Monday, April 30, 2012

A step back, and a framework...

Bookmark and Share

Laura here - Dave let me have a whirl at the blog this week. After Jen's lovely "Tree of Life" design, Chris' inspiring "Celebrate Your Roots" theme, and David's beautiful integration of them both with the addition of some of his fantastic knotwork, it's about time I start contributing something, anyway, I think. I believe when Dave left us last week, he mentioned I'd be trying to come up with some kind of "magic" to lend to the overall form of the spoon. Hmm. No pressure, though... ;) Ha.

I wish I could just come back with something as finished and beautiful as everyone's done so far, but, well.... I like to think I'm not completely insane. ;) Realistically, I knew it was probably time for a step back. After the initial discussions with Dave, my task was to go away and work on a general framework that would include 4 balls in a cage made of roots, growing out of a bowl, then reaching up to form a handle that would include Jen's tree of life with some stuff Dave was going to build up around it, and possibly some other element topping it all off. In the midst of this discussion, Dave had also sent over a rough sketch showing me that we were on the same page with our thoughts of an underlying very organic root/vine framework - whatever shape it may be. We talked about this very modern, organic look, but also talked about "Celebrate your roots" hinting at tradition. Before I even had a chance to get to my drawing board, Dave came back with the lovely rosette we saw in last week's blog, so I had that to keep in mind, too. I asked him its size, which helped me start thinking scale, and right away, to be cautious about letting the size get away from us.

So, with all these thoughts in mind, I taped together two large pieces of tracing paper, some print-outs of the rosette at different sizes, and sat down at the drawing board. Hmmmm.


Well, I had to start somewhere, so I started with the bowl. I think I drew about a dozen bowl shapes, but finally arrived at one I liked well enough at least to move on. Then, I started drawing some roots growing out of it, coming together to begin to form a cage. I had lots of thoughts about caged balls, definitely about how the cage will be organic and irregular, and NOT with straight bars, like a normal cage, and I thought about proportions of all the parts and all the mechanics of it.... then started to draw it, when I quickly realized that drawing something organic really can't be sketched - because nothing is left to the imagination like you can do with regular and geometric shapes. So I'll really just needed to  draw an example, not necessarily a final drawing here. So I drew roots up from the bowl to the base of the cage, then erased them and drew them again, then erased and re-drew, ..... several times... And about now, I also became overwhelmed with questions, many coming from the compulsive planner in me, and suddenly I was stuck. So here's the beginnings of a root cage coming up from a bowl just to give Dave an idea for the direction I had in mind, but I really haven't even begun to draw in the complexity of the cage that I have in mind, though it may give you an idea of where I'm going with it:

It's probably less obvious here because I've erased about 20 versions, but I was lost in the details. I needed to get back to the overall framework, but how to get on with that? Hmm... then all the questions kept popping up in my head again, like - Who would be carving what parts, because that could affect proportions a lot, and did Dave have any great desire to carve the caged balls? - that could be REALLY fun, so if he wanted to do it, I didn't want to take it from him. And what dimensions could we work with, and how small did he think we could get this rosette, with it still big enough for him to be comfortable carving it, because I was mapping out some proportions and it could get really big? and did he have something in mind for the top of the spoon, because I couldn't really think of anything? And did he have some kind of wood in  mind, because this will be a big one, and could we get a big enough board? And who would carve the bowl? And I shared an idea I had for keeping the design unified by having each of us take a couple passes building out the root/vine/foliage framework - so what did he think of that? And did he have thoughts for any other elements he'd want to include? And who would carve first this time? I think I even mused over a rough schedule.... I'm sure there was more... Dave patiently indulged my incessant questioning, and, after some discussion, here are the resulting framework sketches I sent him - keep in mind, the circle is the rosette you saw last week, the bowl is smooth and solid, the narrow part above it is a root cage with 4 balls, and everything else (for now) is an unspecified density of loose, organic roots/vines/foliage:

 You may notice, these are all symmetrical. I did actually try some asymmetrical shapes, but didn't come up with any that were good. I don't know if that's because I just couldn't come up with any (sometimes you just don't have the muse for these things, when other times you do), or if perhaps I just still had that "roots" hinting at "tradition" idea that Dave mentioned still in my head. Regardless, I asked Dave if any of these appealed to him, and he liked the second one, so that's what we'll use. Progress! Yay!

So - Next, he was beginning to have a flurry of ideas for more elements to build around the rosette, and he'd need a cleaner, more refined version of the frame to work with, so I sent him one - and I thought it might be useful to also see the rosette in different sizes and positions. I'd printed it out, now, in sizes ranging from 4.5 to 7 inches, looking at it in relation to tools, etc., and decided it looked too small any smaller than 4.5 inches, and probably looked best between 4.5 and 5 inches, depending on what else he'd put around it. Anyway - So here's some of that thought process, in pictoral form.

 That's a 6" ruler there, to give you some perspective... Then, to try out different sizes, in different places....

Oh, and I sent him a nice, clean blank one, too, so he can place the rosette exactly where he wants it.

I think the next step is to actually build out some detail here in the bottom half, while Dave plays a bit more with these ideas he's got to build more around the rosette, and then we'll hopefully have two parts we can start to figure out how to integrate soon. I can see us getting very carried away with this one... this is going to be fun!!! You'll definitely want to get lots of tickets for your chance to win this one!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We're underway!!

Bookmark and Share Jen Delyth contributed a beautiful "Tree of Life" design for our fourth West Coast Eisteddfod lovespoon! I'm very excited about it as I have always wanted to try carving one of Jen's stunning Celtic designs in wood and now have my opportunity! This year's spoon will be quite the collaboration and will focus around both the 4 theme (as it is the forth year of the Eisteddfod) and the theme of 'Celebrating Your Roots'. I have taken a bit of time and have embellished Jen's Tree with a nice, simple Celtic 'heart' knot, which I think is most apt for a lovespoon. I've also included the theme "Celebrate Your Roots' in both Welsh and English in Celtic font. The resultant 'rosette' feels and looks pretty sweet and is going to be a lot of fun (and hard work) to carve.
With this part finished, I am going to send the design down to Laura Jenkins Gorun to see what kind of wonderful magic she can add to the overall idea. We've discussed a couple of ideas already and Laura is ready to try a couple of design themes out. So next week, we should have a better idea of how the entire handle and bowl arrangement is going to play out.
 I've also received word from Ceri and Gaabi over at the Left Coast Eisteddfod that we've got yet another exciting announcement to make about this year's lovespoon draw!! From Ceri: "This year there will be an additional prize. The winner of last year's Poetry and Storytelling Competitions, Chris Chandler, will be a judge at this year's event and will be composing a short poem on the theme 'Celebrate Your Roots' which will be printed, framed and presented along with the spoon to the winner of this years draw."
 It was Chris who came up with our Celebrate Your Roots theme and if you are familiar with his work, you'll know that this poem will be a corker!

 With four very talented contributors to this year's spoon, we have a very deep well of artistic talent to draw from! I am hoping that you will be inclined to stop by and visit everybody's work at their websites, which follow below!
 To see Laura Jenkins Gorun's gorgeously delicate lovespoons, visit:
 Be dazzled by Jen Delyth's Celtic art at:
 Hear Chris Chandler's word craft (including my personal fav Beyond Pollution) at
 Me? I'm at:

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I'm very excited to announce that a date and place have been decided for this years West Coast Eisteddfod!! It will be held at the Multnomah Arts Center in Portland, Oregon on Saturday October 13th and once again Laura Jenkins Gorun and I are teaming up to produce the Eisteddfod Lovespoon.

As in previous years, the lovespoon will be raffled off to a lucky winner who will be announced at the Eisteddfod event in October. The money raised from your generous donations to the Left Coast Eisteddfod will go directly to supporting the event. Each dollar you donate will equal one chance to win the spoon. Naturally, I would like to encourage you to donate many dollars so that your chances of winning improve, but even if you can only afford one or two, please join in as every single dollar is important! After all, it only takes one ticket to win...there's no reason why that ticket shouldn't be yours!!

We are also thrilled to announce that brilliant Celtic artist Jen Delyth has contributed to this year's lovespoon design!! Jen has kindly donated one of her lovely 'Tree of Life' designs and I am chomping at the bit to get to work carving it!! Building on the tree of life theme, we have decided that 'Celebrate Your Roots' will be the motto for this years lovespoon; a motto which is also perfectly apt for the entire Left Coast Eisteddfod!
Celebrating our Welshness AND one of our endearing and enduring Welsh traditions (three cheers for lovespoons!) is what the Eisteddfod Spoon is all about and we very much hope you will support us in our endeavour!

Please join Laura, Jen and myself in supporting the Left Coast Eisteddfod 2012 and earn yourself a chance to win our spoon while you are at it!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In a fit of spring madness, I decided to dust some of the lovespoons that hang in every nook and cranny of my house. This one was a particular pleasure to clean up because it has been a companion ever since my wife and I took our first backpacking and youth hostelling excursion to Europe many, many, many years ago.

We had been fortunate enough to spend a little bit of our time travelling with a friend of ours who worked for a European travel company and who had access to some accommodation just outside Firenze. As it turned out, the place was a little gatekeeper's cottage near to some very swanky villas, so we were feeling pretty highbrow...despite our tinned ravioli and jam sandwich budget.

One morning, I awoke to the sound of chainsaws and the smell of the most fragrant smoke I have ever inhaled. It was like Christmas pudding you could breathe....amazing!! I toddled outside to discover the groundskeepers busy pruning the Olive groves which surrounded the neighbouring hillsides. They had very kindly piled some of the larger logs just up the path from our digs, so I moseyed over and had my first look at olive wood. WOW!!! The figure of the grain was magic and the rich aroma of the freshly cut wood was wonderfully overwhelming...I had to have some!!!

But it wasn't that easy. First I had to 'acquire' a log without running afoul of whoever was planning to take the wood away, then I had to figure out a way to cut out a piece which could be transported all over Europe in a backpack without killing me. Thankfully, a rummage through the kitchen knife drawer provided me with an old cleaver which despite having seen much better days was perfect for a logging operation. A loose brick in the path provided the necessary 'bashing' implement for thumping said knife through the log .... I was in business.
Despite the olive wood's tendency to display a rowey, interlocked grain, I managed to batter that poor old knife through my little log a couple of times and successfully milled out a nice little board to accompany me on my further travels. Once packed away, it even made my clothes smell wonderfully 'fruitcakeish' (which I suppose made a nice metaphor for me and my lovespoon obsession!).
That lovely little chunk of olive spent months travelling with us all over the European continent and throughout Great Britain. No doubt I could have just bought a bit at a lumberyard when I got home, but there was something very romantic about the circumstances of its acquisition and of lugging it around from pillar to post.

Once home, I confess that it sat quietly unnoticed amongst a pile of my old clothing and Euro souvenirs for quite some time before I finally decided that it would make a great memento of our engagement (which had occurred during our European sojourn).
It was wonderful to work that olivewood and I still have a couple of the offcuts which I have used to make little inlay hearts for spoons carved for some of my Italian clients. Some of the unsuable offcuts I save just to touch against the belt sander when I get nostalgic and want to smell that lovely olivewood aroma filling my shop once again.
Maybe one day I'll get back to Italy during pruning season, but until then, I have this lovely, simple little spoon to set my memories off and to remember a happy little adventure!