Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Still here!

Well... Happy New Year, everyone! Did you think I'd fallen off the face of the Earth? Well, I haven't. I've just been... well, REALLY really busy. There's been a lovespoon class, holidays & travels, health care, a little bit of ACTUAL winter, LOTS of design, and lots of carving. And chocolate! Regardless, I do apologize for neglecting checking in here.

Well,  let's see... where to begin?! Hmm... in November, I taught my very first "Carving a Lovespoon" class at my local Woodcraft store. It seemed to have gone very well, and in fact, I have another scheduled for April. It was really interesting to see the variety of students, and what they accomplished. Lots of nice spoons - and lots of getting daring with the challenges I was aiming to include in the designs - Good job, students, and thank you, Woodcraft!!!

Then, in December, we had a visit from fellow lovespoon carver, David Western and his lovely wife, during their trip to Ohio.  After corresponding with Dave over email for a few years, now, and even having collaborated with him on two lovespoons for the West Coast Eisteddfod, it was a true pleasure to finally meet him in person! He graciously gave a wonderful presentation to a group of my carving friends (and some others) about Lovespoon Carving and History at the Delaware Center for Older Adults. The presentation was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and we all learned a bit, too! Even Chris Watkins from Watkins Lovespoons managed to make it down for the presentations, so it was lovespoon central in Central Ohio on December 4th! (It was lovely to see Chris again, too!)

In mid-November, I also made a trip to Dayton for the annual Artistry in Wood show - one of the largest and best carving shows in the country. There, I happened upon a few boards of Buckeye wood (for anyone who doesn't know, Ohio is "the Buckeye State"). With this new find, I couldn't resist building a spoon for Dave and his wife, to commemorate their tour of the great Buckeye state. It was my first time carving buckeye, and I have to say - I'm sold! It's great stuff - if you have access to it, and haven't tried carving it, what are you waiting for?! It's similar to basswood, I think, but a bit stronger and seems to finish a bit smoother. Anyway... here is the result:
Buckeye often seems to have this lovely spalting... so you have to be careful with it, but it makes for some great contrast and interest! Obviously, I am still having fun with rings.

Meanwhile, I was working on a number of commissions before Christmas, then some Christmas gifts, and more... but among those, probably the most noteworthy is a wine-themed spoon I made out of holly. The symbolism within the spoon also included music, accounting and quantum physics (I was especially pleased with myself for what I thought were clever representations of accounting and quantum physics!). I found this spoon very inspiring, so, as I so often do, I got a bit carried away! Here are a few pictures...

There was one main knot in the mostly clear board (a couple tiny ones elsewhere that I was mostly able to avoid, but one, right in the middle of the lower bunch of grapes - actually, the leaf, on the front. Can't see it yet in the picture above, but here it is on the back (which still didn't look like much at the start - but I'll try to show how it developed as I dug deeper...
and the front...
that's as bad as it got on the front (thank goodness!). But here's what it became from the back:

Then... here is that overall view, a bit further along...

Now, I had warned my client that I'd intentionally drawn in extra tendrils, and even the rings may have proven precarious (though, as it turned out, they were the least of my worries!) - so not to count on the finished carving to be quite the same as the initial drawing. Thanks to the flexibility of my client, I was able to get very daring with a lot of this, and in fact, only one tiny loop near the top had to be sacrificed, but miraculously, all the other tendrils survived! Realizing how precarious my design was, I had to be more conscientious than ever about finishing more aggressive parts before carving away the finer details which would result in weak parts. Ultimately, the center crossing, and the tendril at the lower right of Schroedinger's cat, there were the most fragile parts. That lower tendril - I'm honestly amazed that it survived... goes to show the benefit of using such a hard wood, like holly. So, here are a few pictures around the end of the carving:

You can see, around the middle of the cat, that tendril on the right still touches the box at this point... but, as I cleaned it up and sanded it, that will change...

and the back:

Then, I sanded. As I refined, I ended up freeing that lower tendril, except at the top (about an inch up that other vine), and at the loop near the bottom of the cat... lots of cross-grain sections there that, amazingly, held! Sanding the side of that box couldn't be begun until about 220 grit, because that was the first sandpaper that would fit between the box and tendril, without feeling like it caused too much stress on the tendril! So - long and tedious sanding process, there!... I'll wrap it up now...

Every bit of sanding, and most frighteningly, waxing, I had to support everywhere I touched on the opposite side with a finger. It was VERY flexible, once freed in that middle part. That tendril may still touch the box there, but I assure you, it is free right there at the Cat's knee. It looked like it had a bridge between the tendril and the box before I freed it - so I freed it!  By the way, I only waxed this spoon - no oil - the wax seems to be enough for holly (with a bit heated & melted to soak in a touch), and helps preserve its whiteness, I think.

And finally, all finished up...

I figured this one warranted extra pictures. :) My photography still leaves something to be desired, but... at least I'm trying.

Well - I'm late for something now, and that was probably more than enough for one post, anyway, so I'll say good bye for now, and will try to check in again soon, and see if I can at least get into the new year... ;) Hope all of you are enjoying the new year, meanwhile, and if you carve, then carve someone a lovespoon for Valentine's Day!


  1. This spoon is amazing. I have tried thin sections like you have here but NOTHING to the extreme that you have achieved.

    I'll bet it was "Miller Time" when you were done:-)

    Beautiful Job!

    1. Thanks, Tom. You are right - this was extreme, even for me. Since I'd said at the start that some tendrils may not survive, I had the opportunity to test the limits, and test I did!
      As a side note to David Western's visit - he kindly brought me a lovely bottle of gin, so it was actually more like "Martini Time" when I finished this spoon! ;)