Spoon Carver’s Blog
Often while I am carving, I want to tell someone about the spoon. How it takes on a character of it's own, or how a mistake became something beautiful. That is what this blog is for. Welcome!
Carving lessons I've learned in the past 6 months.
(A blogpost I started in Nov that I’m finally finishing up because it’s still relevant. Sorry for the random photo sizes, I’m too worn out to fix them. Now I remember why I like Instagram so much…)
For years I have been living with the mentality that since my carving time is limited, I had better only spend it carving what I love most, eating spoons. Someday, when I think I have more time, I’ll take time to learn to carve other things, like making toys for the kids, or by that time, grandkids.
I have been discouraged about my carving ability, or lack thereof. It feels like for every pretty nice spoon I make, I make about 10 more that might be called decent, but probably not. It feels like a waste of time.
This spring, when the Spoon Gathering rolled around. I debated whether or not it was worth going. I had not carved in almost a year, and it felt like too much trouble to start again. I knew that if I didn’t go, it could be years before I was motivated to carve anything again. So we went, and I even went early to take a refresher course with Patrick Diette.
(Check out his work Klipnocky Wood Shop, I Love it! I own more of his spoons than anyone else.)
I left the Spoon Gathering in the middle of making a spatula (I haven’t done a big carving project in years!) for a cousin’s wedding that was due in two weeks.
Nothing like a deadline to keep me going. So instead of enjoying the gathering and putting my knives away as soon as I got home, I had something I had to finish.
When I finished, and posted a photo to Instagram (my account is @jarofwood ),
my sister reminded me she was getting married in two months… So, I dug in my freezer for another blank and started on another spatula since she already has a mixing spoon from me. I was kind of enjoying it too! (Note, this particular blank has been waiting in my freezer for many years waiting for just the right time and occasion to come out.)
The theme of the Spoon Gathering this year was decorating spoons. I’ve never felt brave enough to do any decorations, because after all the work I put into a spoon, I sure didn’t want to ruin it by trying to do something I had never done before. But decorating had caught on, and there was a lot of inspiring photos on IG (Instagram) and I thought it was time to give it a try, after all, I’ve owned Del Stubbs’ kolrosing and detail knives for about 9 years already.
For the first time in a while, I purposefully let myself carve something other than a spoon (a good spatula is just about ask tricky as a good eating spoon), just for the sake of learning. I decided to carve a batch of butter knives to take with me to on vacation for my sister’s wedding, so I could experiment with different angles of blades, and different decorating styles.
It has been a fun process! (Experimenting between kolrosing and chip carving)
When we got back from the wedding, I pulled a piece of wood out of the freezer to have a deadline-free go at another spatula. After all, the wood has been in my freezer for quite some time, and it is taking up a lot of space. While I was at it, I pulled out a few pieces for some eating spoons, to have a smaller project to work on when I got tired of the spatula. When I picked up the axe to work on the spatula, I noticed a difference in my carving. For the first time ever, I wasn’t scared of the axe. Apparently making two spatulas, and seeing how much waste wood I have to remove to make a nice one helped me to have the confidence I have been missing. Even when I moved to the eating spoons for a break, I used the axe to shape the spoons more than I have in the past. Even to work on the neck and the inside of the bowl, two places I have otherwise avoided. And it felt good!
I am proud of how the spoons turned out. Maybe some of my nicest work so far.
(A baby spoon for my new niece.)
The spatula isn’t finished. I have made good progress, but the apple wood I am using is knarly, and it is teaching me a lesson of it’s own: Choose your wood carefully. Bad wood isn’t worth spending time on… But I will finish it sometime…
I don’t have any more deadlines for gifts that I know of right now, so I’m not tied to making things for other people.
You know what I did this week? I carved a twig bird.
Not even a bird attached to a spoon or a knife. A bird without a purpose, but to make me smile, and to see if I could. My boys think it is super cool and want me to make them one to play with. You know what? I am.
I have realized that it is because of my NOT making eating spoons that my eating spoons made a jump in quality. (At least two of the three did…)
You know what else I did today? I made some hooks for the wall out of branches. I’ve wanted to do that for years. There just happened to be a good stock of branches down the street waiting to be picked up. For once I looked at a branch pile by the road and didn’t think about spoons. First I grabbed twigs to make more birds, then I went back for the hooks.
I still have wood in the freezer for spoons, but for now, I am giving myself permission to carve something else for a while.
The spoon I owned for less than a week
Last year at the Spoon Gathering, I was again able to add to my growing woodenware collection. I have been slowly collecting spoons from my carving friends, as well as plates and bowls from Jarrod StoneDahl This was the first time I decided to also buy a spoon from Jarrod. I think I especially fell in love with the colour he used on the handle.
Well, I was enjoying the spoon so much, that I threw it in my purse one day as I went out to do errands. (You NEVER know when you will need a spoon on the go, you might meet someone who invites you out for ice cream. It is always good to be prepared!) That was the last I saw of that spoon. I think it maybe fell out of my purse in a shopping cart, I’ve even gone back to ask 3 times, it hasn’t been found.
It is still a good idea to take a spoon with you wherever you go, but maybe make sure the bag you put it in can be zippered shut first.
I recently opened an Instagram account (jarofwood) and found I really enjoy how easy it is to post photos and a quick caption. Unlike my blog, which feels like it takes all night just to put up one post, therefore I don’t. This year at the Spoon Gathering in Milan, a number of people said they still check out my page, so for them, I’d like to post a little more often. No guarantees about frequency, and if we open our home to more foster children the web page will go back to the back burner, but until then, a few photos for you to enjoy.
This photo I took early this spring, of my new coffee stirring spoon in the morning light. I was mesmerized with the play of light on the coffee, and how the coffee was in constant motion.
Short story behind the spoon. I made it at Spoonfest in the UK last summer. I was frustrated with trying to create a perfect spoon that I purposefully gave up and worked on scrap wood that I picked up from the ground. It was pleasing to my eye but not to my mouth, so it sat on my spoon board for months. Then I saw a blog post by Jarrod Stone-Dahl about handcraft in use. I loved that he used a spoon to make his wife’s coffee, something I drink a lot of but have never regularly used a wood spoon for, so I hunted on my board for a spoon that would be perfect, and that I wouldn’t mind if it became dark from coffee.
It has gone from a reject spoon to a favorite spoon. I love it when that happens.
Spoon Gathering 2014
My family and I just came back from our 6th Spoon Gathering in Milan, MN. What a nice weekend. My favorite part about going to things like the Spoon Gathering is how much I take home with me and keep pondering over even when it is done. Especially when so much happens in such a short amount of time.
In my pondering, here are a few of the highlights for me:
Carving. Last year I only took out my knife to loan to someone to carve their name; I’m not even sure they used it. This year I was glad to be able to do a little carving myself. I haven’t finished the spoon I started, but I hope to soon.
Talking to other carvers. Catching up with old acquaintances, meeting new people. Where else in the world can you find people who readily understand the pleasure of carving a spoon by hand? (Besides Spoonfest…)
Seeing Chuck, who we met at Spoonfest last summer. We were one of only 7 people there from USA, and the first person, along with his wife, who we met at Spoonfest. It was a lot of fun to catch up with him.
Seeing someone motivated to carve a spoon similar to one of mine. High praise indeed!
Watching my son have the time of his life playing outside almost all day.
Great weather, including a great thunderstorm at night.
Sitting with, chatting with, and carving with the older gentlemen in the crowd. The people that aren’t on Facebook. Just enjoying good conversation and not worrying about trying to impress anyone.
The Spoon Circle (or whatever you want to call it). After being at Spoonfest last summer, and participating in their closing Spoon Club, I hoped we would do at the Gathering too, but it wasn’t in the plans. I asked if it was something we could do, and I was told sure! If I organized it…. So I did, even though it made me nervous, because that is how much I was hoping it would happen. What is it? Everyone comes with their knives and a spoon blank (we didn’t have enough chopping blocks for everyone to start with the axing out) and spend 5 minutes carving on it, then pass the spoon on to the person on the left, and taking the blank from the person on the right. Spend 5 minutes on that spoon, and then pass it on, etc, for an hour. At the end of an hour you get to keep the spoon in your hands. Everyone leaves with a mostly finished spoon. Sort of a group project/instant gratification thing. With a lot of friendly banter in process.
Having people tell me “thank you” for organizing the Spoon Circle. It was a lot of fun! I’m glad other people enjoyed it too.
Listening to Robin Wood’s talk about his journey in wood working.
The spoons and bowls I was able to acquire while there.
There is more, so much more, but that gives you a small picture of the weekend. For photos, check the Spoon Gathering 2014 in the Photo Galleries.
My Hubby and I were able to go to Spoonfest in the UK this summer, I am finally working on putting photos up in the photo gallery if you are interested. It is a work in progress at the moment, so check back in a few days to see how far I got.