A Few New Spoons

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I just finished four new spoons.  All are from crooks with a surface straight from the knife.  Flaxseed oil finish.  Ready for action.  If you see one you’d like, send me an email at dandkfish@gmail.com or leave a comment.  I’ll get back to you to confirm.  A check in the mail or paypal works fine for me.  All prices include shipping.

The first one features “Esurio” carved into the handle.   That’s Latin for “I’m hungry.”  I thought it was appropriate for this big serving spoon carved from a rhododendron crook.  11 1/2″ long and 3 1/2″ wide.  $200 includes shipping.  Update: SOLD

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The second one is a from a cherry tree that had developed some deep coloring before it fell.  I decided to let this wood speak for itself.  This one is especially comfortable for left-handers to use.  9 3/4″ x 3″.  $125 includes shipping. Update: SOLD

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The third one is a slotted serving spoon.  Sap pockets are sometimes present in cherry, and a long one ended up right through the bowl.  Rather that tossing it, I opened up two more spots and now it will drain your beans.  10 3/4″ x 2 3/4″.  $100 includes shipping.  Update: SOLD

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And the fourth one is a sharply bent Norway maple server.  10″ x 2 3/4″.  $180 includes shipping.  Update: SOLD

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Posted in Lettering, spoons, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Hungarian Super Bowl

Now that the Super Bowl of American football is over, feast your eyes on some amazing feats of coordination and teamwork in Hungary.  I believe the narration is in Hungarian, but the video is multi-lingual.  Huge bowls like this seem to have been used in many cultures across the world, for animal processing and other tasks.

A friend drew my attention to the film last week, and I notice something new each time I watch it.  Some brief observations:

  • The immensity and weight of the bowl itself keeps it in place with little need for work-holding considerations.  It also makes it practical to cut the two cross-grain trenches followed by the splitting out of the wood in between.
  • The skill and accuracy of the axe work is notable, along with the ease and fluidity of the practiced motions.  Check out the slow-motion shot of the axe rotation between strokes about six and a half minutes in.
  • Their practiced hands and eyes, accustomed to this particular form, achieve the shape with very few guidelines it seems; just a few checks here and there with an axe handle.
  • That wide adze with the sharply drooped head and short handle can rotate around across the grain in the wide hollow.  Lovely to watch the work with the adze on the exterior ends and handles as well.  Kept sharp with quick skillful strokes of a simple slipstone.
  • I wonder if the carved wooden breast bib is intended to protect their clothes from the drawknife at least as much as their flesh.  The one drawknife is missing a wooden handle.  Maybe he prefers it that way; regardless, it doesn’t hold him back.
  • The justified pride shown by the man lifting the complete bowl to the wall next to the others is timeless.  I love how he taps on the surfaces, I presume to demonstrate the evenness of tone or the simple fact that the wood has been carved thin enough to resonate to some degree.  I felt a connection to him, as I often find myself tapping finished bowls to hear the tone.
  • Family/community members of all ages are around during the work, and join in, especially during the spoon carving session during the last part of the film.  My best guess, based on the credits at the end, is that this was filmed in 1962.

And that’s just scratching the surface…

Posted in bowls, historical reference, holding, Uncategorized, video | Tagged , | 27 Comments

8th Grade Sloyd

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As I cut the letters into this small panel earlier this month, I was thinking back to Mr. Howard Sokoloff, my 8th grade woodshop teacher.  Here was a man near retirement tasked with teaching every single thirteen-year-old in the school some hand skills.  A lettered sign was one way to do it.  I stumbled upon the one I made then while cleaning up recently.  The memory of making this thing 35 years ago was strong, probably due to the thrill I felt at the time.

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Mr. Sokoloff was a kind man.  I remember his white hair Brylcreemed straight back above his horn-rimmed glasses as he guided us in the use of our main tools: coping saw, rasp, and sandpaper.  After many class periods of shaping and smoothing our boards, we penciled on some lettering.  There were a lot of names, house numbers, and pop bands.  I liked fishing.

One by one, we’d take our boards to Mr. Sokoloff who fired up the router and did his best to follow our drawn lines as we surrounded him in amazement.  It was a router, not a knife, but there were no computer programs or 3-D printers involved.  Even though I didn’t cut the letters , I still had the satisfaction of designing them just by hand and eye with a pencil.  Now I get the joy of drawing and cutting them.

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Mr. Sokoloff never mentioned the word sloyd, but his instruction was indeed a remnant of a movement that had begun long before.  This video provides a concise history from slöjd to sloyd:

P.S. — Here’s another recent lettering project that’s a bit different: a pottery stamp for a clay-working couple that sometimes collaborates on pieces.  Something like 3/8″ high and 5/8″ wide.  End-grain boxwood can hold some detail.

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Some spoon handles next…

 

Posted in historical reference, Lettering, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Liking Lichens

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What is produced by a free stroke charms us, like the forms of lichens and leaves. There is a certain perfection in accidents which we never consciously attain.

— Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

A delightful side effect of spoon carving is a walk through the woods.   Not that an excuse for a walk is needed, but it’s a good one nonetheless.  On a walk after a windstorm earlier this month, I found a big cherry tree lying on the ground, a victim of the gale.  I was able to collect a few crooks from among the branches and carry them home in my pack.

The branches of that cherry tree were teeming with life, life so common and quiet that I usually overlook it.  But as I prepared to split the few pieces I brought home that day, I took a moment to appreciate it up close.  That was followed by a moment of realization that I didn’t know squat about this (a feeling I’ve become familiar with).  Thankfully, there are lichen people.  Here are a couple videos featuring them and fascinating information about lichens to add even more interest to your next stroll and/or spoon foray:

The link to the other one is here.  There are lots of lichen people in Scotland.

I was eventually able to return to the crooks themselves, getting a few cherry blanks ready for the axe.  These are much further along now, and soon I’ll have them and some other spoons finished.

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Some, however, didn’t make it.  Who put that open knot there?!

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These aren’t the sort of accidents Thoreau wrote about.

Posted in finding wood, green woodworking, nature, quotes and excerpts, spoons, trees, Uncategorized, video | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Ambrosia Maple Bowl

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A little bread—a crust—a crumb—
A little trust—a demijohn—
Can keep the soul alive—

— Emily Dickinson, from Poem 159 (1896)

Looking back, I was surprised at how long it had been since I’d carved a lettered bowl like this.  Felt great to make another.  This one was carved from a silver maple tree that had been visited by ambrosia beetles, leaving the telltale streaks of color in the wood.

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I revisited Emily Dickinson for the poem excerpt.  Here are a few more photos:

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This one is available for purchase.  Just shy of 16 inches long, 7 1/4 inches wide, and 3 1/2″ high.  $650 includes insured shipping.  You can email me at dandkfish@gmail.com or leave a comment below.  Update: SOLD

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Posted in bowls, figure, Lettering, quotes and excerpts, trees, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Wishes for a Peaceful New Year

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When it is peaceful and quiet, using the knife will not break the tranquility.  Sometimes there will be other things to listen to, such as conversation, music, the singing of the birds or wind rushing through the leaves.  Indeed, sometimes you will listen to the actual quietness around you when you carve.

— Wille Sundqvist, Swedish Carving Techniques (1990)

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Carving spoons with my son, Noah, a couple days ago.  Sometimes it’s nice to listen to quietness together.  And any conversation is eased by the carving.  It rises up naturally like a shaving from a knife.

Wishing you all a peaceful new year full of chips and shavings.

P.S. — I’ll wrap up 2019 with my humble attempt at a couplet inspired by the photo of Noah and me and the passage of the years.  (“Ba Ba Ba, Ba Ba Ba, Ba – Ba – Ba”):

Once I had curly hair just like that.

Years went by leaving me just this hat.

Posted in carving, green woodworking, quotes and excerpts, spoons, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Cigar Box Reminder

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Lately, my evenings and weekends have been filled with non-carving matters, including tending to the needs of our house that was built in 1905.  When Kristin and I bought it in 1996, the same year we were married, we became the third owners of this humble place in our hometown then in need of a good dose of TLC.  We entered in with little money, but plenty of DIY enthusiasm and enough ignorance to maintain our confidence.  Little by little, we’ve gotten to know this house by working on it and living in it, and it continues to surprise us with hidden quirks.

Two became four and we’ve shared a lot of memories in this house.  Once in a while the house reminds me it needs some more attention.  I kick and scream a bit, then get to work.  This week, as I was working in the cellar, by the stone foundation in need of re-pointing, I found a piece from a cigar box stamped with the words “Old Virginia Cheroots — Medium” (top photo).

Now, as much as I had been trying to maintain a positive attitude, I was not in a good frame of mind.  In fact, I probably looked a bit crazed, covered with grime, dust, cobwebs and a scowl.  Thoughts of condominiums kept passing through my mind.  Oddly enough, that little scrap of cigar box encouraged me.  I guess it was a small reminder that the house has a long memory and I’m just part of the story.

The first owners of this house were William and Minnie Fisher (no relation).  William owned a cigar store downtown and did some horse dealing on the side.  Our little town was growing then, and business was booming.  William often donated free cigars to various celebrations.

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Greenville Evening Record, April 14, 1916.  There you have it, a good five cent cigar.

After William’s death in 1932, Minnie lived here quietly, one might assume, except for one morning in 1939 when she was rudely awakened.  I can see her now jumping up, looking out my bedroom window, only to see a dump truck just below, where the front porch had been:

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Greenville Record Argus, June 28, 1939

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The front porch was rebuilt.  There it is yesterday afternoon.

After Minnie died in 1949, the house was purchased by V. Spencer and Pansy Goodreds.  Spencer was a professor of Literature and Theater at Thiel College here in Greenville.  Pansy was involved in Thiel affairs and hosted sorority gatherings at the house:

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Greenville Record Argus, Dec. 14, 1949

We never had the pleasure of meeting Pansy.  She lived here alone for nearly twenty years after Spencer died and then moved, in her nineties, to live near her son in another state.  I’m writing this now, almost exactly seventy years after that Christmas party, in front of a fire in that same fireplace.  But not a sorority girl in sight.

So I’ll make the best of re-pointing the cellar walls, but I think that job and some others can be spread out.  The little garage where Pansy parked her old Ford is now my workshop, and I’ll make some time for the bowls and spoons in there calling me.

Note:  These clips came from our local Greenville newspaper, which, thankfully, is still being published daily.  The archives of ours and many other newspapers are fully searchable at NEWSPAPERARCHIVE.  It’s a great resource.

 

Posted in historical reference, Persons, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 22 Comments