Greenwood Fest 2017 instructor: Jane Mickelborough

Registration for Greenwood Fest opens this coming Wednesday January 4th. http://www.greenwoodfest.org/  I’ll have reminders here, and the Plymouth CRAFT newsletter will announce it too. Sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t already (under the “registration” tab on the GWF site).

I have not got to all the instructor profiles yet – there’s a few more returning instructors, but here’s another new one for us, Jane Mickelborough.

 

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When I went to Spoonfest & Täljfest last summer, several times I said “It’s like the internet has come to life!” – it was so much fun to meet all these people that I had only seen on the web. And to see their spoons and other works in the “flesh” – there’s no comparison. Jane Mickelborough was one spoon carver I was particularly interested in meeting. Her work caught my attention several years ago, probably through her participation in Spoonfest. We’re thrilled that she’s coming from her home in Brittany to Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2017 in June. From Jane’s blurb about her work:

“I have been carving all my life, from blocks of soap at the age of five, to carving wooden spoons which I started about six years ago.

As well as teaching at home, at Spoonfest and last year at Täljfest in Sweden, I organise an annual green wood working festival where I live, in Brittany, France.

Although I do different types of green wood-working, I am particularly fascinated by wooden spoons – what appear to be simple, everyday objects are, in fact, very subtle three-dimensional shapes. The variability of the wood itself means that making a beautiful, functional wooden spoon is a real challenge that is never the same twice.

I am particularly interested in the traditional decorated spoons that used to be made in Brittany. These intricately decorated spoons, which were often made to fold, were used at weddings and festivals, where it was usual to bring your own spoon and knife.”

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It’s Jane’s work studying and learning how to make the traditional Breton spoons that particularly catches my eye. It’s nice to see someone taking on their local history, refreshing to see something so different from what many of us are carving for spoons. I saw her presentation at Täljfest about the wax inlaid Breton spoons, it was very nicely done. She’s offering a 2-day class on the folding spoons, as well as a presentation about her research and some demos & workshops on the chip-carving and inlay. Her website is www.chatquilit.com   and her Instagram is https://www.instagram.com/janespoons/  

antique-folding-spoon

Jane writes:   “The old spoon is in the Musée de Bretagne at Rennes. It is listed as coming from ‘Cornouaille’ which is fairly general for south Brittany. There is no date given, but mid-19th century is likely. From it’s general shape and hinge pattern I suspect it is from the Vannes area (the south east of Brittany) rather than the southwest. This is because the chip carving is left open, and not inlaid with coloured wax. Also, the hinge is relatively narrow, rather than flat and broad in the typical Quimper style.  There are quite a few documented spoons from around Vannes that are this rather graceful shape. It is made of pear wood, which in itself is unusual – most are box.  It measures 17.6cm by 4.5cm  photo @Collection Musée de Bretagne, Rennes.”

Here’s her spoon, based only on the photograph, she’s yet to see that spoon in person!

janes-folding-spoon-2

 

janes-chip-carving

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

Greenwood Fest instructors: JoJo Wood

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It’s spoon-heavy this time at Greenwood Fest. For several reasons, primarily because I went to Spoonfest last summer & got to meet a bunch of new people. But…in any event, this spoon carver was coming back no matter what. JoJo Wood was one of the first choices last year, and so again for 2017.

If you are paying attention to spoon carving craze that’s sweeping the world, JoJo is one of the highlights. Her work just stands out in many ways.

JoJo spoon

In the first Greenwood Fest, she brought along her clog knives, and showed us how she roughs out the wooden blanks for the soles of the leather-topped clogs.

jojo

And otherwise, she carved spoons. Her 2-day class in carving eating spoons produced some of the nicest spoons – there were no clunkers at all. Step-by-step she showed how she uses the hatchet and knives to work a disciplined shape that performs just as it should.

do what I'm doing

JoJo & I were on the festival circuit last summer; here in Plymouth, then England & Sweden in August. I got to see a lot of her carving, and it keeps getting better. I wrote a profile of her & her work in Popular Woodworking Magazine, #229, December, 2016.

JoJo hewn spoon

Come see for yourself. Your spoons will take off. Her eating spoon class before the festival is not to be missed. We expect it to sell out, so if you want to get in it, registration opens January 4th. http://www.greenwoodfest.org/  I’ll have reminders here, and the Plymouth CRAFT newsletter will announce it too. sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t already (under the “registration” tab on the GWF site). 

Greenwood Fest 2017 instructors: Tim Manney

Tim Manney is one of our returning instructors from the first Greenwood Fest for 2017.

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If I had Tim’s talent with my ego, I’d take over the woodworking world. But Tim is very humble and quiet, which can sometimes fool you. There’s lots to learn from him. Last spring at the Greenwood Fest, he demonstrated his ladderback chairmaking techniques, along with teaching a class in making steam-bent spoons. Tim recently taught a sharpening class with Plymouth CRAFT that really took off; so much so that he’s slated to teach another 2-day class in sharpening before the festival.

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In the sharpening class, he was able to help people re-grind hatchets to a shape more conducive to perfect slicing action, everyone worked at sharpening and honing their sloyd knives; tackled tricky shapes like gouges – there was nothing they wouldn’t take on. Many were beginners, but several (including me) had been around edges for ages…there was much to learn. It made us scramble around to find more things to sharpen – it was that good. So sharpening your tools with Tim before the festival will put you in the best position there is…perfect edges, ready for wood!

hollow-ground-hatchet

We had no sharpening topic in our first version of the fest, and there were times when people were left knowing their tools needed attention, but we had nothing to help them with. That’s fixed this time around, thanks to Tim.

Tim’s range of ability is broad –  chair-making, tool making (reamers are a specialty of his, and his adze is really a beautifully simple tool), spoon carving and more. One additional idea he had was a demo of hickory bark seating. If you met Tim last year, or at one of his other appearances around the woodworking circuit, then you know how engaging his presentations are…if you have yet to meet him, this is your chance.

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Tim’s ladderback chair from Greenwood Fest, w hickory bark seat

Jögge Sundqvist at TEDxUmea

One of the highlight’s of last year’s Greenwood Fest put on by Plymouth CRAFT was the presentation by Jogge Sundqvist called Rhythm & Slojd…
for a long time, a short version was available on the web. then it was gone. Now it’s back. but for the real thing, get on Plymouth CRAFT’s newsletter mailing list, so you find out about Greenwood Fest 2017 – http://www.plymouthcraft.org/contact

more inspiration from the Season of Fests

more-inspiration

Recently I wrote about inspiration in the form of a slew of new books. There was more inspiration stemming from the Season of the Fest – Greenwood Fest, Spoonfest, Täljfest and beyond. Here’s a few items I gathered; some gifts, most purchased, from some of the people I worked alongside.

Many of the spoons came from Spoonfest. First (for no reason other than I photographed it first) is a large serving spoon by Jan Harm ter Brugge. http://www.houtvanbomen.com/HoutvanBomen/houtvanbomen-_English_summary.html

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Jan harm ter Brugge

A nice beech plate from Owen Thomas, nice person, nice plate. https://www.instagram.com/owenthomaswoodcraft/

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Owen Thomas

Eating spoons – one from Simon Hill. Part of the “internet came alive” phenomenon for me, was seeing Simon’s work. https://simonhillgreenwoodwork.wordpress.com/gallery/

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Simon Hill
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Simon Hill

Another eater. Magnus Sundelin made it. Forgot he sold it to me, & panicked, thinking it was lost when he went to show it to his students! https://www.instagram.com/sloydmagnus/

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Magnus Sundelin
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Magnus Sundelin

Another British wonder – Adam Hawker. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005448825480  great stuff.

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Adam Hawker

2 by Beth Moen, https://www.instagram.com/bethsusana/ bookended my Season of Fests w Beth at Greenwood Fest in June & Täljfest in August.

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Beth Moen
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Beth Moen

A wooden spoon finished with urushi lacquer by Madoka, Masashi Kutsuwa’s wife. Wow. Here’s Masashi’s page, I can’t find anything by Madoka… https://www.instagram.com/masashi_kutsuwa/ and https://www.facebook.com/masashi.kutsuwa

madoka-spoon
Madoka
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Madoka

Dave Fisher’s duck bowl. You’ve seen his work by now, right? https://davidffisherblog.wordpress.com/

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Dave Fisher
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Dave Fisher

Jarrod Stone Dahl’s birch work. My 2nd one of his, this one is a birch sleeve, slipped off the log intact. That forms the inside, then it’s wrapped with a sheet of bark that is joined together with the decorative interlocking tabs. https://www.instagram.com/jarrodstonedahl/

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Jarrod Stone Dahl
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Jarrod Stone Dahl

A small eating spoon by Derek Sanderson – in cherry. Derek can stop himself.. https://www.instagram.com/dcsandersoninc/

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Derek Sanderson

While looking a few things up for this post, I found this video from Taljfest, by Niklas Karlsson – here’s his Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/_ahardslojdlife/

Thanks for posting it Niklas, I got to see stuff I missed!

Inspired

Pete Seeger's banjo

I told you I feel inspired. I remember when Pete Seeger died, I searched the web for a photo of his banjo – this week it served as an idea for some wood carving. I’ve had these items rattling around the house since Greenwood Fest; further inspiration. A bowl by Dave Fisher, large spoon Beth Moen, small spoon Derek Sanderson.

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So I weighed this piece of wood one more time, and  got the same weight as recorded here in April & early June – 14 oz.

weight loss record

here’s where it will go, a replacement handle for my old Viking-style hatchet.

old & new handles

Here is recto:

axe recto

and verso:

axe verso

a favorite quote from Bill Coperthwaite, found in his book A Handmade Life.

I plan on carving spoons this weekend at the Lie-Nielsen Open House, with this hatchet. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events/USA/109

Meanwhile, some birds around the workshop project, which is roof shingling.

female downy woodpecker (right) feeding male young.

feed me

white breasted nuthatch.

wb nuthatch

red tailed hawk, every day being chased off by grackles, blackbirds, blue jays – you name it, they chase ’em.

rt hawk

Red bellied woodpecker.

rb woodpecker