Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Luuuuuuv Tsunami

Bookmark and ShareI've had a couple of pretty intense commissions on the go lately.  I like to have several spoons on the go at once because it lets me move from spoon to spoon and 'stay fresh'.   With something like carving, I find it is very easy to get hyper-focussed and hit a point where I no longer see what is right in front of my nose.   By spending an hour or two on each spoon then moving to a different design and different tasks, I find that I can more clearly stay on top of things.  Often,  I will also carve a more whimsical design to 'lighten things up' a bit and as a way to relax between more complicated projects.

The "Love Tsunami" is one of those spoons.   Inspired by a Japanese woodcut of a towering wave, I wanted to design a spoon which had a solid but liquid feel on one side (if that makes any sense at all!!!) and a an airy 'wafty' feel to the other.  I wanted the wave to curl over a pair of hearts which 'roll with flow'

seemingly tossed by the wave, but remaining resolutely joined despite whatever comes along.  The rich cherry wood with its delightful flecks of colour and strong grain intensify the watery feel of the design.

I also wanted this lovespoon to be very sculptural and a touch abstract.   I wanted to portray a wave, but beyond that, I wanted some of the other details to be open to a bit more interpretation.  Is this a half heart or a more gently cresting wave, is it the sandy shore which represents a safe harbour for our wave tossed hearts or a sleek raven watching the scene unfold below?  I know what it is for me, but it could be any of those things and more for other viewers.

But I confess, I can't help myself with the romantic stuff!!!  The spoon seemed to work with this lovely double heart motif which I have used on several other of my spoons.   I think it is both expressive and symbolic and I never grow tired of carving them!  What can I say, it's a luuuuuvspoon!

Granted, this spoon won't appeal to everyone, in fact, it might not appeal to anyone.  But I'll put it on the wall and I'll enjoy it!  And maybe one day that person will come along who falls in love with it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Right Stuff

Bookmark and ShareI'm blogging about this very simple traditionally styled Welsh lovespoon because the young man who commissioned it got it right!!

Although the budget was modest and the design pretty restrained, I love everything about this spoon; and here's why:

The young man is a Canadian marrying a Welsh girl.  He made the effort to look up some Welsh traditions and came across the lovespoon.  Although not a carver, he did some more research and came across my website (so double bonus points there!!) whereupon, he commissioned me to help him realize his wish of presenting his wife to be with this beautiful reminder of her Welsh roots and his love for her.  THAT'S all good stuff!

He wanted the spoon to have a traditional feel and so we opted for a lovely 'panel' style spoon with a broad, squarish panel and a nice swan neck stem leading to the elegant bowl.  Chosing this style of spoon also gave me the opportunity to include one of the most beautiful circular motifs I have ever come across.  I'd love to be able to take credit for this evocative 'tree of live' pattern with its wonderfully stylized branches and the elegant hearts which form the tree's trunk....alas, this was the creation of a clever Welsh carver whose name has been lost to the mists of time.   Although I made a couple of simple modifications, the design's feeling is intact and its beauty is there for all to see.

Simple beauty which is the hallmark of real Welsh lovespoon carving

Throughout the rest of the handle are included a number of simple but poignant symbols traditional to the art of lovespoon carving.   The keyhole pattern suggests the young woman holds the key to the young man's heart, the lovely comma shapes indicate the soul (for longwinded and quirky reasons that only the Welsh could come up with) and the diamonds indicate a wish for prosperity.   The couple's initials add a further personal flourish to the detailing.
The really unique detail is the orca and lobster motif.  With one half of the couple coming from the East Coast of Canada and the other from the West, no two things could more perfectly symbolize that than the Nova Scotia lobster and the West Coast Orca.   Although the detailing had to be kept pretty simple, these simple symbols pack a LOT of meaning for the happy couple and that is how it should be!

Though simply rendered, these details pack a lot of meaning!

As I referred to in a previous blog, it is this merging of content and intent which really make a lovespoon come to life.  Without meaning, the spoon is simply a pretty carving....and this lovely little spoon is much more than simply a pretty carving!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Simple Beauty

Bookmark and ShareI spend a lot of my time carving really complicated Celtic knotwork, over-the-top foliage and lots of crazy stuff that helps make my lovespoons nice and unique.

However, I also love to make really simple spoons that stretch me to 'do a lot with a little'.  During my recent visit with fellow lovespoon carver Laura Jenkins Gorun down in Ohio, Laura presented me with a selection of buckeye boards which were small enough to cram into my hand-luggage for the flight home.
Up until then, I had only known of buckeyes as those tasty, tasty little chocolate and peanut butter orbs which share the same name as the tree...in fact, I thought that is why they called Ohio the Buckeye State!!   After all, who would nickname a state after a tree when there is a sweet chocolate confection out there demanding recognition!!
Chocolate aside, I finally had a crack at carving a piece and this lovely little spoon is the result.   Based on a Norwegian design, I managed to squeeze the design onto the smallest of the pieces Laura had given me and even got it to line up so that the bowl landed right on top of a gloriously figured section.
The 'tiger-stripe' figure gives the bowl some real visual drama, but it is a nightmare to carve wood which has such interlocked grain.  Although I am not a big fan of sandpaper, it turned out to be the saving grace in getting a nice, fair and smooth surface throughout the bowl.
The buckeye is a pleasing yellow tone and is very light and delicate.  Carving it was a dream in all the areas that weren't figured and it seemed to accept the knife without too many complaints (unlike cherry, walnut and poplar).
The simple design is nicely 'old school' and very romantic.  With a few decades of handling, the finish will get a beautiful patina and that figuring will glimmer like northern lights!!
It might not taste as good as a chocolate buckeye, but it will last longer and is completely non-fattening!
How sweet is THAT??