Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Top

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I found myself very much in agreement with Dave's new, more tapered shape. It also left a little more room for me to play in the top part. My only regret is that the dragon was seeming a little small to me, and the eagle looked especially big. I had been having another problem, though, with my flower ideas for the top. I really like the little flowers like I'd been drawing - I had recently completed another spoon, in fact, using little flowers.
However, as you can see, these flowers are scattered upon a natural central vine structure in this design. I did not like the idea of creating a web of vines simply to support small flowers within the top area of our Eisteddfod spoon. Also, while these little vanilla flowers (both figuratively and literally) can symbolize gentleness and affection, I found myself yearning for a little bit more Welsh symbolism in this spoon. After this train of thought, and missing the prevalence the Welsh Dragon in the design, my mind went to daffodils. So, I made some designs with 2 daffodils - I thought it could be fun if Dave and I each made a daffodil. To begin, though, I would need to establish a vine structure to tie the eagle into the rest of the design. I wanted to get that to the point where we were both happy with it, and then we could finalize two daffodils. So, I went about some vine-drawing again, this time deliberately leaving some space for daffodils. A quick email exchange with Dave revealed that he liked the 2 daffodil idea, as well. We had always wanted to have some part that we both do together, and two takes on essentially the same subject would satisfy that desire.

After all this thought, I started with Dave's expanded frame and drew up a series of new drawings, 4 of which I sent on to Dave. I included some daffodils, but asked Dave not to consider them - just to consider the main vinework. The daffodils (and some leaves) I drew here were just placeholders. We may want to make them bigger, or positioned differently... we could concern ourselves with that part next.
Dave and I now needed to consider what we liked or didn't like about the drawings - hopefully there would be a clear favorite. What do you think? Any favorites? Let us know! - Laura
<-- Top B . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

.Top C -->

<-- Top E . . . . . . . . . . . . Top F -->

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Middle

Well, after having a really good, hard look at the new knotwork, I am in agreement with Laura that it needs to come down a bit, so I am going to have a bash at putting it just above the dragon and getting rid of the circle idea. I think if I can fatten up some of the knotwork just above the dragon's head, it will give some visual weight to the area and will let me tie the knot in a bit more smoothly.

With the knotwork moved, there seems to be a 'tapering' feeling to the flow of the overall design, so I have widened the top area with the eagle a bit more and am tying the knotwork through. My hope is that we can surround the frame with the eagle and the knotwork and give things more of a three dimensional feel. It will make for some nasty carving problems, but should look pretty smart if we can pull it off!

After looking at this newest outline for a while, I am feeling that it is a bit stubby and too short at the top.

I have opted to paste a couple of photocopies together to see if lengthening the top section helps things at all. Although it feels a bit empty and airy through the top section now, I think that the overall form of the design is very close to right now and that Laura will be able to fill in this area with some of her lovely vine or floral ideas.
In the meantime, a quick reminder that you can win the finished spoon simply by donating to the Left Coast Eisteddfod. Every dollar you donate equals a chance at winning, so more dollars equals more chances!! Please consider supporting this worthwhile event and helping to further Welsh cultural events in North America!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Re-arranging things...

sketch of lovespoon design My immediate thought when I saw Dave's drawing with the knotwork tied in with the eagle's tail was that the knotwork would make a lovely central part of the spoon. I share Dave's appreciation for the message that Celtic knotwork conveys - forever and Celtic heritage, among other things. Cymru am byth! (Wales forever!) Seems like a good central message for this spoon! I made several different drawings, arranging, re-arranging, changing sizes.... all sorts of things.

Here is where I arrived:
I am still unsure about the top half- I like the idea of vinework wrapping around the flat frame-like part. I still was unsure of how I wanted to do flowers, or if we should even try a couple daffodils instead, but moving the knotwork into the middle would leave room at the top for Dave and I to do something together. Also, above the knotwork, I added a little twist that I seem to do in a lot of my designs. I thought it might be a good transition from Dave's style to mine. I also drew a couple simple vines, still tying the knot into the eagle's tail, and behind the frame, also into the wing. Before I went too far working on ideas for the top, though, I wanted Dave's thoughts about moving the knotwork into the middle. If he likes this, and doesn't miss the circle in the middle too much, then we can work on the top part next. We'll see what Dave thinks...

- Laura

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Wow!! After going through Laura's flurry of excellent ideas, it looks like we will be spoiled for choices idea-wise!
Any one of the drawings she has come up with could form the basis for a marvelous lovespoon design so I've photocopied them all and am looking to see which design elements jump out at me and which don't.
I am very drawn to the eagle Laura has drawn with its wing wrapped dramatically around the top section of the spoon. I love the idea of the eagle appearing in our design as it is the symbol of America and it will go nicely with the Welsh dragon. Since the spoon symbolizes the merging of cultures, the dragon and eagle are very logical symbols, but I'd like to figure out a way to merge Laura's more realistic looking eagle into some Celtic knotwork as I have done with the dragon.
I also feel there is a section above the central circle which feels a bit too 'light'. To give this section a bit more weight without having it become overwhelmingly heavy, I want to utilize a nice pattern of Celtic knotwork.
While Celtic knotwork is almost unheard of on historical lovespoon examples, it has been embraced by modern lovespoon carvers to represent the notion of eternity or eternal love. This is especially so when the knot is circular or is 'enclosed' with no beginning or ending to the knot. For our spoon, the notion of eternity as it relates to the emigration of the Welsh to North America is an apt one. the Welsh have been here since the earliest European arrivals and hopefully will remain here as long as there is a North America! I don't know if Laura feels as strongly about it as I do, but for me, things like this lovespoon and the Left Coast Eisteddfod it is being made in support of, vividly illustrate that despite being the 'forgotten Celts', the Welsh have made and continue to make vibrant contributions to North American culture. I should mention that this spoon is being designed and crafted to help raise funds for the Left Coast Eisteddfod which will be held in Portland, Oregon on October 03-10, 2010. This will be the second year for this annual event and an exciting combination of online cultural competitions and live events in Portland. Please visit: to learn more. Your donation to the Left Coast Eisteddfod will earn you a chance to win this spoon, so even if you don't want to enter the competitions, you could still win a very lovely prize!!

So, with a nice Celtic knot in mind, I selected Laura's eagle crowned spoon with its little cascade of flowers. The lower body of the eagle merges into the knotwork, but its upper body remains pretty realistic. I changed some of the framework around and utilized some of the bottom section of the frame to create the origin of the knot. The knotwork has nicely filled in some of the 'empty' spaces, but I now am not so happy about the central circle. Originally, I had hoped that it would become the focal area of the spoon, but I'm not so sure about it now. It will be interesting to hear Laura's views on whether or not she likes the knotwork and where she thinks we should go with it next!

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An eagle and lots of flowers

I was very happy to see Dave's Dragon, with its knotwork tongue, because I have always felt that dragons and knotwork were two things very distinct within his style. They were fantastic. I would never have seen that lurking in that first sketch, but I was very happy that he did!

I had a lot to live up to with the next part. We'd talked about having elements distinct to each of our styles, so I tried to think about what is distinct in my style. We had talked about having an eagle, so I wanted to give that a try, but I never drew an eagle before, so I wasn't sure how much it would look like my style. One thing I know I do a lot is to make small flowers. So, I started there. I'd need a vine structure underneath small flowers, too. Almost immediately, I abandoned the bridge idea, and drew in some vines that would fit around the flat, frame-like component from the initial sketch. I also wanted to keep the central part, for Dave and I to try to do something together. So - I was focusing on the top half of the frame.

I started with a vine structure, and sketched in an eagle. I had made a few side-sketches of an eagle, after looking at a few photographic references. I was trying to decide on a position, and some generalities that make an eagle an eagle. There's something about the shape and strength of the wings and tail, along with the hooked beak and stern-looking eye, that I felt made an eagle look like an eagle. I knew one position I liked was what I saw at Eagle's Point at the Grand Canyon... if rocks could look so distinctly like an eagle, then I could certainly find a simple way to draw an eagle. After sketching a few positions, the position you see in this first drawing is where I landed.

I liked the movement, and I liked having lots of wing showing. Also, with this position, he could wrap around the frame, and enough of him would still show from the front of the spoon. The only hesitation I had was, it looked very literal. I didn't have a solution, though, so I moved on, for the moment. 

One thing I learned in school (where I was mainly a painter), was to work on the whole piece, and not to be too precious with any one part. So I moved on to vines, coming up from the dragon's tongue and tail. I have to admit - I really like drawing vines and leaves. I see celtic knotwork, and I think: that looks fun! I want to try that! But, then I end up staring at a blank page for a while. Instead, I have decided that vines are my version of knotwork, though they are not very distinct like knotwork can be. Regardless, I like vines, and I try to keep to the over-under rule of celtic knotwork, as much as I can. So you see this first vine structure in this first drawing, too.
Next, I moved on to the little flowers idea. 

There are lots of types of little flowers I could draw. I wanted to do something somewhat star-shaped - so - 5 petals. 

I started with this drawing with lots of little star-shaped flowers scattered over the vines. 

I was going for different-sized flowers, to try to make them interesting. But, it just looked cluttered. I wasn't very sold on this sketch... I didn't even get around to drawing in the eagle. I still kept it, just in case Dave would see anything in there that I didn't.

Next, I tried a different vine structure, and the same type of flowers. This time, I drew in the eagle, and had him landing on one of the vines.

Hmm.... I liked the leaves sort of outlining the flat frame part on the sides... but wasn't sure how I felt about the rest. This would be just another sketch to see if there was any redeeming value. I did like the idea of the eagle being integrated into the vinework, even if it was in such a literal way. Here, I kept with the star-shaped simple flowers.

I still wasn't feeling it, though, so I kept drawing. I drew another arrangement of vines, this time going further with the outline idea around the frame. I also made some different flowers, like flowers I have enjoyed carving before. That might make them more distinctly "me", too. I was starting to like this one. I drew more vines, dangling from the inside top. I liked the look of this. I wasn't sure what, exactly to do with whatever came down into the center, but I knew I liked the idea. I thought it could help bring us into the center part, that Dave and I had been talking about having as something more merging our two styles. I was hoping Dave was formulating some ideas towards that center, while I was working on the top. Meanwhile, I was starting to feel good about this latest sketch:

So, I drew in some background to help make it easier to see. I had reached a point where I wanted input from Dave, so I sent these 4 sketches over to him. I also told him I was concerned about how literal the eagle was, and wondered if he had any suggestions for how to make it more stylized. I also wondered if he was having thoughts about the center part, as I was still drawing a blank about that. I also told him that I wasn't too concerned about the placement of the flowers, but was interested in what he thought of the different vine configurations, or if he especially liked a certain type of flower. Like I said - I just wanted some input from Dave at this point. :) I just hoped I hadn't given him information overload. I think I was already there. Let's see where Dave goes next!

- Laura

P.S. As an afterthought a few days later, I made an attempt at a stylized eagle - made of vines, and fitting into the rest of the vines. I also wanted to see how another type of small flowers might fit - this time, broader petals, like buttercups. So, despite the probably-too-many other sketches of eagle and flowers, I ventured into one more, and sent it along to Dave, to consider along with the others. Here's that last sketch:

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