what ever happened to the boiled potato?

Last week we had a great snowstorm. so I pulled up a chair, got out the binoculars and spoon knives and had at it…

last week
out the window

In between watching out the window, I got to do the knife work on  some cherry and birch spoons.

carving by window
Photo by Daniel
carving by window 2
also by Daniel

Last summer I asked Drew Langsner, “what happened to the boiled potato?” – for those puzzled by this, we learned years ago to rub a green-carved spoon with boiled potato, then we could sit the spoon near a heat source, and it would dry without cracking or checking. Drew replied “microwave.” – seems he would give his spoons a blast in the micro to drive the moisture out. a few seconds every so often over & over til the spoon was dry. It works.  Then when the spoon is dry, you can make your final cuts that will leave a clean, burnished surface. I tried a few in our microwave – ours is very noisy; so it drives me crazy. And it left some weird discoloration on birch spoons…

So I boiled a potato and tried the “old” method, old because I learned it in 1988 from Jogge…

boiling spuds
many spoons’ worth of boiled potato

I rubbed it all over three birch spoons I carved this afternoon. We’ll see what kind of shape they’re in tomorrow. The snow is all but gone…here’s hoping for more. 

applying potato to green cut spoon
carved today, finish tomorrow?

Maureen has added a bunch of stuff to her Etsy site, and while it’s still cold enough for woolens, she says spring stuff will be coming up soon…  http://www.etsy.com/shop/MaureensFiberArts

On another note, yesterday marked the death of Pete Seeger – a true American hero to many, me included. Here’s my vote for why he was such a great figure – his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee – read about it here: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/01/28/pete_seeger_huac_transcript_full_text_of_anti_communist_hearing_courtesy.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

So Long, Pete, It’s been good to know ya…


8 thoughts on “what ever happened to the boiled potato?

  1. Peter, So nice to hear your mention the potato. I’ve used it and it works great as a semipermeable membrane. I noticed that it tends to “draw out” and absorb moisture while being applied. I started using it in 96, when I started seriously carving green wooden spoons. I do have a question: What was used to prevent spoons from cracking before the nroduction of he potato n Europe? Rutabaga’s? ;-)

  2. I’m going to try this. I don’t have big problems with spoons cracking whilst drying, but if it speeds up the process that would be a good thing. Hate microwaves, we ditched ours. It was noisy too (not quite as bad as a chainsaw, you know but.) and it took up a lot of worktop space. The clothes drying machine is bad too. I think it’s that continuous rumble, has much less grace than a sound of chopping.

  3. It went the way of Randolph Scott:

    Everybody knows when you go to the show
    You can’t take the kids along
    You’ve gotta read the paper and know the code
    Of G, PG and R and X
    And you gotta know what the movie’s about
    Before you even go
    Tex Ritter’s gone and Disney’s dead
    And the screen is filled with sex

    Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
    Ridin’ the trail alone
    Whatever happened to Gene and Tex
    And Roy and Rex, the Durango kid
    Oh whatever happened to Randolph Scott
    His horse, plain as can be
    Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
    Has happened to the best of me

    Everybody’s tryin’ to make a comment
    About our doubts and fears
    “True grits” the only movie
    I’ve really understood in years
    You gotta take your analyst along
    To see if it’s fit to see
    Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
    Has happened to the industry

    Whatever happened to Johnny Mack Brown
    And Alan Rocky Lane
    Whatever happened to Lash Larue
    I’d love to see them again
    Whatever happened to smiley Burnett
    Tim Holt and Gene Audry
    Whatever happened to all of these
    Has happened to the best of me

    Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
    Has happened to the industry

  4. Peter Seeger said one of his regrets was joining the Communist Party…which he denounced in the 1950’s ..yes it has been good to know ya…

  5. Hi Peter, Not that I know, but why not throw a few spoons in with the potato. Maybe something good would happen. Turners do something like that.

    Regards, Andy

    Sent from my iPad


  6. How long does it take for spoons to dry after soaking them in flax oil? Is there anything you do with them during that time after initially wiping off the oil? Many thanks.

  7. I hear a lot of talk about spoons cracking when drying but this only happened to me once when I made the beginners mistake leaving the pith in the final spoon and I don’t mind waiting for the spoon to dry on its own.
    It is quite sad about Pete Seeger. A friend of mine met him at a bus station in New York. Pete was picking up cigarette butts in the parking lot. It is hard to think of the wealth of knowledge and folk tradition that died with him and a joy to think of how much of it he has saved.

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