Carving today before I carve this weekend

I am working on another desk box; an oak box with a slanted lid. Mainly I need this for the photos, for an article in the works. The annoying part is that the photos I needed to shoot were the slots/dadoes/what-have-yous on the inside faces of the box’s end boards. But…I don’t like to do the carving after cutting voids into the board. So first, I had to carve them.

This time, I made up the design, drawing from my research (and others’) into the varied carvings coming out of Devon, England. The same style appeared in Ipswich, Massachusetts during the last 3rd of the 17th century. I carve this stuff more than any other grouping, mostly because of its variety. Once you learn the “vocabulary” it’s easy to make up designs willy-nilly.

The desk box ends are weird shapes though. Took a little sketching with some chalk, and some wiping away with a damp cloth – but I got something I like. So then the front board is simple enough – a plain ol’ rectangle. There are three boxes from Devon that seem to be the same carver, or the same general pattern anyway. One of these I photographed back when I worked at Plimoth Plantation, the other two are from a website I subscribe to, Marhamchurch Antiques – http://www.marhamchurchantiques.com/ Paul Fitzsimmons there is a magnet for this Devon/Exeter oak furniture.

I’m going to carve the box front at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on Sunday July 9. from noon to 3pm. I’ll be demonstrating the carving, and some joinery and other oak-y stuff.  http://www.mfa.org/programs/gallery-activities-and-tours/early-american-furniture-carving

 

Here are a few details from the Devon boxes that were the inspiration for my sketch – (the first two from Marhamchurch Antiques, thanks Paul, the 3rd is my photo).

This one had a later escutcheon on it, covering up the pattern. I took it off, so we could see the shape. At that time, I had never seen the previous two.

 

But before I go to Boston to work  on Sunday, I’m off to Maine for the Open House at Lie-Nielsen Friday & Saturday. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events/USA/146

These events are legendary; the lineup this summer is killer. I try to do this show every July…it’s like old home week, seeing all my friends from the hand-tool circus. I guess I was there last summer – found my picture on their Facebook page –

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This time I’ll mostly be carving oak for a bedstead I’m working on. But I have a talk on Saturday about green woodworking, so I’ll do some spoon carving too. See you there I hope.

“warts and all” workshop views

I had this foolish notion that at some point, my new workshop would be all organized and tidy. Presentable. Then I was going to photograph it and post a tour of the shop here on the blog. But…it keeps gathering junk in piles, only to be cleaned up so I could work – and make another mess. I guess that means my shop is “done” as much as it’s going to get. I did write a short piece in Popular Woodworking about it – but here is a short glimpse of what it looks like these days.

Might as well start at the beginning. here’s the view to the door:

Looking through the door, into the room. The carving over the door is a place-holder. there’s a new one coming.


The main workbench. 8′ long. shelves underneath for large planes, boxes of tools like chalkline, hammers, mallets, bench hook and other bench accessories. Racks in the window for marking gauges, awls, chisels, squares – etc.

Same view, but extended to the left – showing the neglected lathe. More later on that.

Looking back toward the door – showing my version of Chris Schwarz’ tool chest.  I couldn’t bear to paint it a solid color…small shelves wedged between the braces and corner posts. Auger bits, sharpening stuff, other odds n ends.


Here is that corner straight on – spoon knives and scratch stocks in boxes… random junk sitting on ledges til I figure it out. Could be years…

The view into the corner beyond the workbench. Cabinet for hatchets, chopping block below.

Patterns and story sticks. they’re everywhere.

I’ve taken this picture many times – it’s just beyond my workbench, the cabinet that houses the hatchets. Recycled wall paneling for the doors.


Half of a Connecticut River carved panel – couldn’t leave that stored in a box…

Inside the cabinet – hatchets, adze, twca cam in 2 sizes –

Like I said, the lathe has had little attention. The current plan is to make a set of shorter beds for it. Right now I can turn a 48″ chair post, but most of my turnings are under 32″ – so I’ll store these beds, make shorter ones, and save a bit of space. Right now, it is a place to pile stuff out of the way. Well, it’s not really out of the way. It’s just a mess. Books and notes to the left.

The old Ulmia workbench is not much better off than the lathe. There’s a shaving horse stuck behind the bedstead-in-progress. The oak desk box will go out of here soon. The baskets too. this junk-gathering place at least changes a lot, unlike the lathe.

that’s it mostly. A stove just after the Ulmia bench. A 12′ x 16′ building doesn’t require a lengthy tour…there is the loft, but I’m not going up there right now. It’s a rabbit hole…

Moe Follansbee knew what’s what

Over two months ago, I lost my everyday knife. I looked everywhere and came up empty. I decided it either broke off the strap, and fell, or got dropped into a bag of shavings & went the way of all things. I have lots of slojd knives – so I could keep carving spoons without any discomfort. But usually I like wearing one for everyday use. I finally gave up looking, and ordered some new blades.   I tried to be positive about it, thinking maybe someone found what would become a really good knife for them.

everyday sloyd
before it was lost

I had the blade since about 1992, it was on its 2nd handle. (I split the first one using the knife like a little froe). When I replaced the handle, I made the sheath. That was about 12 years ago. A friend at the museum made the leather work. Once the new blades arrived, I made a new knife and sheath. It was OK, but not the same.  This one, I tried my hand at the leather, but for one thing my model was gone! Here I am boring out the blank for the handle, to fit the knife’s tang.

Paring the new handle.

here is the end result, works fine. But doesn’t feel right one way or another. The leather I used was too thick for one thing, so it didn’t conform quite as well as I wished. Handle is the only piece of boxwood I had. Why did I try that?

Here’s the knife out of the sheath. It works, I was carving spoons yesterday with it. Clicks into the sheath like it’s supposed to do. I was thinking I’d do it over at some point, but things are getting busy around here right about now. 

Today I was sorting & cleaning inside & out. In the shop, it came time to climb up & hang this year’s Greenwood Fest poster. I’m not a huge poster fan, but Greenwood Fest is a pretty special affair for me, so up it went. Right above last year’s version. While I was there, I grabbed that basket for the tools & materials in it. I made some basket rims & handles from the hickory I wrote about last time, and this week I’ll install them. Needed the clips and other bits in there.

 

And don’t you know – in the basket was my old knife. Made a good day a great one.

It’s always the last place you look, my father used to say.

Spoon carving: knife work & Barn’s book

As I’ve been getting ready for Greenwood Fest 2017, I have carved a few cherry spoons. Last blog post was about hewing the shapes from “crooks” – the curving wood where one branch meets another. https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/hewing-a-spoon-crook/ 

At the end of that post, I coppped out, and went to dinner. Got several requests to “continue after dinner” – but I finished those spoons the next morning. So when I started another, I shot some of the knife work. It’s hard to get this in photos, and equally hard to shoot these without a photographer, but here goes.

I tend to start at the area behind the back of the spoon’s bowl, transitioning to the handle. It’s usually too thick there, so I go there first to remove excess wood. This cut starts at the knife’s “butt” – right near the handle. The fingers of my left hand help push & guide the knife’s blade through the cut. Both elbows are tucked against my torso.


I bring my right hand towards my gut, and bend my wrist a bit too. My left fingers extend as far as they can, the knife blade is slicing toward the knife’s tip. This cut moves from the bowl through to the side of the handle. It’s a scooping cut to some degree.

 

Similar thing, but more to the middle of the bowl. This cut goes somewhat across the grain. 

More scooping, working toward the knife’s tip.

 

the other side of the bowl, I use a different grip. My thumb is on one side of the spoon, the knife on the other. Then I close my hand, pulling the blade toward, but not at, my thumb. 

The blade ends up in the space between my thumb and fingers. The knife handle is held by curling my fingers around it, not in the palm of my hand.

This one I use along the handle. It starts with my left thumb pushing on either my right hand, or the knife handle. The thumb is extended pretty far, and then I slide the knife from tip to butt.

My right hand moves forward, my left thumb acts like a hinge, swinging up toward the spoon handle’s top end.

There’s lots of references for these cuts and many others – the newest is Barn the Spoon’s new book, “Spōn: A Guide to Spoon Carving and the New Wood Culture” (next week we’ll ask Barn how to pronounce the title of his book)

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https://barnthespoon.com/courses-books-gifts/spon-learn-to-spoon-carve-by-barn-the-spoon

It’s well worth getting; Barn has been pretty deep into spoons, I mean who else has changed their name to “…the Spoon”? Here’s a detail of a couple of his spoons at our Plymouth CRAFT exhibition at Fuller Craft Museum – (thanks, Rick…)

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hewing a spoon crook

Getting some spoon work in, prepping for Greenwood Fest coming up in early June. Cherry crooks are the greatest…so photos with captions.

This is the crook I chose this afternoon – split off 2 chunks above the pith. So the bottom third of this is trash, but the other two will be fine spoons.

Here’s the top one, near the bark. It just about makes itself into a spoon.

After hewing off the bark so I can see the shape better, I hewed a bunch off what will be the top or rim of the spoon bowl.

Slicing across the grain to bring it down to the shape I want.

Starting to define the neck between the bowl and the handle.

This is the one I always call the first chance to completely ruin the spoon. Thankfully it’s only a few minutes into the work. So if it fails now, not much is lost.

Then hewing away some excess off the back of the handle.

With a hard wood like cherry (Prunus serotina) I often mount the hewn shape in the vise, and work with a bent gouge & mallet to rough out the bowl. Working directly across the grain.

here’s the gouge – might be about 1″-1 1/4″ wide, the “sweep” or curve is the #8 in the Swiss marking system.

It’s still very blocky, so the next step will be to hew off the back corners.

I start this cut up in the bowl, and it carries all the way down to the top end of the handle.

It’s hard to read in this photo, but I’ve begun to form a rounded under the bowl.

Then it was time for dinner.

still some room in Pre-Fest courses at Greenwood Fest

The Greenwood Fest is long-sold out, with a waiting list. I heard from Paula Marcoux last night that someone had to cancel, and the next name on the waiting list flipped out –

But there’s still a way to get a big hit of greenwood fun in Plymouth next month. The pre-fest courses are running Tuesday afternoon June 6th to Thursday mid-day June 8th. Due to a cancellation, there’s a space in Jögge Sundqvist’s class “Swedish Slöjd Knife with Birchbark Sheath.”  If you’ve not been around Jögge, I can tell you, this class is about much more than making a knife handle & sheath. Working with him is a life-changing experience.


There’s room too in Tim Manney’s Sharpening class – a deceptive class. When we ran it the first time, people were clamoring for more tools to sharpen. It’s a tricky class to convince your family to let you go for a few days, you come home with a bunch of sharp tools – not some flashy woodsy object d’art. BUT…it’s an eye-opener, and forevermore your tools will be honed to a crazy keen edge. Tim is a great, great teacher.

Jane Mickelborough’s Folding Spoon class is the one I would take if I had the time. Jane’s work studying and learning about these historic spoons from Brittany is really inspiring. It’s so different from most of what we see about spoons, but rooted in tradition.

So if you missed out on the festival itself, this is a chance for a 3/4 festival experience There will be 7 classes running at the same time – just like the fest, you stay on site in cabins, all meals included from lunch Tuesday to lunch Thursday. So I think it’s close to 80 people in camp, counting attendees and instructors. That means all the “down” times; before class, during meals, after class in the evenings, you’re part of a huge contingent of like-minded greenwood-ers.

After class on Thursday, you go find some quiet place to digest what you’ve just been through, then that evening make your way to Fuller Craft Museum for the mind-blowing Rhythym & Slöjd performance by Jögge Sundqvist. http://fullercraft.org/event/rhythm-and-slojd/ – the Fuller evening is part of the pre-Fest tuition.

Come join us for the early festival experience.

course descriptions:    https://www.greenwoodfest.org/course-details

registration:   https://www.plymouthcraft.org/greenwood-fest-courses

 

 

Fuller Craft Museum this weekend

It’s going to be a busy weekend at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. I’m heading there Saturday as part of the audience, to see Terry Martin & Zina Burloiu. http://fullercraft.org/event/deep-collaboration-demonstration-show-and-lecture-from-terry-martin-zina-manesa-burloiu/

I remember reading about Zina’s spoon carving and her chip carving, way back when in the old Woodwork magazine. I still have the article, it tells a fascinating story about her first trip from Romania to the US, where she took part in a turning conference. Must have been the 1990s, if I remember right.

The next time I saw her work in “print” was on Robin Wood’s blog about the first Täljfest at Sätergläntan. There she is, showing Wille Sundqvist her chip carving…and when I saw this, I remembered the Woodwork article.

http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/wood-craft-blog/2013/10/26/wood-carving-festival-saterglantan-sweden-taljfest/

Then, when our friends at Fuller Craft began talking to Plymouth CRAFT about an exhibition, I was barely paying attention – “yes, of course I’ll be a part of it…”  Then my friend Denise Lebica mentioned that the same weekend, Zina Burloiu was going to be there. I jumped at the chance to see her & her work in person. It’s not just Zina’s work, of course. I don’t want to short-change Terry Martin, her collaborator for many years. Here is a link to Terry’s site, which includes the background of their collaboration: http://terrymartinwoodartist.com/new_direction.html

Terry kindly sent me a couple of shots of Zina’s chip carving:

 

Then on Sunday I’ll be back as a participant in the opening of the Plymouth CRAFT exhibition, “Living Traditions: The Handwork of Plymouth CRAFT” – http://fullercraft.org/event/living-traditions-the-handwork-of-plymouth-craft/

The day includes a reception and a panel discussion in the afternoon:  http://fullercraft.org/event/opening-reception-for-living-traditions-the-handwork-of-plymouth-craft-and-ellen-schiffman-the-52-box-project/

So a couple of round trips to Brockton. I’m spoiled with my new commute of 15 steps outside the door. I’m going to have to get in the car for this…