Taking a pause…

For those of you that stop by here from time to time to read or look at the spoon photos, or if you are a new visitor, welcome!  I write and share here about wooden spoon making with traditional tools and techniques.  Thanks for your interest.  I like being in touch with people about this topic, so contact me if you like and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

I will be taking some time with family during the month of April 2018, and I don’t expect to make any new posts here until mid-May.  Please stop by then to see what’s going on at Spoonderlust.  Or, follow this blog to receive email notification when I make a new post!  My Etsy Shop is also closed until mid-May…

If you are interested in arranging individual spoon carving instruction, or workshops for groups, please contact me.  I greatly enjoy doing this type of work as time allows and I schedule well in advance…

In Vermont this summer and fall, I plan to be teaching/demonstrating spoon making and/or selling spoons at the following events:

Sterling College, Craftsbury, VT June 1, 2018
Castleton Colonial Days (80th Annual!), Castleton, VT late August 2018
Shelburne Farms Fall Festival (40th Annual!) September 9th, 2018
Apples and Crafts, Woodstock, Vermont October 6-7, 2018

Winter Spoons…

These recently finished spoons will be available on spoonderlust on Etsy in the next few days.  The wood was harvested on our land last spring, processed into billets, and stored to retain moisture.  I am working on finishing 11 more spoons from this batch of wood.

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Paper Birch

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Close up of some embellishments.  Done by pressing the tip of my carving knife into the wood.

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Large Maple serving spoon.

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The bowl from the top.

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Yellow Birch

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Maple.

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Maple.

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Maple.

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Maple.

 

8 Paper Birch Kitchen Spoon Set

This set of 8 Paper Birch Kitchen Spoons comes from this one round of wood.  I’ve riven out the billets here, and tied the wood back together with twine for illustration.

The billets are roughed out with the hatchet.

Further reduced into spoon blanks using the drawknife and shaving horse. The #5 spoon’s bowl is roughed out with the bent knife.

Drying process complete, the spoons are ready for the last go round of decorative finial carving and a touch of light sanding.

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All the finish carving complete, and lightly hand sanded for a few minutes each. Ready for oiling.

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Finished with organic olive oil.

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This set is numbered on the back of the finial. My Roman numerals need some work…

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Holistic Forest Management with a Spoon

People of all ages and from all walks of life and from all parts of the planet benefit from the complex living breathing organism that is a forest.  Some may never have the distinct benefit and privilege of setting foot in one, and others may never stay in the forest for long enough to consider it an experience.  Still others live on the edge of, inside, and with the forest.  Those who have spent time in the forest might agree that, if nothing else, it is a remarkable place, a place that draws us in.  Forests are complex places, and no less complex than everything else outside their edges.  But somehow, unlike everything else, they are a place of their own.  You can tell when you’ve entered, and when you’ve left, when you are close to one, and when you have been away from one for too long.

Reverence for trees might sound odd coming from a person who cuts trees down for the purposes of trail building and firewood, craft and more garden space.  All that I do could be a mistake; I am at best fallible.  But I do take from the forest, slowly, “by hand”, without a tractor or horses.  And in 15 years getting to know a small part of the forest, I’ve seen and been a part of the changes there.  I’ve never felt greedy or wasteful.  I believe that what I have taken is from an abundance, and what is left behind is a reflection of the changing, vivid, diverse, and ever-evolving or devolving person that I am.  It is a relationship, impacting both parties.  Gratitude ebbs and flows depending on whether I am dragging logs uphill or downhill.  But I’m not fickle; my passion for the forest overrides any temporary difficulty I may be having.  I sometimes feel if I stay too long, I might not be able to come out.

The students I had the distinct privilege of working with last week at Sterling College in Craftsbury, VT were graciously friendly.  I feign teaching, as what I do is really share something that is such a joy to me it is difficult to contain myself.  I have to really slow down in describing and demonstrating the steps in making a spoon, yet all the while I do not want to bore the students or belabor the points.  I don’t think I’m making this up:  Spoon making has a disproportionately large number of “ah-ha” moments.  On a small-scale, we realize what we are capable of.  Wheels start spinning.  The disconnection and displacement from all that was for thousands of years narrows quickly.  The hands, making things, using tools, together, talking.  I’m a sap, and it is beautiful.  So as I always say, thank you for sharing your time with me, and tending my fire.  Your enthusiasm is a joy to witness.

The view from Paradise…

 

Lazy Mill Living Arts

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Late fall 2016, a lovely gathering of souls bent to their day of spoon carving at Lazy Mill Living Arts in Stannard, VT.  A wonderful space and kind hosts, superb company, afternoon cobbler, many fine creations:

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Thank you!  I’m grateful to have worked with all of you.

Spoonmaking at Sterling College

The Serious Side of the Class

The Smiley Side of the Class

Rarely for me in this life are the elements of a particular day so joyfully copacetic and grounding, that I lay down at the end, exhausted, with renewed hope for our species.  I do recognize that this simply might mean I need to work on my perspective a little, which is undoubtedly true, however this day was definitely one of those days.

Early this year, Rick Thomas from Sterling College reached out to explore having me visit as a guest instructor and share spoonmaking skills with the students in his Working Horses, Working Landscapes course.  This course, focused primarily on draft animals as valued, respected, and revered participants in today’s agriculture, is one part of Sterling’s School of the New American Farmstead program.

Well if you know me, you wouldn’t have to twist my arm to get me to drive out to Craftsbury, VT, blasting The Duhks along the way through a sparkling August day to carve spoons together with a group of spry young people who signed up for such a program.  Not to mention the delicious lunch, much of which came right from the Sterling farm.  Oh, and there was the modest timber-framed green-woodworking building perched atop a hill amongst a few outbuildings, the lower half of which infilled with cordwood masonry, sporting wide views of the working farm, barns, and hills beyond seemingly intentionally spread out before it.  Oh, also, there was the great and cheerful company of Rick Thomas, who in the span of the afternoon espoused so much knowledge to me as we walked the land that I had to pull over on the way home to take notes from my overflowing brain before the important stuff, like preparing the land for fruit trees, or clearing the ground beneath a favored variety of tree particularly loaded with seed to receive and start new trees, was lost to me on my drive home.

It was outside of the green woodworking building, in the shade of a Cherry tree, that we spend the warm afternoon learning to handle the bent knife and transform green wood into kitchen spoons.

I have observed that learning spoon carving, no matter if or how you receive instruction, begins awkwardly as you learn to hold the carving knife.  Some learn well by reading a technical description of how to carve, others learn by looking at pictures or observing a demonstration, and some by doing.  I do my best to instill a respect for the very sharp blade, and spend some of the first hour trying to reel in some wild whittling and dangerous knife wielding.  But most of what happens is discovery through trial and error, a little frustration, with a little guidance.  I’ll deliver small presentations of some other ideas about what is going on throughout the process.  For the beginner, starting to carve out the bowl of the spoon is slow going.  The tendency is to use a lot of force and a severe angle, trying to take out a lot of material at once.  But eventually you create enough of an even, shallow concave across the whole bowl that the curved blade begins to more agreeably slice the curved surface.  And there is the sound of a group of people carving.  If I stand among the students in a workshop like this and quietly listen, the sounds reveal where they are in the process.  After about the first hour of carving, many in this class found what I kind of consider a magical place where the spoon and knife and hands are coming into a harmony of motions.  What is interesting to me is that along the way you might come up to any student as they carve, and each of them will be at a really different place with carving out the bowl, but, by the end of the class, as they worked out ways to hold the tool and spoon, and to carve, they are all yielding similar results.

This craft does lend itself, as Rick Thomas said, to quiet contemplation, and is a physical manifestation on a hand-held scale of technical problem solving.  The concept of design in working with fresh green wood forces you to consider what is already there that you can see, as well as what is hidden inside; the potential.  You can impose your creativity on the wood only to the extent that the grain will yield to the blade and the coordination of your hands, much like all of the living systems in which we interact.  But by taking small, thoughtful cuts, be they with a carving knife or a furrow, and developing a keen awareness of what is beyond what you can see, you can be a part of revealing what is already there.

Thank you to all of the students pictured here, and to Rick Thomas, for inviting me to share this day!  It was all I imagined, and even more was revealed as we worked with our hands together under the Cherry tree.

The Spoontastic Side of the class.

The Spoontastic Side of the class.

Brother Spoon

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I made my brother this Maple spoon to thank him for doing some graphic design for spoonderlust(see the word spoonderlust inset in the logo on the site banner, which features a spoon for the “p” and “d”).

 

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It’s a large cooking/serving spoon.  Nice curves in the handle.

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To me, trades like this are tiny examples of how things should be.

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Making tangible things for one another, sharing our varied talents and skills.  Leaving money out of the equation.

I am ever so grateful for my brother!