Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back to Work, from David

After too many weeks away from the project, its high time to get back to work on the Left Coast Eisteddfod spoon! This week I'm going to work on the maple leaf and the star.

These elements require radically different handling to make them look as they should. The leaf needs to be soft, curvaceous and 'flowing', while the star needs crisp angles and a uniform rigidity. Those with a keen political eye will note that the maple leaf is on the left and the star is on the right...I'd like to be able to take credit for a bit of a political wit with that one, but it was actually just an accident of placement. Perhaps I should have put them both in the centre (or center) to avoid any political misinterpretations!

Anyway, the key thing with the maple leaf is to make it appear 'leaf-like' which is easier said than done. While cutting the leaf on the scroll saw, I was careful to make the tips of the leaf appear to bend slightly. This creates a bit of tension, which in turn makes the leaf appear to have some movement despite being completely static. To further enhance this illusion, I exaggerate the 'hills and valleys' between each leaf tip by using a curved knife (a gouge works good too) to create a concave surface.

I've become a huge fan of curved knives for this type of work and have pretty well forgotten all about my gouges. Because I work on such a small scale, these knives are the perfect tool and are both light and fast in the hand. I'm careful with leaves to not overwork things and make the surfaces too smooth.

A bit of texturing helps give the leaf a vitality which disappears if the surface is too homogenous. There is a tricky area at the bottoms of the valleys where the wood grain changes direction which must be handled with care. Because I don't want to sand my leaves (which kills the vibrant look completely) I need to be very careful in this area. Nice shallow cuts are generally the answer, but occasionally I will fair out a rough patch with a small, curved scraper blade.

The star is a completely different kettle of fish. Here the surfaces will ultimately need to be as flat an fair as I can get them. The intersections of the angles need to be kept crisp and should be as straight as possible. I like to get a facetted look to the star with each arm having a central ridge from which the wood falls away meeting in a valley between sections. To get each arm faired properly, I take advantage of a skewed knife which allows me to cut on a bit of an angle. When the majority of the shaping is done, I go back over the star with a smaller straight knife to clean up any rough spots or fraying. I could cut the star all flat and on the same level, but I have found that facetting it in this manner makes it look a bit more regal and impressive.

Next week I'll have a go at the Celtic knotwork which is always good, dangerous fun! If the spoon is going to break anywhere, the Celtic knotwork is generally the place it happens. But that won't happen on this spoon because I'm doing it for a cause and my Karma will be good!

Please don't forget that the purpose of this spoon is to raise money for the Left Coast Eisteddfod! Without your support, it will be very difficult to get this worthwhile event off the ground. Every dollar you send in will give you a chance at winning this spoon and I very much hope that you will see your way to making a donation!

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  1. The leaf and star are looking terrific, Dave. I know your Karma will be good, and the knotwork will go easily. Even so, it makes the rest of us working on lovespoons feel better to know that someone as skilled as you still sweat (and flub) the delicate work. I know it makes me feel less ham-handed when I break something. I don't cry nearly as hard as I would otherwise.

    I'm currently working on another of my own designs with some knotwork in it. I'm sweating buckets, but I keep plugging away with small cuts and the sharpest knife I have. I'm actually starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    BTW, I've donated to the Left Coast Eisteddfod, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Aside from being a worthwhile event, the chance for winning a David Western Lovespoon makes it an even better investment.


  2. Your work is AMAZING. I'm favoriting your blog, I don't want to miss anything.

  3. Hi Bob and 'Youvegotmaille'
    Thanks for the compliments! I'm glad the blog is still might turn into a comedy or a tragedy depending how the Celtic knotwork turns out!
    Bob, thanks very much for donating to the Eisteddfod! Hopefully, we can encourage lots of others to donate as well. The Eisteddfod is a great idea and I would very much like to see it happen! PS: When I stop sweating over these spoons, I'll know I'm no longer trying hard enough!!! I figure every day should be an adventure when you're carving!