Monday, March 29, 2010

Dragon development...

When looking at Laura's sketch for the Left Coast Eisteddfod lovespoon, I couldn't help but notice that the vinework she had drawn just above the double bowls reminded me of a little stylized dragon.
first sketch of dragon lovespoon design
This was fortuitous as we had both wanted to make sure a dragon was included somewhere in this year's design. Having it 'pop up' like this made working it into the design a breeze...if only designing things was always made so simple!!
I really liked the 'knotwork' effect the overlapping vines were making in this section of the spoon and I was anxious to keep that effect going with the dragon. To achieve the intertwined look it was necessary for the dragon to become much more sylized than last years version. This year, the dragons' legs emerge from the bowls and wind off to become the tail (which will continue on through the design), the wings and the neck/head area. The dragons tongue will also become a nice windy section of knotwork while his chest area weaves over itself and through the framework section of the original drawing. As with last year's dragon, he has a proud but not overly aggressive demeanor.

sketch of dragon lovespoon design
I love to make heart shaped bowls whenever I can, so it was a nice surprise when this sketch showed me Laura likes them too! However, with changes to the dragon underway, it became apparant that the lovely heart-shaped bowls were a bit too symmetric and looked a little bit 'still'. By raising one bowl just slightly higher than the other, we created a little bit of visual tension and gave the area a subtle feeling of movement. Stretching the bowls out a bit made them feel a bit more dynamic as well. I'm pretty excited about the little dragon and am very keen to see what Laura comes up with for the upper sections of the design!

dragon lovespoon design sketch

- Dave

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The sketching begins!

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Potential customers are always surprised that creating the sketch for a lovespoon design takes as much time and effort as it does. As much as I wish I could just dip a bucket into a never-end well of ideas and pull out a finished drawing whenever I felt like it, it rarely happens that way. In fact coming up with the initial design spark or theme concept is the hardest part of the whole process. Generally, I count on a good third of the total time involved in the creation of a lovespoon to be taken up in design work.

Which is why, when Laura and I began trading some ideas via email to see if we could come up with a start concept, I figured it would be quite a while before anything much started to come together. Sure, we did have a couple of initial ideas such as our plan to work with the idea of '2' and the idea of incorporating symbols of both Wales and America, but scant else after that! So it was a complete surprise and shock when after only an hour or two this lovely sketch appeared in my inbox.

Laura had been working on an idea for a spoon with two layers and had mailed the sketch over to illustrate some of the descriptions she had mentioned during the emails. The design as shown, is a way to mix organic and traditional designs while using the double layers to highlight the '2' idea. Talk about a great start to the project! A lot of guys would be delighted to have this as a working drawing, let alone having it as a 'rough sketch'. I can already see a couple of potential ideas lurking in there and feel like we've rocketed over the hard part already!
- Dave

When Dave first asked me to join him for this project, I was very excited, so my mind was flooded with thoughts, but very disorganized. How would I make some sense of this chaos, and merge these ideas with Dave's? How does he approach coming up with a theme, or what elements to include, or what message to convey? Then, Dave suggested "two" as a theme, which made a great basis, and helped give some direction to the chaos in my head. So - Here I am, getting to work on a spoon with this carver whom I admire so much - naturally, I hope to learn from him, and hopefully even try something a little ambitious. I am so excited, I probably inundated him with thoughts and questions. But then, we started discussing ideas over email, and before I knew it, some ideas were easier drawn than described, so I sent a sketch over to Dave. It was especially to show him the 2-layer "bridge" idea I'd had on a recent design, but I got carried away and drew the rest of a spoon, too - trying to illustrate a few other ideas we had mentioned. I didn't intend for it to be a starting point, but once Dave suggested it, I realized I liked it, too. So there we were! This collaberation thing seems to be going well!

We had talked about playing on our strengths - as far as I can tell, everything is Dave's strength, and I suppose some of mine will reveal themselves. For instance, it seems I may be good for general shapes or concepts. Someone once asked me which I liked better: designing spoons, or carving them. I don't remember if I was ever able to come up with an answer. But, I do know that I struggle when I get into the details, so I'm hoping Dave doesn't. I am excited to see what happens next!!
- Laura

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm very excited to be working on another lovespoon for the Left Coast Eisteddfod!

I'm very excited to be working on another lovespoon for the Left Coast Eisteddfod! After the success of last year's spoon and the enthusiastic response it generated for the Left Coast Eisteddfod, we decided to make it an annual event.
This time, though, I wanted to try something a bit different. I'll be designing and carving this lovespoon in concert with Ohio lovespoon carver, Laura Gorun, so it will very much be a joint effort! Laura is relatively new to lovespoon carving, but her spoons have the sophisticated design and elegant craftsmanship of someone who has been at it for much longer!! I'm certain that working with her is going to yield a really marvelous lovespoon!
Although we will be separated by many thousands of miles and have only ever met through the internet, we plan to design the spoon via lots of back-and-forth emails, taking advantage of the incredible opportunities for collaboration the electronic age has opened up.
Our 'theme' for the lovespoon will be "2." As it is the second year of the Eisteddfod, the number 2 seemed a good jumping off point for the design. We also thought that with one of us being male and the other female, one of us fairly new to carving, one an 'oldtimer' and with us living in two different countries, 2 seemed to crop up everywhere. The challenge now will be for us to work that into a viable design!!
When it comes time to carve the lovespoon, we will carve half the spoon each. Like all carvers, we each have elements that we are good at and some that we are not quite as comfortable with, so we will attempt to divvy up the carving so that we each work as much as possible to our strongest suit.
This will be a unique experiment for both of us, especially given that lovespoon carving is generally a pretty solitary endeavour. For both of us, working with another set of ideas and attitutes toward lovespoon carving will both open design doors and create some challenges!
The plan is to work up the design over the next couple of weeks and then begin the carving process. This blog will illustrate what we have been getting up to and will show the whole process from initial rough ideas to the finished piece. Both Laura and I hope that you will enjoy following along and that you will be inspired to donate to the Left Coast Eisteddfod for your chance to win the completed lovespoon!!
Next week we'll post the first set of drawings and then the hard stuff starts!
In the meantime, we hope you will visit us at: to view Laura's handmade lovespoons
and to view David's work
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Here is a picture of the 2009 spoon...

Monday, March 1, 2010


Competitions for the 2010 Left Coast Eisteddfod have been launched on AmeriCymru and we're hard at work planning this year's physical event in Portland, Oregon.

Online competitions this year include poetry in Welsh, Spanish and English with judges respectively John Good, Geraldine Mac Burney and Peter Thabit Jones; short fiction to be judged again this year by the very excellent Lloyd Jones; Images judged by photographer Glyn Davies.

David Western has very generously offered to create another work of art to support the 2010 event and this year will be collaborating with another artist, lovespoon carver Laura Gorun of Ohio.

David was born in Cardiff but emigrated to Canada, where he now lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Dave has been carving lovespoons for over 20 years and is the author of The Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons. This spoon will be Dave's first collabation with another lovespoon artist and he is delighted to be working with Laura on it.

Laura, a native of Akron, Ohio now lives and carves in Worthington, Ohio. Laura is of Welsh descent through a paternal grandfather and "relatively new" to lovespoon carving. More of her work can be seen here.

This year's blog will follow the process of the creation of the 2010 spoon, with contributions from both artists. As a starting point, they have decided on a theme of "Two" for this year's spoon: two countries, two carvers and the second Eisteddfod. Collaborating on the designing and carving will be a new experience for both Dave and Laura, especially since they live and work in Canada and the US, respectively, a couple of thousand miles apart. The inevitable challenges and learning experiences for both carvers working together should add an interesting twist to this year's blog and the carving experience. On behalf of the Left Coast Eisteddfod, we at AmeriCymru thank you both very, very much for the contribution of your talent, your creativity, your labor and your generous kindness and look forward to the journey of creation of this spoon.

Happy Saint David's Day 2010!

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