Wednesday, July 21, 2010


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I've had a request for some 'profile' shots of the Left Coast Eisteddfod lovespoon. So for any carvers in the crowd or those who are interested in seeing what one of these things looks like from the side. Here is a detail shot of the bowl end of the spoon. Unfortunately it is hard to get a shot which accurately shows the doming of the front face as well as the 'swan-neck' effect of the bowls joining the handle.
Showing the spoon from the bowl end again, this occasionally in focus shot at least gives an idea of the lateral curve this spoon has. This doming seems to really bring Celtic knotwork to life and should help our little dragon and eagle look a bit more vibrant!

For those with a thing for blurry photos, today is your lucky day! This one shows the extent of the doming from the crown end. Not a terribly exciting photo, but I can tell you that getting a spoon curved like this without blowing it up has its challenges!!

Hopefully, some of you are wondering what the hell the spoon is actually shaping up to look like! Well, wonder no more! I've finished the front face of the dragon and the knotwork...I've also finished the daffodil but the camera is acting up so no pics this week. The birch is coming up beautifully with some nice little colour streaks and a good, consistant grain. It is a pleasure to carve!
With the front face done, I have to carefully redraw all the 'over and under' lines for the knotwork on the back face. Care and caution are required here as it is remarkably easy to mess up the lines and make a right-old ballsup of things if even just one gets out of whack!
Some shallow cutting brings up the knotwork and still leaves me an escape route if I make an error and have to change a knot. Having that little bit of extra material to play with can be a lifesaver if there is a mistake made!
With the spoon starting to show its potential, I would like to once again make a plea for donations! The Left Coast Eisteddfod needs your support and in exchange for every dollar you donate, will give you an opportunity to win this spoon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Something to consider...

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I was very excited to see the start Dave has made on the spoon, especially seeing it all cut out. Seeing the blank all cut out is one of my favorite parts of the spoon-making process. It feels like a milestone accomplished. It also means that now is time for carving, which is another favorite part. For me, though, this time I still have to wait! It is making me all twitchy to wait to hold the cut blank in my hand and study how the coloration of the wood is showing up on the design.
While I wait, though, I realize there is something I should consider: my work space.
I know it's a mundane topic, but it's something that needs serious consideration. So, today, I thought I would muse a bit about considerations for a work space.

Dave seems to have a proper workshop, complete with appropriate workspace, and all the right tools and equipment. He has been woodworking for much longer than I have. I, on the other hand, have a very limited workshop, with no proper workbench or carving space. I'm workin' on it, though....

Meanwhile, this is my normal workspace, for the most part:
I am usually, however, working on spoons 12" or less. That is quite manageable in an armchair. This spoon, on the other hand, is 17" long, and I suspect it may be less manageable in an armchair. I'll need to decide on a more proper workspace - I'm considering building the work bench I've been meaning to build for over a year. We'll see.

So, first, the workspace has to "fit" the item being carved, keeping both the item AND you safe. You need to be able to move your elbows and other parts of your body freely around the piece, as necessary. You also need room to keep your tools handy.

Why not use the dining room table?
Second consideration: Things can happen with tools - so I don't let them anywhere near furniture I don't care to get nicks and scrapes, etc.. Well, I really like my dining room table. I think it was built by my Great Grandfather, from a walnut tree that was in their yard. So, dining room table is out.

Third consideration: what happens with all the wood chips? Well, they fall on me or the table, and then probably onto the floor. So wherever I choose, I need to be able to sweep up the chips, or leave them (like when I carve outside). I also need to live with the few rogue chips that will remain between cushions in my chair, or in some other corner of the room until I do the super-thorough sweep.

Fourth consideration: The spoon needs a safe place when I'm not working on it. A workbench (in a room where my dogs are not allowed - like my workshop in the basement) would be a good place for that. So... I think I probably should get building soon! I also tend to hang in-progress spoons on a pegboard in the same room as my armchair. Storage just requires that nothing is set on top of the spoon (or pushes it around), and no dogs can get to it.

These are the main considerations I'm making, at any rate.
- Laura

Monday, July 5, 2010

In Memoriam

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Many of the woodcarvers who read this blog will have no doubt noticed the Preferred Edge Tool Company advertisement which has run on the sidebar of this blog for the last two years. Owned and operated by master metalcraftsman Mike Komick, Preferred Edge carving knives are the tools of choice for legions of woodcarvers throughout the world and I can think of no finer bent-bladed knives than those made by Mike. Sadly, Mike passed away quite unexpectedly this last weekend.

I am both shocked and deeply saddened by his passing and I know that all in the carving community who knew Mike will feel the same way. A larger than life personality, Mike always had time to discuss tools and carving and was constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve upon the tools we carvers use.

It is a tragic loss for Mike's family that he has left us and I send them my heart-felt condolences. It is also an enormous loss to the carving community who will no longer benefit from his remarkable craftsmanship.
I feel extremely fortunate to have made Mike's acquaintance and will treasure the tools he has made for me over the years.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cutting complete

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I've finished all the scroll sawing on the Left Coast Eisteddfod spoon Mark II and it is shaping up really nicely! The top section looks much more elegant now the excess wood has been removed and it's given me a clearer idea of what Laura and I have to work with (and against). Unfortunately the paper is obscuring the lovely figure of the birch wood, but the nice thing is it will all start revealing itself as we start carving. Sort of like a little burlesque show for wood weirdos!!! Anyway, I'm looking forward to finishing my part of the spoon so that Laura can start work on this top area.

Here's a close up of the eagle and daffodil section that will mostly be Laura's terrain. We have agreed that I will do one of the daffs and Laura will do the top section of the knots so that our hands (and our styles of working) are present in both sections of the spoon. The pressure will be on me to pull off a nice job on my daff since flowers are one of Laura's specialties! So I'll try to do an over-the-top job on my part of the Celtic knotwork and throw a bit of pressure back the other way!
We're getting close to the really fun part of the project when the carving gets exciting and the spoon really takes shape...stay tuned!