Just back once again from Maine – where we had a 2-day class at Lie-Nielsen in spoon carving. We turned 16-plus people loose with axes & knives. Yikes. It went very well, as long as I didn’t think about it at first. I had decided the theme for day one was  “A Moment of Doubt & Pain” – some steel & flesh collided. Nothing too bad; but you hate to see anyone get nicked.

16 people loose w axes

 

The 2nd day, it all began to click in, and out came spoons galore. Real spoons. Nice work. Here’s some photos, I didn’t get enough, I was too busy running around.

matt

SE using hook

There were lots of spoons coming out really well, I only wish I had shot more..

spoon

 

 

I remind new carvers (and old carvers too) to look a lot, carve a little. Dave looked:

looking 1

But I guess he didn’t like what he saw…

looking 2

I was helped as usual by Deneb, but we also had Tim Manney come for the weekend, (thanks again, Tim) – he was a huge help. Tim doesn’t make a spoon like I do at all, but he knows how to…so he worked & worked as well. Here, he’s teaching the old method of using a standard gouge for hollowing the bowl. This is how we first learned how to hollow them, from Drew Langsner’s book Country Woodcraft.

tim & sarah & gouges

It amounts to a flick of the wrist. Hold the tool by the shank, not the handle. Then, brace your off-thumb against the heel of your gouge-holding hand; and…

gouge 1

flick o’ the wrist – it’s a short travel for the gouge – but it works well Tim uses this method a lot. Maybe exclusively?

gouge 2

 

Most of our wood was straight-grained birch, but Dave brought his own apple crook to split

dave & the crook

 

I live in Massachusetts, not in Maine. Some think I should live in Maine. Sometimes I think it. But for now, I still drive up when I work there…and for the third straight Maine trip, I had car trouble. Dead starter it seemed. I ended up an extra day in the mid-coast Maine area, with 65-degree temps, under bright sunny skies. Nothing at all to do except sit & carve more spoons. Deneb, ever the charmer, said “why don’t you work down in the showroom?”

Here, I am using my new Nic Westermann twca cam and a neck strap. A great deal of leverage on this arrangement. I put a very long handle on mine. I saw a very brief clip of Barn Carder using one, shot by Robin Wood. Thanks, Robin & Barn – though I have only used this tool briefly, I really like the neck strap idea. The strap is just a loop around my neck. Then I twist the shank of the twca cam in one end. Then pull back a bit with my neck, while levering my right hand away from me, to bring the hook tool across the spoon bowl. Short move, big chips. Reminds me of the short time I got to try a block knife…

twca cam 2

twca cam

 

 

Then, it all became clear – Thomas Lie-Nielsen came by and admitted to tampering with my car, so I had no choice but to demonstrate in the showroom. He’ll stop at nothing. It was fun though…one woman came in & once we talked about what I was doing, she asked if I would mind if she took my picture – I thought about 20 years’ of working in front of the museum visitors, and wondered how many photos I’ve been in. A whole lot; what’s one more?

the tamper-er

here’s the link to Barn using the large hook https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rybANi3lX2M

thanks to Robin Macgregor for the last 3 photos.

Getting ready for tomorrow’s trip to Lie-Nielsen for my very full spoon-carving class, https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/18   I tarted up some of my spoon tools – the excuse is that I will be able to distinguish my tools from others’ tools. I started by cutting rows of gouge-cut patterns on the handles of my knives by Nic Westermann, these handles are ash, so I used a mallet to drive the gouge. Had to be very careful not to bump into the blades, either with my gouge or my hands. One could wrap the blade in duct tape, but I hate trying to get that junk off…I always feel like I’m going to slip & cut myself. I held these in a vise to carve them. 

 

carved handles

carved handles 2

I had been using these knives since the spring, so the handles had some patina to them; once I cut into them, the carved bits came out very bright by comparison. Time will blend it all together. 

Next, I decided to make some woven sheaths for the straight knives. I have kept several knives in a canvas roll,  but even then they can get banged around. I have one small straight knife by Del Stubbs, and he supplied a nice birch woven sheath with it. His website has a very clear photo essay on making these – to me, more  readable than the piece in Wille’s book.  http://pinewoodforge.com/sheath.making.html

del sheathe

 

I made two with some scraps of birch bark, and lashed them with ash splints from my basket work. the dark-handled knife is my first spoon carving knife; late 1980s. Its most recent use is by Daniel, age 8 1/2. (HA! When I went digging for photos I shot the other day, he’s got one of Nic’s knives in his hands – so much for continuity…)

birch & ash sheath

sheath on knife

straight knives

 

Daniel

I also made a couple completely from ash, and tried some in hickory bark. The bark had been harvested quickly, and was too thick really. Good hickory bark is great for these things.  The material I have in the best supply is ash splints, so I will bring some along in case some students want to take the time to make a sheath for their knives. 

While we’re looking at spoon knives, now is a good time to show the hooks I’ve been using most often lately. Here’s three, Robin Wood’s “open” hook, the Nic Westerman one I mentioned, and in the back, a lefty by Hans Karlsson.

hooks

 

Next up after this trip is Columbus Day weekend at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, make a frame & panel in oak – carved. Bob says room for one more. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/bob-van-dyke-doesnt-know-which-end-is-up/

For 20 years, I talked for a living. All day, every day. Spent two weeks working by myself; then went up to the Lie-Nielsen Open House. Someone stuck a camera in my face & I wouldn’t shut up. (the youtube video done by Harry Kavouksorian, posted on Lie-Nielsen’s website) :

Here’s some photo views of the open house. it was a great one. See their facebook photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152214121253016.1073741897.100708343015&type=1

spoon class at Lie-Nielsen

 

Robin from Lie-Nielsen got a bunch of photos up on Facebook. I don’t go there myself, but I like that the Lie-Nielsen website lets you see the photos even if you are not a facebook-y person. 

go. 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152090593133016.1073741893.100708343015&type=1

In there, you’ll see Ben Kirk matching me beard-for-beard. I’m the one w/o tattoos. 

Will you be there in October? It will be great…

 

I have the greatest time in Maine. Just got back from 7 days there. Can’t wait to go back.  I saw scads of birds. In the spring it’s warblers – small, fleeting little birds, mostly 60 feet up in the tree tops. Some came down low once in a while.

black-throated blue warbler. 

BT blue

Pileated woodpecker holes – just to tease me. These large birds always elude me. I only get fleeting glimpses. 

mortising not by hand

yell0w-rumped warbler, female. 

yellow rumped

The male. 

yellow rumped male

black & white warbler, not quite still enough. 

B&W

flyover Great Blue Heron. 

flyover gbh

Most common bird in the Maine woods this past week was the ovenbird. I saw many, but they. like most warblers, are never still. barely got this one. 

ovenbird

Common yellowthroat. They love the water. 

common yellowthroat

Chestnut-sided warbler. many of these around. 

chestnut sided warbler

got him even better. 

chestnut sided again

More pileated ativity, recent too. 

holes

‘nuther yellowthroat. 

yellowthroat

Then they screamed in = lousy grey day. but I had to shoot ‘em. Didn’t try to get closer, they only stayed a couple minutes. 

woody   2 pileateds

I also had a great bunch of students at Lie-Nielsen, carving spoons. I didn’t shoot much, too busy watching 13 people w axes & knives. maybe 3 band-aids, and some of those were an employee! Next spoon class there is first weekend in October. This one was full, I expect the October one will be also.  http://www.lie-nielsen.com/weekend-workshop/1-ww-pf-sc14 

intent students   safe grip

 

pile of stuff   progress

 

It looks like nothing is happening, but look at the floor. these people wouldn’t even stop for lunch. we had a day with glorious weather & I took off to look for birds. Only 2 students came outside. the others kept carving. 

 

overall

I am packing all my knives, axes, and about 30 spoons, etc to head up to Lie-Nielsen tomorrow. 

but the photos here tonight are all birds. It is May, after all. 

The owlet, (great horned owl) has been climbing out of the nest; but goes back & forth. Once the downy bits are gone, it’s time to try flying. I hope to see that…

owlet in

in the nest

 

owlet out

out of the nest

 

owlet detail

It must be weary; here it’s resting its head. 

rest your eary head

But the little birds are the attraction in the woods in May. Harder than all get-out to photograph. Here I snagged a Wilson’s warbler down by the Eel River. 

wilson's warbler

 

The Carolina wrens are easy to shoot though, they are not the least bit leery of people. 

c wren singing

 

But the bird of the week for me was a Black Crowned Night Heron. I haven’t seen one of these this well in decades. He was sitting on someone’s back deck at Jenny Pond in Plymouth. When I was a young art student; for a while I wanted to be Andrew Wyeth, then I wanted to be John James Audubon. In my bird-drawing/painting phase, the night herons were my most common subject. There was a roost just about a 2-minute walk from where I grew up. Seeing this one reminded me of those days. 

 

I usually just write about a few topics here, over & over. Green woodworking, carved oak furniture, spoons, my kids, and birds. Tonight is no exception. It’s May, and that means spring migration is full-tilt. This morning I went out & saw several new arrivals, including this yellow warbler.

yellow warbler 2

At the end of the week, I head up to Maine for 7 days – principally to Lie-Nielsen’s classroom to teach my first-ever course in spoon carving on the 10th & 11th. This one’s teeming with students, so we added one for October 4th & 5th. It’s no coincidence that I have a class there in May – I try to fit in a trip there each spring to catch the birds as they arrive in their nesting grounds. It’s good birding up there. The woodworking is great too. This is one of four trips I’m making up there this season, two more in July; the open house on July 11th & 12th, and an oak carving class the following weekend, July 19th & 20th. At this rate, I should just move up to Maine!

Bowl of March spoons

Bowl of March spoons

ovenbird in Maine July 2013

ovenbird in Maine July 2013

I briefly mentioned that I had set up a bench and some tools here at home. That’s a real throwback for me, I haven’t had any bench work at my residence in a long time. It’s been hard to get any continuity going, but recently I did mostly finish my first frame-and-panel of the season. I had made a few of these last fall, and people snatched them up, leading up to Xmas. I hope to keep making them, depends on how many of you want them. I’m all set for them, my kitchen is all done above the counters, not sure I’ll tackle the lower cabinets. They’re fun to do, and are a good use of some leftover panel stock. I’ve made them as custom work before, based on some chest panels with dates and/or initials carved as part of the design, I’ll post this one on the blog soon, for $500.

frame & panel

The frame-and-panel project is what we’ll tackle for my class at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking on Columbus Day weekend in October. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes

 

One last thing for now. I frequently discuss my connection with Drew & Louise Langsner’s woodworking school Country Workshops. If you are new here, you might want to take some time to view their website. While you’re there, sign up for the free newsletter. This most recent one had some great hand-drawn notes & sketches by Dan Musick, a student in Drew’s spoon & bowl class. It’s a PDF you can download, I stink at taking notes when I’m the student, so these are much appreciated. The newsletter often has great snippets of green woodworking techniques. http://countryworkshops.org/newsletter/newsletter/newsletter.html

In addition, I just found out that Country Workshops has uploaded to their Youtube page the complete videos they shot of Ruedi Kohler’s Swiss cooperage, and Bengt Lidstrom making his renowned hewn bowls in Sweden. I have always encouraged people to buy these, now you can see them yourself. Buying them helps support Country Workshops, but you’ll see for yourself what great craft videos these are. Not step-by-step instructional videos, but instead you’re watching an absolute master in each case, working their craft. go follow this link.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCObHW-UmOY_72PU1nQNsiiw/videos

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