Saturday, February 28, 2009

Here be Dragons!

I have finally reached the crowning section of the Left Coast Eisteddfod lovespoon and will now enjoy some time bringing the guardian dragon to life. I have 'ummed and ahhed' about how I am going to tackle this little chap and have decided to carve him 'in the round' (fully 3 dimensional). The walnut I am using is of a sufficient thickness to handle it, so I think that it is the way to go.

I have been calling him "Dafydd the Dragon" as I've been working on the spoon, but I but have now decided that because Dafydd is my name, he should be called something else.
So I've decided to throw a little competition to name him and it's open to anyone who wishes to offer a good alternative. Sorry, that there are no grand prizes for this, only the glory of having the name you suggest become the dragon's name for the duration of the carving and hopefully beyond when the lucky winner takes him home! In two weeks I'll get Gaabi and Ceri to pick the winner and we'll have an official naming! That will also be my incentive to get him done! Now you may be wondering why I say it is a he when it could conceivably be a she...and there is no valid reason that I could defend in a court of law for that...I've just had the feeling he is, a he!! So there you go, if you can think of a good name for him and are inclined to send it to us; give it a shot!

I'm going to break up the carving into 3 sections for the blog. I'll round out his body and shape the back scales first, then I will move on to the head and finally, I'll shape out the wings. This week is the body.

I've decided that I want to really exaggerate the scales along his back when I carve him, so I've excavated fairly deeply in those sections. I'm hoping that will help cast a nice shadow when he hangs on the wall and will generate a feeling of movement.

Once the scales have taken shape, I will start rounding the body, legs and tail sections. My plan is to leave him 'from the knife' (that is with the cut marks clearly visible in the form of facetting) rather than to smooth him down too much. I think that leaving him facetted will make for a more vibrant and lively carving, especially when viewed from a few feet away. It will also echo the idea of a scaley skin rather than looking too smooth and featureless.

Here's how he looks so far. I have roughed out the flow of his tail and put a nice tip on it, shaped the scales and rounded the front half of the body, started shaping the leg and have ramped the chest down so that the knotwork which will become his tongue can pass over.

Next week I'll shape the neck and head and will clean up the tongue knot. I also have an idea for the eye which will either be a complete success or a total calamitous disaster...stay tuned!

In the meantime, the Left Coast Eisteddfod welcomes any and all donations! . Please consider gifting this exciting cultural event! Every dollar you donate entitles you to a ticket in the draw for this very lovespoon!

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  1. I love how it looks like a medieval tapestry style :D

  2. Hi, David. I'm going to have to give the name thing some thought. Meanwhile, I have a question. Is the use of Celtic knots on lovespoons a recent development? The photos of old lovespoons that I've seen (a woefully small number) show chip carving, chains, piercings and fretwork, but I've seen no Celtic knots. So, when did they start appearing, and how did the carvers handle the piercings before the advent of the power scroll saw?

  3. Hi Bob
    Celtic knotwork is a very recent innovation in lovespoon carving. The type of stuff I do is pretty much unknown on spoons until about the late 1980's-early 90's. Mike Davies was the first lovespoon carver I was aware of who did proper knotwork. There are some very basic knots on some older spoons, but they wouldn't necessarily be called Celtic. I would imagine that not having access to jewellers type saws (or power scroll saws) would have really limited the olden day carvers and complicated knots like the Celtic ones wouldn't have been something they would have involved themselves with. (Hence the profusion of chain link and balls in cages, which can be done with just a knife) Even some of the symbols that we think of as 'traditional' such as horseshoes and wedding bells are really quite modern.
    Like any tradition, lovespoons are always changing!!


  4. Amazing work! Looking forward to following along.