I’m working on getting Barn the Spoon to come back to Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest next June. He’s supposed to be checking his schedule & getting back to me…but he’s probably busy turning the world onto spoon carving. I met Barn last summer when I finally made it over to Spoonfest (the inspiration for our Greenwood Fest) which he & Robin Wood started 6 or 7 years ago. Right away, I knew I like Barn. He’s infectious in a good way. Attending one of these festivals is just an incredible experience. Not everyone can make it of course. Barn has you covered. I just saw an announcement about the American version of his English book Spon. Here’s the blurb about the English version. I can’t imagine how different the American version can be – https://barnthespoon.com/courses-books-gifts/spon-learn-to-carve-spoons-with-barn-the-spoon
But it gets better. Barn and his colleagues at the Greenwood Guild run many courses both in London and Bristol, http://thegreenwoodguild.com/ – “but I’m a long way from there, what do I do?” you ask…
Here is a sample video, mostly about an introduction to the knife.
The ever-expanding video library right now has these categories:
The Basics, Tools & Kit, Knife Grips, Axe Work, How to Carve a Spoon, Tool Sharpening, The 16 spoons, Q&A –
I just checked a couple headings – there’s 8 videos under The Basics; under Knife Grips 9 individual videos. 10 under How to Carve a Spoon. You get the idea, lots of information and more all the time.
Some are 4-5 minutes, some in the 20-25 minute range and several are close to an hour long. If you want an immersion experience with spoon carving, and stay at home – this is it. Watch for his Plymouth CRAFT hat…
It’s been ages and ages since I did any turning on a regular basis. I have a lot of it coming up this fall and winter, and in preparation for that work, I decided to start with some joined stools. The first one is in walnut instead of oak.
My lathe is the last piece in the workshop puzzle; as it is now, it’s been buried under/behind 2 chests, and all sorts of wood, projects, etc. So I shoved all that aside and turned these stiles recently. I started the first session with sharpening the gouges and skews, and turned one stile. So the next morning I did the other three. I’ve covered this stuff in the joined stool book and the wainscot chair video with Lie-Nielsen – but here’s some of it. First off, mark the centers on each end. I scribed the diagonal lines, then set a compass to see what size circle, and how centered it was (or wasn’t). I decided it needed a nudge a bit this way & that – so when I punched the center, I moved a little bit over.
Then rough out the cylindrical bits –
Then I use a story-stick to mark where to cut the various elements of the turnings, here one cove is cut and I’m lining up the stick to locate the other details.
I alternate between a skew chisel and narrow gouges to form the shapes.
Once I was finished with the turnings, time to bore the tenons for the pins, and assemble. Here, roman numerals ID the stretcher-to-stile.
Mark the joint, and bore the peg hole in the tenon.
No one, NO ONE, likes the way I shave pegs. I’ve done thousands this way, and it seems to work for me.
The peg-splitting & shaving tools; cleaver (riving knife) by Peter Ross; tapered reamer by Mark Atchison (for opening holes when the offset for drawboring is too severe), 2″ framing chisel.
Make a bunch of tapered pins and hammer them in one-by-one. I line it up over a hole in the bench so the pin can exit.
After assembling two sections, then knock in the angled side rails, and pin the whole thing.
Frame assembled, wants some walnut for the seat board. I have a wood-shopping trip coming up…I don’t have 11″ wide walnut around.
It was not the best light for me, my camera shoots kinda dark. But here’s some of what I got that day:
Egrets were the bird of the day; both snowy (Egretta thula) and great (Ardea alba) – here’s one of the great egrets:
a bunch of the snowies:
They weren’t the only long-legged waders around though – we saw Great Blue Herons now and then (Ardea herodias)
A juvenile Northern Harrier – (Circus cyaneus )
The swallows were really the most impressive sight. Their numbers were out of this world. They’re “staging” – stopping here to feed and gather in huge flocks for migration. Many (most/all?) of these are tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) – there’s no way this photo or any photo captures the impact of seeing this many birds. they were in constant motion, and the sound of them hitting the water to feed on insects was LOUD.
Here they are streaming through a gap in some trees, just an amazing sight.
I never skip a chance to watch cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) this one was very cooperative
A couple of days later, at Pret & Paula’s house, an eastern screech owl (Megascops asio). Too distant for my camera, but such a treat to see it poking out of this dead tree:
Then this morning, the flock of common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) with some other blackbirds mixed in, come streaming up from the marsh just around sunrise:
I just finished carving the 8th & final panel for the bedstead I have underway. There’s 4 patterns I used, each one repeats twice. most of them are patterns I made up, but drawn from a large body of work I have covered here a few times. The carvings that are the inspiration come from Devon, England and Ipswich, Massachusetts. I love these designs because they are so lively, and have so much variety.
Lately I’ve been trying to draw the designs – to try to learn how to talk about them – the parts, components and how they get combined. When I first saw these panels, I thought they must be the most involved carvings – but really they’re just busy…there’s very little background removed. Most of the impact is from the “horror vacuui” effect of covering every blessed surface with something. (This next one was a mistake – the board was 10″ wide, too narrow for the bedstead.)
These patterns have a few common elements/motifs – most have an arch across the top of the panel. there are a few exceptions, but generally I carve the arch-top versions. All of these have an urn/vase/flowerpot just above the bottom/center of the panel. Then some leafy bits/leaves/flowers coming up and spreading out from this urn. I tend to think of the designs being broken into thirds – though not necessarily even thirds.
Some wind up from the urn through the middle of the panel, then wind outward and reverse direction into the arch. Mostly these also bend downward, looping back toward the middle of the panel. In this case, there’s 3 tulip shapes inside this arc, then the big leafy bit that fills the bottom corner:
This pattern is easiest on wide stock, at least 10″ of carving space-width. This one, a chest I have copied a few times, the panel is 12 3/4″ wide x 15″ tall. Compare it to the narrow version above – I think it works better on the wide stock.
On this panel from the bedstead a single flower replaces the 3 tulips, same leaf at the bottom though:
Sometimes from the urn you get large shapes flowing almost horizontally out from the middle. these often have double-volute-ish scrolls where they hit the edges of the panel The one heading down then flows into a leaf shape that bends right against the bottom of the urn. This one is from the extra-wide muntin of the same chest –
Here’s the front of that chest – I copied the proportions and all the vertical bits from 2 examples I’ve seen in person, one other I know from a photograph. All were initialed & dated on the muntin; 1666, 1669 & 1682 for the dates. I substituted different (related) designs on the horizontal rails; and in this case added brackets underneath the bottom rail.
These carving often employ a three-part leaf, which is standard in the related S-scrolls – (seen here on a period box from Ipswich)
and on the panels this form is used again & again, inside spaces, between elements – it can be like this:
or like this part, just before it winds into the bottom of the arch:
Or along the side of the panel:
Hard to see it upside down, here it is from a period piece, the shape I’m thinking of is between the bottom of the arch and blends into the margin just above the large bottom leaves:
The bits flowing up from the urn that then turn down to the bottom corners can take several forms as well. The one I used at the top of this post is simple, big fat leafy shapes bending up then down. They split into three parts at the bottom – one to the corner, one to the feet/urn junction, and one between. Fill the spaces with gouge-cuts, and call it done.
as a drawing:
I could go on forever, but this post has taken long enough. A few more panels of my work:
This one hangs in our kitchen, done in Alaska yellow cedar:
This oak panel was an experiment, I mostly like it, but rejected it for the bedstead:
This one took its place:
Here’s an example (a combination of 2 period carvings) of one of these panels without an arch:
Some items finished up lately. The first two in a series of bird bowls. I had some very large crooks recently, made some large spoons then dedicated some of these oversized crooks to bowls. And, a small run of straight-grained serving/cooking spoons.
I got some questions about the bowls, what does the blank look like? – here is a roughed-out bowl superimposed on top of its other half of the crook – had to cradle the crook in a notched block so it would stand for its photo. Gives some idea of where you can find these in a tree. They can be trouble to split. This one was 5″ in diameter, and 24″ tip to tip. Cherry.
and here is that roughed-out bowl grabbed between two wooden bench dogs – this is how I get at it to do the gouge work. If I keep getting crooks like this, I’m going to make a larger more robust set of these dogs. Note the notches in the inside faces.
If you would like to order a spoon or bowl, just leave a comment here about which one you’d like. Then I can send a paypal invoice, or you can mail a check the old fashioned way. Either one is fine with me. Prices include shipping in the US – further afield and I’ll figure an additional shipping charge. Thanks as always for the support.
All these items are finished with food-grade flax oil.
cherry bird bowl –
L: 15″ H: (at front) 7 1/4″
Birch bowl – SOLD L: 10 3/4″ H: (at front) 7 1/4″
Aug spoon 1 – cherry, crook. This spoon blank left me with a very long, narrow bowl. Overall a long spoon. Great crook shape, I couldn’t resist.
L: 13 7/8″ W: 2 1/8″
$125 includes shipping in US
Large cherry crook #3 – SOLD
L: 13″ W: 3 1/2″
$150 includes shipping in US
Large cherry crook #2
L: 13″ W: 4″
$150 includes shipping in US.
Now, a series of straight-grained spoons for cooking or serving.
Today, birds and birds. This first one in American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) – is going to get painted on the outside, then carved through the paint.
This tiny one, split out with the guidance of Dave Fisher, is birch – I forget which one. No paint, just carved today. Some spoons getting finished up in preparation for this weekend’s Lie-Nielsen workshop – full this time. More spoon carving classes to be announced through Plymouth CRAFT soon.
Then, some photos plucked off the card. Down river:
Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus ) I assume juvenile male turning to adult. The female doesn’t usually show the red, I believe.
yellow warbler. (Setophaga petechia) they are quieter now than in the spring, so I just happened to notice this one skulking around.
I pretend I exist in a bubble or cocoon. Each day I’m at home, I get up & have breakfast with the family, and then make my way out the back door to the workshop. Open up the windows to let in the sounds of the birds, check the river – tide in or out? Coming or going? And then sort the day’s projects – am I cutting these mortises, carving which pieces – most of my concerns are about really great quality oak, sharp tools, and learning from studies of period pieces…
And it goes like that day in & day out. Which hatchet? Are these bowls dry enough for the next step? Ah, I figured out what design to carve for that panel. Then, time to clean up the place and re-set the bench…
All the ordinary stuff is an intrusion – have to go to the dump, the bank, did I pay the bills? I just want to get back to work in the shop. All of that is just like the rest of us.
Every so often, I traipse out into the world to teach a workshop, deliver a lecture/demonstration – that sort of thing. And those audiences are pre-disposed to receive what I have to give. An interest in woodworking, furniture history, spoon carving – they’re already converts. But I know although we have woodworking interests in common, there can and will be things we don’t have in common. And that’s usually fine with me. I can get past a lot of stuff, and concentrate on our shared interests. And it has always been a great kick for me to come together with people I might otherwise not connect to…
This year, it’s been tricky, with the political climate in America and the world. I have specifically stated in many of my classes – “No politics, please.” Just to avoid the issue. Trying to be polite…and it has worked thus far.
Like I said, I can get past a lot of stuff. But…not racism. Not Nazis marching in the streets of 21st-century America. That shit doesn’t fly. Everyone should be against that…none of this “many sides” crap.
So…in the hopefully unlikely event that some of my readers are sympathetic with the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, etc that were on display down in Charlottesville this past weekend, – if that’s you – please un-subscribe to my blog. Please stop following me on Instagram, FB…please don’t come to my classes. Please don’t buy my book, videos, spoons, etc.