Thursday 14 July 2011

Spoon carving

Our first spoon workshop was run successfully on the 7th - 8th July with very agreeable weather for most of it. It was a real pleasure to sit down or a few days and explore the skills and techniques used in traditional Swedish carving.

Using razor sharp knives and axes isn't something that is familiar to most people these days so a fair proportion of the first morning was spent going through the quite specific safety elements built into each type of cut used. We were all told as children never to cut toward ourselves but in fact many of the most effective and efficient cutting with a knife is done this way.
Once everyone seemed comfortable using the knife on short lengths of sycamore we studied various spoon designs, then began making spoons in earnest using axes first, then knives and finally gouges for hollowing the bowls.

Its great to see a small group of people slowly become more and more absorbed into crafting something by hand with simple tools. Conversation slows and life is temporarily given to the relaxed but intense focus of careful hand eye co-ordination, complimented by the woodland surroundings and interrupted by the odd cup of tea...

Your first spoon is of course never going to be your best. By the morning on day two everyone had managed to shape a roughly functional eating implement, and were eager to begin on a second project, this time using cherry wood rather than sycamore, both excellent woods for the job, but cherry having the more beautiful grain pattern. This session felt really relaxed, with everyone free to experiment with their new found skills. No images of finished spoons as the final sanding is being done at home, hopefully I can publish some photo's at a later date...

One of the nicest things about carving green wood is how easy it is to carry out in an unremarkable way. Whether sitting in the garden, by the fire on a winters evening or listening to the radio or even with friends, we can all partake without the need for a workshop or expensive tools. Sure you can spend loads of money on all the best kit but I reckon less than £50 would set you up nicely.

Carving has a kind of timeless quality to it, it was something our forebears did a lot, simple, satisfying, creative, and if nothing else, a damn fine excuse to turn off the box...

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