What’s missing on the blog lately? Birds for sure. Just haven’t had much time to find them lately. The bay has been filling up with winter ducks, and these brant geese.
Also shot this photo – made me think of the song “Twa Corbies”
The other missing thing is spoons. I thought I’d carve a lot this summer, but didn’t get to it. Too much travel, etc. But I finally got around to finishing a few, along with the first of the baskets and more. So if you’d like to have a look – here’s the page, or the top of the blog will get you there too.
there’s many different ways to weave the round-bottom baskets; but I only know one. well, I used to know it. I use 16 uprights, laid out in 2 batches of 8. One of the first 8 uprights is split to create an odd number so the weaving can continue in a spiral up & around the basket. I’ve woven these for years, formerly more often than lately; but I did one just two weeks ago to prepare for Plymouth CRAFT class I had a week ago.
at that class, I fell flat on my face. The students were amazing, they took to pounding out ash splints like crazy; and each of them wove up either a square-to-round basket or rectangular to oval basket on the first day. (group photo by Marie Pelletier)
I went home that night thinking, this’ll be great – tomorrow they can make more splints and we’ll weave the round bottom…except they got tired. And I lost my way – and couldn’t get the bottoms started right. For the life of me, I couldn’t see what was wrong…I had several examples right there in front of me. I almost took one apart! I knew the problem was when to bring in the 2nd batch of 8 uprights. That’s what I kept messing up.
I came home & the next couple of days I wove 4 of them. Got it nailed, now. I never really taught basket making before, and having to explain something really pushes you…here’s how I actually weave a round bottom (also termed a “double bottom”) basket. I make 16 uprights. These were about 15” long, I made a mark the mid-point of each upright. Just fold the strip in half, and scribe with a pencil. then mark out from that in both directions, say 4”. Take a pair of scissors and cut an hourglass shape on each upright. This cut comes in just beyond the outer marks, tapers down quite narrow for where it crosses the mid-point. the idea is to make these uprights narrow where they all fan out in the middle. ‘
Now, take the 1st eight, and lay them down with the inside of the basket facing up. First two form a cross, then diagonals each way.
then keep adding pairs of uprights, splitting the spaces. the eighth one has been trimmed so one end of it down to the mid-point has been cut in half. This creates the odd number of uprights. As I said, there’s lots of ways to lay these out; this falls under the line “You do it like that?”
Now a narrow thin weaver starts right in at the split upright. I snug the end into the split, and then over one/under one as it winds around the spokes formed by the uprights. this is tight curves, so the weaver wants to be thin. and narrow. but I already told you that…
a few trips around and it begins to look like something. Soon, you’ll need to add the 2nd set of 8 uprights. These get laid in place, one by one, and woven down to the mat created by weaving the the first 8. And this is where I messed up. But what I found out is it matters where and when you add the next uprights. You want to start laying in the new batch when the weaver is coming from underneath the split upright.
This way you’re binding the new uprights down to the first batch. It’s so simple and logical, but my fuddled head just couldn’t get it while under the gun.
Good judgement is the result of experience, and experience is the result of poor judgement. yeah, right. Like that.
Back in 1988, I met Jögge Sundqvist while I was the intern at Country Workshops, Drew & Louise Langsner’s school for green woodworking. Jögge came to teach a class that summer, and to shoot a video for Taunton Press on spoon & bowl carving. The video is a companion to his father Wille’s book Swedish Carving Techniques. He and I were both younger then,
While he & I were together in Maine in September, I floated the idea of coming back for Greenwood Fest in June 2016. And he said yes. Enough blather. Here’s Jögge’s blurb, in English.
“I am working with handtools in the self-sufficient scandinavian fine craft tradition, making stools, chairs, cupboards, knifes, spoons, sculpture and shelves painted with artist oil colour. Since the age of 4 I learned using the knife and the axe by my father Wille Sundqvist. Educated at the fine woodcraft Vindeln folkhighscool 1982 – 84. Under the name s u r o l l e I runa professional small business since 1999 where I make sloyd and fine craft. I also teach and give lectures, and write books.”
Another in a series of instructor profiles for Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2016. Dates are June 10-12, 2016 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Details in the next few weeks, we’ll announce registration with plenty of notice here, at http://plymouthcraft.org/ and facebook, etc…
This instructor announcement wasn’t hard – Jarrod Stone Dahl will indeed be travelling with his wife April. So we get a one-two punch. It’s hard to miss Jarrod’s work if you’ve been following the trajectory of “green woodworking” in recent years. He’s someone who is dedicated to making functional and beautiful spoons, bowls, birch-bark work (anyone need a canoe?) and more. Jarrod & I have corresponded for years, but finally got to meet up last spring when I made a short trip out to North House Folk School, where he is a regular instructor. One of the most appealing aspects of his work for me is his philosophy about handcrafts and their place in our lives. See his post about Spoon-a-geddon on his blog for example.
“Jarrod has been working with wood and birch bark professionally since 1996. He and his wife April both make and sell their handcrafts for a living through their business Woodspirit. http://woodspirithandcraft.com/
He teaches workshops across the country and internationally. Over the years he has gained extensive knowledge and experience while making birch bark baskets, birch bark boxes, wooden spoons and bowls, as well as cradle boards, birch bark canoes, snowshoes and toboggans.
His main focus is woodturning using only a foot powered lathe and carving spoons with axe and knife. He has spent time in museum archives in the US, Sweden and the UK, studying and researching older work which is a very influential part of his inspiration as a craftsperson. Jarrod brings extensive knowledge of harvesting natural materials, the use of hand tools, and a deeper philosophical, historical and pragmatic approach to handcrafts to his work and his workshops.”
Jarrod has been a part of Spoonfest in the UK and Täljfest in Sweden. I’m very excited to have both Jarrod and April out east here for Greenwood Fest. All the photos here are by Jarrod Stone Dahl, of his work.
One aspect of green woodworking that never ceases to amaze me is ash basketry. Every time I’ve pounded apart an ash log, I‘m in awe when I see the growth rings delaminate perfectly. The resulting splints by themselves are rather fragile – but when woven together create a basket that will last generations. I’ve been concentrating on basket-making this week, so it’s fitting to introduce our next instructor for Greenwood Fest 2016, April Stone Dahl.
I have not met April, but have followed her work, and her husband Jarrod’s, through their website and blog, http://woodspirithandcraft.com/ When we at Plymouth CRAFT began talking about a festival for greenwood crafts, I knew I wanted to invite April to show us her basket work. The requisite blurb:
“April is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa/Ojibwe. She began her study in black ash basketry in the spring of 1998 after her husband had woven his first basket. After spending the remainder of the year examining his basket and how it worked, a great understanding and respect for what the basket had showed her took hold. In the spring of 1999, she wove her first basket. From that point on, her time was spent weaving one basket after another. Through this process of being mostly self-taught, she was able to learn firsthand how ratios and proportions and thicknesses played a role in the making of aesthetically pleasing utilitarian baskets, as well as suitable tree selection and harvesting living trees from the swamp. In the fall of 2000, she taught her first class.
Since the humble beginnings of her work with ash basketry, April has not only learned a great deal about this type of splint work, but shares it with anyone who has an interest. She has provided demonstrations and tailored workshops for after school programs, libraries, college classrooms, folk schools, high risk youth programs, art centers, tribes and cultural events, while working out of her home, in her community, regionally and internationally.
Through the years she searched for other native basket weavers in the area, which historically had many, but found only a few and many were not currently weaving. She came to realize she was the only ash basket-weaver making baskets in her band and among just a hand full in all of the northern Chippewa/Ojibwe in Wisconsin.
In the near 17 years that April has spent weaving, selling, teaching and researching black ash basketry, she has gained much insight into what makes a really good splint basket. She lives with her husband, Jarrod, and their 4 children on the Bad River Indian reservation in northern WI., where she enjoys reading, home-schooling, eating good food and exploring her cultural connections with handcraft.”
April’s work helps us to see that green woodworking is more than spoons and chairs. One more reason that even I can’t wait for this event. Here’s some pictures, this first one I love – I think of it as “In with the old, out with the new” as the basket replaces the plastic bag…
Here’s the back yard one morning this week. No pictures of my work these days, I’ve been working up some ash splints for the basket class…just didn’t shoot it much.
For those asking about the Greenwood Fest, 2016 – a couple of things. We’re glad you’re excited about it. We are too. Don’t worry, you won’t miss the announcement when we’re ready to open registration. Right now, Paula Marcoux and I are working on some details, (along with Plymouth CRAFT’s board & numerous other affiliated folks) and talking to the instructors about what they’d like to present. Then we have to figure out some logistics, etc. But you will hear on this blog, on facebook. IG, Plymouth CRAFT’s website http://plymouthcraft.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/CRAFTPlymouth/?fref=ts and elsewhere AHEAD of time…I know it’s a nuisance waiting to hear all the juicy bits, but hang in there. More instructor announcements next week too.
I have had my camera out while walking some. Sort of in between birds these days.
Spring of 2014. There I was. Just finished shooting my video Carving Wooden Spoons with Lie-Nielsen https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/carving-wooden-spoons-with-peter-follansbee. Just gave notice to my then-employers that I was striking out on my own. And, off for a great vacation to Lake Woebegon to meet Jarrod Stone Dahl and Robin Wood – enrolled as a student in Robin’s first bowl turning class at North House Folk School.
While farting around the shop there in the evenings, I got out my spoon knives and did some carving. After one particular dismal outing, up comes JoJo Wood – she looks at my spoon & says, “I can show you a good way to shape a spoon from a straight-grained blank” – so there & then I got a real eye-opening lesson from someone who was not even born when I first carved spoons! And glad I was. JoJo knows what she’s about…
The lesson? We can learn from all kinds of people, young & old. Woodworking instructors don’t have to be 60-yr old grey-haired men.
And, now – your turn. JoJo is coming to Greenwood Fest to show us what’s what. Her work is great…she puts more thought into spoons than you can imagine. She really breathes these things. AND – she’s hoping to be able to bring some of her clog-making tools to show us some of that as well. Here’s a blurb she wrote up, at great personal cost to herself.
“A second generation green woodworker, JoJo Wood has been making almost since she could walk. She spent her early years travelling the world with her father, meeting craftspeople and amassing woodwork skills and knowledge, building the perfect foundations for mastering her chosen crafts. She is now one of the UK’s leading spooncarvers, and is training under the last of the English clogmakers, Jeremy Atkinson. JoJo hopes to inspire more women and younger people to get into woodworking, teaching that technique wins over physical strength every time.”