spoon hook knife

I’m still working out the details of my teaching schedule for 2015 – there’ll be some new places. I think I mentioned before; Alaska, England, Indiana…and most of the usual spots; Roy’s place, Lie-Nielsen, Bob Van Dyke’s. I’ll have it nailed pretty soon. 

One exciting new venue is right here in Massachusetts – local or semi-local people have always asked me where do I teach near home, and til now the answer was “I don’t.” Now I do. We’re in the midst of setting up the classes, workshops, etc that will be Plymouth CRAFT. And along with some food & textiles offerings, we’re ready to cut some spoons. January 17th & 18th; 2 days of green wood; hatchets, knives, spoons – what could be more fun? I’ll have hook knives, students will need their own straight “sloyd” knife and small sharp hatchet. I’ll send a list of possible suppliers..

tools

Below is a link to sign up for classes; mine and others. If you’re from elsewhere, we can send you details about lodging and more…

Hope to see a full class of spoon-carvers! 

UPDATE – WE HAD SOME WEBSITE PROBLEMS; AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, IT SEEMS FIXED NOW. THESE LINKS WORKED WHEN I CHECKED THEM MOMENTS AGO -

http://plymouthcraft.org/events/

http://plymouthcraft.org/event/carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee/

I know weird people. There’s an outfit formed around Plymouth Massachusetts this year that proves it.

photo shoot at MLB

most of them can’t even look at the camera

The fledgling non-profit Plymouth CRAFT is getting up and running; the website is being developed now, it will get fleshed-out soon – http://plymouthcraft.org/welcome/

The whole gig will be worth watching, or better yet, worth participating in. The word “craft” in the title stands for Center for Restoration Arts and Forgotten Trades. It is a loosely-knit group of artisans and craftspeople who will be offering workshops, demonstrations, expertise and other whiz-bang crafty know-how to students, amateurs, professionals, and other interested parties.

The other day a few of us assembled at Michael Burrey’s place to shoot some photos and video to be used in our fund-raising and as a general introduction to the question – “what goes on? “

First up, woodworker Michael Burrey, working clay. You’ve seen MIchael on these pages some before; http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/who-you-gonna-call/ and if you read Rick McKee’s blog Blue Oak, http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/   (you do, don’t you?)  then you are familiar with the scope and range of Michael’s work. On this particular day, Michael was molding bricks for a building on Nantucket. These go down low, around the perimeter of the building, with the ogee shape towards the sky to shed water…if I had paid more attention, I would have the name & date of the building, and more detail about the source for this brick shape. Once he has enough made, he’ll fire them in his wood-fired kiln, just beyond the edges of this photo.

mlb brick man

brick mold

brick exits mold

Paula Marcoux http://www.themagnificentleaven.com/The_Magnificent_Leaven/Welcome.html  was mostly the ring-leader, but she also dove in and was teaching passers-by how to make “shrak” a flat-bread found in her book Cooking with Firehttp://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/product-placement/ this stuff was good. Give Paula a 5-gallon bucket, and a few sticks & she’ll whip out her gear and some flour and off you’ll go…

pm & jacob

pm & bread

I only know the tip of Pen Austin’s iceberg. Her work is astounding, catch a glimpse of it here http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/playing-marbles/

pen & marbled paint

and when I saw this rig on Saturday, I knew I had to hang around to see it happen… it looks like a “sweep” (that’s what Joseph Moxon called it, for making an arch from wood, sans lathe) – a scratch stock on a trammel essentially. Pen has a whole different vocabulary for it, here she was working plaster – gooping it up right quick…then swinging the  molding scraper across the mess- out comes architecture. (the first shot is a rope of clay, to bulk up the demo piece – usually it would all be plaster…) 

like a scratch stock

 

Midway through the process – these folks got to work quickly, before the stuff sets too much. 

plaster arch w sweep

arch

At this point, there’s a lot of refinement; filling in gaps with wet mixture, then swinging another pass. 

arch 2

she made this archway just for a demonstration – what work! It was a gas to watch that form come together…

 

Charlotte Russell came by with some drop-spindle stuff, some carded wool and Maureen sat right down for lesson # 1… Charlotte has been a textile artisan for over 50(ish) years -she spins, knits, weaves, has a passion for history and craft, and is a skilled teacher in all things fiber.

cr & drop

spinning a yarn

I took a quick stab (Oh, poor choice of words for teaching knife-work) at teaching one of the photographers some of the knife moves for working on spoon-carving. I have no idea if it was sinking in, there was lots to keep track of that morning…but his moves were right, and no blood was shed…

003

002

When we get further along with this endeavor, I’ll be writing more about it here, Rick will too on Blue Oak – so you’ll hear about it.  There’s way more people and crafts involved than what we previewed the other day…that was just what we could round up on short notice. Have a look at the website, and stay tuned. You’ll hear more. 

I think of Bill Coperthwaite’s quote – “I want to live in a society where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”

If Daniel hadn’t had a baseball game, we woulda stuck around Burrey’s for the rest of it. Just as regular order of business, it was apple-cider-making day…


makes me thing of RB merg

This view always makes me think of a red-breasted merganser; or Woody Woodpecker. I got some stuff photographed and posted finally. I struggle with the photos constantly; they are never to my liking. But after shooting this stuff three times in some cases, I figured it’s not going to get different enough to matter. I hope. There’ll be another batch sometime between now & Thanksgiving, maybe two if I get organized. Here’s the page, http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-and-more-oct-2014/ or the banner at the top of the blog’s front page. Leave a comment if you’d like to order something. Only one shipping charge per order for those who order more than one item. No need to get nuts about it…

Paypal is easiest, but I can take a check too if you’d rather, just let me know. 
Thanks as always for the support. I truly appreciate it. 

bowl & spoons

Reading Nick Hornby’s book Ten Years in the Tub made me throw out a bunch of spoons I had carved. There are no wooden spoons in the book as far as I know. It’s a compilation of ten years’ worth of his column “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” that runs in the magazine Believer. A few times in the book, Hornby points out that many readers pick up some books, start them, find out they hate them, but feel they have to finish…which leads to a lengthy drawn-out period reading a book you can’t stand. He urges people to ditch those books that are dragging your down, and go read something else.

housefull

One of yesterday’s chores was to photograph stuff for here and for Maureen’s etsy site. Among the stuff I shot was a bunch of spoons I’ve had in the works for a while. Turns out I hated 1/3 of them. So I threw them into the compost. A couple of the keepers, I turned into  a palimpsest of sorts; I recarved bits of them. This one had a large, boring-shaped bowl. Having nothing to lose, I picked up a knife, and had at it.

pailmpsest to be

So today, it’s a spoon day.. thanks to Nick Hornby. I’ll show you what happened to that large birch spoon later…

 

Curtis' spoon

 

Depends on the chairmaker, I guess. It starts with this spoon that arrived in my mailbox one day. I told you I have a great mailbox. Curtis Buchanan made it; sent it with no note, just the spoon. (great article by & about Curtis in Fine Woodworking recently – glad I stumbled into it)

Then Tim Manney posted stuff on his blog about some whacky idea about making spoon crooks by steam-bending the blanks. http://timmanneychairmaker.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-few-spoons-and-dissection.html

Turns out that’s what Curtis did. And then Tim went totally full-tilt-bozo with the idea. And makes outstanding spoons this way; steam-bent, drawknife, shaving horse. Sounds like chairmakers to me.

Tim's spoon 1

 

tim's spoon bowl

Tim's spoon detail

tim's spoon

Tim gave us a run-down of his techniques. Says it starts with “it’s hard to find crooks” so he makes ‘em. Shaved green, tries to follow the growth ring, so very carefully shaved. Then steamed, and clamped to a form for 12 hours.

 

steambent crooks

 

Then, no axe – just goes to the shaving horse and gets his very sharp drawknife and goes to it. He draws the shape on there, and starts in defining the outline of the spoon.

drawknife work 2

 

Here he’s using the drawknife to come down the bowl, towards the neck or stem of the spoon.
drawknife stop cut

 

Next he shaves along the side of the handle, towards the relief cut he just defined. Very precise, deliberate cuts. One false move…

drawknife work

 

Then knife work. He hollows the bowl with a gouge, (see previous post) -

Tmi knife work

 

It’s one of those things that I don’t want to do; but I really admire Tim’s approach and his work. Both are great. It was a real thrill to have Tim around this weekend at Lie-Nielsen, I know the students dug it too.

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/

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