Spoon Jam, New South Wales Nov 1-4

Most of my Australian photos were of birds…so this post will be a bit light in pictures. Once I was teaching, I had little time for photos.

First task in Australia was Spoon Jam. http://www.spoonsmith.com.au/spoon-jam.html Organized by Jeff & Jules Donne, (swiped this picture from Alex Yerks, thanks, AY)

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It’s a medium-sized Spoon Fest – just as you would expect. This year it took place in Pambula Beach, New South Wales. I read about the area on the web, and thought it all sounded like travel/tourist hype, but it actually was more beautiful than the web said. In a rugged/prehistoric way…

The event started off with two 2-day classes, me with spoons carved from (intractable) crooks; and the Wayfaring Stranger Alex Yerks https://www.instagram.com/alex_yerks/?hl=en carving kuksas. If you’re new to Alex’s scene; he’s a wanderer. New York, Minnesota, London – now Australia and New Zealand.

The site was about a 5-10 minute walk from an astoundingly beautiful Pacific beach called Merimbula Bay that stretched for quite a ways. The couple of times I was there, other than the spoon carvers, 3 people meant it was crowded.

merimbula bay

We started out under a large marquee (think circus tent if you’re in America) – Alex at one end me at the other.

I had a great group of willing students working their way through some unusual woods as far as I was concerned. I had to preface all my concepts with “Let’s see if this will work in ______.” Some of the woods we tried included Banksia, Casuarina (aka She-oak), Black Wattle, Native cherry (Exocarpos cupressiformis), and I forget what else. They flip around from local names, Latin names and other trees they call by names you’d recognize, but the trees are nothing like what they’re named for. Some of them worked. The black wattle showed promise to me – but then mine checked after a couple of days. I thought I had got it past the critical stage – but then the weather turned warmer and it cracked along the back of the bowl. Here in the more humid (most every place is more humid than southeastern Australia) it looks better.

My students were very patient while I was distracted by every song/flit/swoop/screech of the native birds. This eastern Yellow Robin sat on this tree right in front of one of my sessions, as if to say “get your camera…”

After the first 2 days, the rest of the group descended; many of them camping on site. The other instructors were Jeff Donne and his kidney stone https://www.instagram.com/thespoonsmith/?hl=en, Pete Trott https://www.instagram.com/von_trott/?hl=en (he helped translate Australian to me) and our old Greenwood Fest friend Brad Van Luyt https://www.instagram.com/bvanluyt/?hl=en

 

That was a happening two days; filled with ideas, techniques, stories, ant-holes that could engulf a person, a goanna, some kangaroos and spoons galore. One morning, I was hanging around chatting with Spoon Jam regular Annie and she spotted this kangaroo and its youngster – 

Alex gave a presentation to the whole group of how he carves his kuksas. Later, he kept exclaiming “I was surprised how many people were carving them!” – we had to remind him that he showed everyone how to do it.

Alex Yerks hollowing his kuksa

One of my favorite stories of the event involved Alex. I arrived at Jeff & Jules’ place ahead of him by a few hours. I was hanging around, learning about parrots, cockatoos and more from them and their kids Misty (age 9) and Isaac (age 7). Isaac was asking me if I knew Alex.

Isaac Donne: Do you know Alex?

PF: Yea, a bit.

ID: What’s he like?
PF: Well, he has glasses, long hair and a beard, he’s much younger than me. He might be wearing a vest, and he will definitely be wearing a hat. He travels all over and loves to carve.

ID: what else?

PF: Oh, I don’t know. He’s a musician. Oh, and he’s from New York.

ID: Oh – is he fancy?

I didn’t answer that one. Told him he’d have to get to know Alex, then decide for himself if he’s fancy.

 

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