a fest, a chest, some spoons

scribing

First off, the Greenwood Fest http://www.greenwoodfest.org/ sold out in just about 1 day.  There are still spaces in several of the pre-fest courses; scroll down on the link to read about those offerings. If you missed a ticket to the fest, do get on the waiting list. June is a long ways off, lots can happen between now & then. Last year, many on the waiting list got in. Maybe all. Thanks to all who support Plymouth CRAFT’s programs, we appreciate it. A special hearty thanks to Paula Marcoux, who runs Plymouth CRAFT, organizes the festival and created the website – and answered every question sent to Plymouth CRAFT …and on & on. The rest of us just goof around, Paula does all the work.

paula

In the workshop, I’m getting prepared for this weekend’s edition of the joined chest class at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. http://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/  I’m going to assemble the chest I’m working on, so the students can see what happens when they get to that step. First, I make a lot of tapered oak pins. Shaved, not driven through a dowel plate. These pins are the most critical part of the joinery. They need to be straight-grained, and cleanly cut.

shaving-pins

And I need a lot of them. I think 56 in this particular chest. Some are already driven; the front is mostly assembled.

still-not-enough

the photo at the top of this post shows me scribing the pin hole on the side rails’ tenons. Here, I’ve knocked those joints apart enough to get in there & bore the holes in the tenons.

boring

Then drive the pins home. driving-pins

The shoulder pulls up nice & tight.

pegged

I’ll cut & fit the till and install the floor during the class. I’ll try to get shots during the weekend.

SPOON-CARVING –

I carved some spoons recently – one a shape I’ve carved many times – here is the new spoon alongside one about 10 years old. Similar shape, one with a nice broken-in feel, the other brand-spankin’-new. Both birch, both flax oil finish. that’s what using them does to them…I like the look of time & use… I think it also helps to know as you’re carving spoons that what the color & grain look like today is not what they will look like down the line.

new-old-spoons

new-old-spoons-rear

Greenwood Fest Instructor: Darrick Sanderson

Rick McKee would be ashamed as I mix sports metaphors, by referring to a pinch-hitting hockey player – but last summer Darrick/Derek Sanderson stepped up as a pinch hitter at Greenwood Fest and knocked it out of the park. Off the ice? I’ll shut up now & get on with it.

Image result for darrick sanderson bowls

 

In addition to turning bowls on the pole lathe, Derek is a spoon carving phenom. I heard recently (I forget where) that there are days when he hardly carves any spoons. Just 4 or 5. A good week’s output for me! In April 2016, Jarrod wrote about a visit out to Derek’s place, where he saw the entire arc of Derek’s spoon carving –  “Over the 4 years Derek has been carving spoons, he’s made about 1400 of them.  He’s saved nearly all of them.” That’s a staggering number of spoons!

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Derek will be manning the pole lathe part of the time, just like he did last year; turning bowls, teaching, explaining techniques – I remember it seemed as if he woke up and started woodworking in the next breath. Always with a crowd around him. So we’re quite pleased to bring him back this season.

derek turning

derek-spoons-etc

 

Image result for darrick sanderson bowls

Derek’s Instagram is here: https://www.instagram.com/dcsandersoninc/

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.

 

jane

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.”

janes-folder-folded

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

 

 

Greenwood Fest 2017 instructor: Jögge Sundqvist

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Looks like it should be his axe, but it was borrowed

I’ve spent a lot of time with Jögge Sundqvist in the last 2 years, a couple weeks in Maine in 2015, then in 2016 at Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest and then in Sweden at Täljfest…then we toured around Sweden for a couple weeks. Think I’ve had my fill? Nope.

heres-how

Before I left Sweden, I made sure that if schedules permitted, he’d come back to the US for Greenwood Fest 2017. Lucky for us, the schedules just made it…(he has an exhibition back home right after our event.)

Jögge’s craft skills are firmly rooted in tradition, and his teaching is top-flight. His craft permeates his life; they can’t be separated. He makes you better at woodworking. If you’ve not been around him, here’s your chance. His 2-day class will be making a handle and sheath for a sloyd knife, and learning some carving to go with it. Then in the festival he’ll be doing some demonstrations, and short sessions…spoon carving, decoration – there’s lots to cover.

Jogge w spoon knife
Jogge w spoon knife

jogge

Greenwood Fest registration opens on January 4th. http://www.greenwoodfest.org/

I wrote this post tonight because it was just announced by Lost Art Press that us mono-linguists will be able to read his book once and for all. They are publishing a translation of his updated book Slöjda i trä. Great combo, Jögge & LAP.

https://blog.lostartpress.com/2016/12/28/sloyd-in-wood-by-jogge-sundqvist/#comment-42486

 

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.

pf-jsq
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 instructors: Barn Carder

Part of my job in Greenwood Fest is lining up the instructors. In one sense, it’s easy – I write or call some friends and offer them a paying job. It another sense, this round 2 is hard, because I have to leave some people out so we can have some new people in. And which new people? There ain’t enough room for all of us…

We’re very pleased to include Barn Carder this time.

barn-concentrating

 

Here’s the page for Greenwood Fest; http://www.greenwoodfest.org/

Like many of us from the US, I first heard of Barn through Robin Wood’s blog. And last summer I was lucky enough to go over to Derbyshire for Spoonfest, the largest international gathering of spoon carvers. Robin and Barn co-founded Spoonfest. There, I got to meet & spend a good amount of time with Barn. You’re going to love getting to know him. We ask each participant to send us a short blurb about themselves, and everyone who has ever had to write those knows how awful they are. Here’s Barn’s:

“No one in Britain knows more about crafting a spoon from green wood than Barn The Spoon” – The Guardian

Barn really does love spoons, he has been fully immersed in the Wood Culture Renaissance for a while now and there doesn’t seem to be any letting up. Recognised for his unique depth of knowledge, and artisanal approach to production carving. He adapts simple, traditional designs to sell to a modern market. From living in the woods and peddling spoons on foot, to a high street shop in London and setting up The Green Wood Guild he keeps himself busy with fresh wood fibres and sharp tools.

fig-spoon

That’s all well & good – but another element that is missing in that description is humor.  Barn has a great approach to his teaching. He’s really consumed with spoon carving, and has a great willingness to share that passion. His manner and methods are infectious. This will be Barn’s first time teaching in the US, he’ll teach a session before the festival, and be there throughout as well. He has a lot of web presence, so you can find stuff about him, and the Greenwood Guild that he is involved with easily. He’s got an Instagram feed – https://www.instagram.com/barnthespoon/

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But for me, the video clip that best presents Barn is the one he & Robin Wood did for Hole & Corner: