Friday, March 9, 2012

A busy week...

It's been an unusually productive week, with St David's Day events, finishing up some projects, starting some others, and finally, my very first attempt at giving a lovespoon workshop!

I was recently invited to speak about Welsh Lovespoons at the near-by Radnor Heritage Society's St David's Day luncheon. Radnor is a little Welsh-settled town about an hour North of Columbus. Many of the people there had seen Welsh Lovespoons, but may not have been familiar with the history and tradition behind them. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to share with them a bit of what I've learned. I also brought along some examples of finished spoons, and a couple works in process, too. That included the teeny tiny spoons I was just finishing, that were made from some walnut from that very same town (Radnor). The group seemed to enjoy my little presentation, and hopefully the talk contributed a little towards perpetuating the lovespoon tradition, too. It was a very nice day (including a delicious lunch with yummy leek soup and locally raised lamb), and I hope they enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed them! What a nice group of people!
And, by the way, a couple days later, after the oil had dried, I did finish the final coat of wax on those tiny spoons. I will admit: buffing off that final coat of wax on those little spoons was indeed the scariest part of making them. I felt like they were in more danger of breaking then, than at any other point. BUT, I was careful, and they did survive! Here they are, all finished up. The pictures are a little bright, but you can still see how pretty the wood is.

Tuesday morning, I was able to meet the woman who brought me this wood from her old family house in Radnor, and she seemed to really like them, and said she planned to put them in a picture box framed with more of the same walnut, so they have a pretty and sentimental remembrance of their old home. It's very gratifying to be able to play my part in a family's history like this. And, I also asked her to remind me how old the wood actually was, and she said the house was built in 1852, so it was at least that old. I'm told that a lot of houses in Radnor used walnut, because there were lots of walnut trees growing there.

Then, between Saturday and Tuesday, I did a little designing for a commission that I'm sure will eventually show up here, and also made some final preparations for my very first Lovespoon carving workshop on Tuesday evening! The workshop was for the "Land of Legends Woodcarvers" in Newark, Ohio, who meet right "down the street" from me (well, a few towns away down the street, anyway).

This was my very first attempt at doing something like this, so I was a little nervous.
I arrived as early as they told me I could, to allow for traffic (kinda far, and it was rush hour), and so I could lay out some visual aids (including the finished examples I've been describing in excruciating detail the past few weeks!) and get settled. I was surprised to find several carvers already there, since the start time was still an hour and a half away. I had no trouble using that extra time, though.

Now, my main hesitation when I was first asked to do this was that I really didn't want to cut out so many blanks. But they offered to do that for me - I just provided the pattern, and told them the thickness of the stock I wanted them to use. So that was fantastic, and I happily agreed! When I saw that box of blanks, I was just so  happy I didn't have to cut them all! Another thought I've had while planning for this was that while I can certainly tell people and demonstrate what I like to do, that doesn't mean it's right. It's just how I do it. I hope I never came across as though I knew the best way.

Once we started, I talked for a bit about the history of the tradition, a few key details of the spoon that I hoped they'd consider and try, barked at a heckler (a friend from my Tuesday morning carving group who was in the room), and through all that, probably went off on lots of tangents. I'll definitely try to clean that up next time. Then we got started carving.
I talked with pretty much everyone, and got lots of questions and we all shared theories about things, which is always fun. I also went around & showed them my bent knife and how to use it, because it's a really handy tool to have for spoons! 
It was interesting to see how far anyone actually got, and what tools they liked to use. I did see a lot of knives, which I expected. I wonder if the whole thing was more educational for me than it was for them, even.
Thinking back over it, there are several things I'll probably do differently when I do this for another carving group in May (especially talk less at the beginning), but overall, I felt like it was well-received and it seemed to go well. I certainly enjoyed it, and I hope they all did, too. I was especially glad that I had made those sample spoons, because most people got to pick them up and handle them, hold them up to the light to see how thin some parts were (yet still plenty strong and stable), see and feel the actual final finish, see the tools and sandpapers I use, etc.. You lose so much of that stuff when you just look at pictures, especially pictures from my silly little camera. :)

In any case, THANK YOU, Land of Legends woodcarvers, for inviting me out there, being guinea-pigs, and listening to me talk a whole lot! I hope I was able to encourage some more people to try carving (and maybe even designing) some lovespoons! Happy carving!

1 comment:

  1. Those little spoons turned out beautifully. I also like the way you adjusted for the blanks you had. That bowl profile is pretty interesting. Like you I often have the front plane of the blank as the rim of the bowl, though, sometimes y Tylwyth Teg will come in when I'm not looking and split the rim of the bowl right at the outside curve where the grain changes direction. It has to be the fairies. I wouldn't be so careless! Anyhoo, I then wind up with a bowl profile resembling the one you wound up with.