Spoon carving

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I don’t teach or demonstrate spoon carving at the Greenwood Fest. Mainly because we have lots of great spoon carvers there, & I want to concentrate on adding furniture work to that event. I did carve one while Jogge Sundqvist & I did a duo presentation…but the bulk of my handwork there is (and will be in 2017) oak furniture.

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But, I carve spoons a lot. Note, that’s not “I carve a lot of spoons.” There’s a difference, a big difference.

Jarrod carves a lot of spoons. Derek Sanderson too. And Barn carves a lot of spoons. Maybe you’ve been reading Barn Carder’s Advent calendar of spoon carving on his Instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/barnthespoon/   – a really nice thread. I enjoyed it a lot. There was one post yesterday (Dec 23) that got a lot of attention – and I’ll add my two cents’ worth on the thrust of it. Barn outlined some of his criteria for a good spoon, and some of the pitfalls he sees some spoon carvers fall into… here’s a snippet of the post:

“I like my spoons to be functional, and to function well unhindered by style or fashion. As important for me is that the spoons are made with respect to the tools and material. …How often have I heard a maker describe their “work revealing itself from the material” or “the wood talked to me” and thought to myself this is BS. It’s sad because this idea once came from a good place but is now a cliche spouted out by people who often haven’t a clue what they are talking about…”

When I first read it, I thought – what about Jogge Sundqvist and his well-known presentation about the trees talking to him? I’ve now been to Sweden and I think there is magic in the wood-culture there! But I think the tag line in Barn’s “rant” is “this idea once came from a good place…” – he goes on to say there are carvers who haven’t put in the requisite time learning the basics before delving into the far-out end of things – at least that’s how I read it.

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For me, the trees don’t talk to me, but I had 20 minutes of spoon carving this fall that were the best of the whole year. The spoon in the photos here is easily the best spoon I made in 2016. I knew within the first 20 minutes of  working it that this spoon had everything I like about spoon carving. I described it to several people as “this spoon carved itself.” – Of course the spoon didn’t make itself, but there was little I had to do to get the shape to work, and to flow along the grain of that crook. I’m guilty of making really whacky shaped spoons every so often, but I present them as such. This one is both a free-form shape, and a functional spoon – the best of both worlds for me. I don’t have the discipline of Barn, JoJo Wood, Jarrod Stone Dahl (to name a few) to make lots of straight-grained spoons – for me, the fun is in the crooks; finding the right chunk of wood, and getting the spoon from that. I squirreled away some crooks, and over the next couple of weeks I’m going to split ’em & see if I can get back to that 20 minutes of spoon heaven.

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At Greenwood Fest you’ll be inundated with spoon carving – and one thing about that is you can get several different perspectives in one spot. Inspiration abounds. Greenwood Fest 2017 details here – http://www.greenwoodfest.org/

I will teach a few spoon carving weekends in the US in 2017, starting at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in February. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes  – later ones will be at Lie-Nielsen in August and Roy Underhill’s in October. I’ll post my whole schedule next week…I’ll surely do it at Plymouth CRAFT too…

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Spoon carving

  1. Hello Peter,
    To me, your whacky shaped spoons are the very essence of this greenwood, hand tool, sloyd … revolution we are in now. My interest, nay, obsession with greenwood carving came from reading your blog. I think I first heard about Jarrod in your blog.
    We owe you, man. Thanks for being you.

    Merry Christmas
    Tom Goodman

  2. This idea, which I first encountered on your blog, of letting the wood determine the profile of the spoon was a revelation. I also look at trees very differently now. This is a very nice spoon and to achieve that in 20 minutes demonstrates lots of discipline.
    Thanks again for sharing your skills.
    Graeme

    • Thanks Graeme – glad you’re digging it. I tell students once they “see” the spoons in the crooked branches, to be careful driving – distracted by trees – a new driving hazard.
      But let me clarify one point – I didn’t carve that spoon in 20 minutes. It’s just that in the first 20 minutes, I had the whole thing established, & knew from there that it was a great spoon. I then piddle away at it after that for who-knows-how-long…

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