my knives, only to discover last night that it had two crack opening up on the bowl. Just as well really as I should have given up on it right from the first.

Yesterday's spoon is the worst. I only had a little laurel branch wood left, which didn't allow me sufficient width to do a proper crank on the spoon, so I did what I actually dislike immensely, and carved a flat spoon.

I don't know why, but I just don't like it. Oh well, now I know that for sure I'll be careful to avoid that in future (other than for cooking spoons, which work quite well straight).

So the hunt is on to find something a little better to se me through to the new year.