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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

CHRISTMAS!!


Bookmark and ShareWith Christmas just around the corner, what better time to think about a beautiful lovespoon for your sweetie...or even for your spouse!  If you want something really unique and handmade, then I'm your man.   Each and every lovespoon is designed, carved and finished by me, and me alone!  The woods are all locally grown and if not salvage are from windfalls.  If you want to support a small business, then again, I'm your man.
If you'd rather some plastic, wireless, soulless crap from China, then you've stumbled across the wrong page.


Every one of these spoons is currently available (but with any luck they'll sell quick, so don't hang around if you want one!) and I do have a few others that I haven't photographed yet.  As I do most of my carving to custom order, I don't keep a catalogue of designs.  Whatever pops out of my head is what will wind up on here!  Prices for the above spoons vary from about 75 dollars to 450 with all points  between.  If one strikes your fancy, drop me a line and I'll let you know more.

Big thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years!!!!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Tiny Shop

Bookmark and ShareA few years back I decided to make myself a little shop down at the back corner of the garden.  At the time, the only thing going on there was an overgrown compost pile and an out of control bush that sent branches off in all directions and was in the process of falling over under its own weight.
After clearing an 8 foot by 12 foot space, I decided that my new shop would be a 'tiny shop'.  Having been used to doing my woodwork in spacious, warehouse-sized shops, this was my way of paring everything down to a bare minimum.
All I needed was space for a carving desk, some drawers for tool storage, a rack for my wood billets and an area that could house a small bandsaw and my trusty Delta Q3 scroll saw.  There was no need for table saws, jointers and huge vacuum systems and no space for them even if I wanted to cram them in!
I built the shop structure itself from a pile of old 2X4's I had laying around from previous jobs, and clad it with cheap OSB board.  My one luxury was to try out the Hardiplank cellulose/cement siding, which is great stuff!!



I finished the interior with a mix of painted OSB board and planking which I had salvaged from an old reno on my house.  The salvage planking gave me a nice 'old school' floor and a cute T&G ceiling which give the little place a nice vintage feel.
The cabinetry was largely cobbled together from offcuts of melamine board and cheap plywood rescued from various jobsites.
In all, the shop took me about 3 months of on-and-off work and cost somewhere between a 1000 and 1500 dollars!   Not bad considering it is fully insulated, trimmed and painted.
I could have wired it up and run a line back to my house, but I opted to just run a  heavy duty extension cord whenever I happen to need power...which isn't all that often.

It's a pretty sweet little shop and I hope that over the next few years I can spend more and more time in it!

Here's the view as you come in through the door.  Yes, it is unnaturally clean!!  I'm showing off.

 My little carving bench is pretty modest.  Usually it's covered in all manner of debris and not just this stylish storage case!
A view back toward the door showing the woodrack on the right.  I can store an astonishing amount of wood on its 22 inch deep shelves!!

Here's one last view showing the work bench, the storage drawers and some a little glimpse of my lovely old wood floor!   It's pretty amazing how compact yet efficient this little place is!   Tempted as I am to show you pictures of how it looks when I'm not trying to make an impression, I won't spoil the romance of this tidy, cute little shop with harsh reality!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bookmark and ShareWell, it's been a long while since I did any blogging.  LOTS has been going on, but because all the work I was doing was 'surprise' work, I couldn't post any pictures until I was sure that the spoons had all been received.  I'm sure that I would have been in a pretty serious dog-house if I was the one to wreck a surprise!!

I'm posting this spoon first because I am so pleased with it.  I have a real love for the art of North West Coastal First Nations artists.  Aside from being astonishingly beautiful, it is invariable packed with symbolic meaning and 'back story'.  Being a lovespoon carver who also uses his designs to 'tell stories', I find that aspect of various art forms very exciting and interesting.

But North West Coast art is NOT easy.  To master it requires years of dedicated study and practice and a real knowledge of the stories and legends which go into it.  Because I can never truly know how to create that art, I tend to enjoy it from afar.   But this commission gave me the opportunity to have a stab at combining NW Coastal style with Celtic.   To mask my deficiencies in the NW Coastal style, I kept that particular part of the design to a careful minimum...but I'm pretty confident with my Celtic knotwork and I let that become the bulk of the design.

My Eagle is fairly simple and straightforward and I very much hopes at least captures the essence of the NW style.   The bird's wing combines the two styles as much as possible and makes heavy use of the 'stylization' which both forms use to great advantage.
The paddle shape is based on a Haida canoe paddle but is rendered with Celtic knotwork to lighten it visually.  Elsewhere, the design relies heavily on Celtic knotwork and shaping for its form.


We took advantage of the surface found on the back of the eagle to include a very personal inscription which had significance to both the recipient of the spoon and the commissioner.  Sometimes a little bit of text makes a nice, poignant surprise when the spoon is turned over!

I'm pretty confident I will never be a Bill Reid, but I am very happy with how this spoon has turned out and how I have managed to unite two very different art styles in this little spoon!




Monday, April 7, 2014

A Political Comment

Bookmark and ShareThis is the first time I've ever done 'political commentary' with a lovespoon!  But I couldn't resist and call it, "Left, Right and Centre"
I just couldn't help but notice that just like politics, the closer you get to the extremes, the narrower and crazier things become.  The middle ground, however, stays beautiful, full and balanced.  

And there it is.  Everything you need to know about politics spelled out in one easy to understand visual graphic!


Actually, I'm kidding about the politics.  Politicians are idiots and so are we for ever believing that any of them actually mean one word of what they say!



What this really is, is a modern version of the traditional double bowled wedding spoon.  In many European cultures, double bowled spoons were presented at the wedding feast and the newly- married couple would take their first meal together using it.  In some places the spoons would have bowls which protruded at wild and impractical angles, no doubt causing great merriment when the couple unsuccessfully attempted to use them!




In other places, the use of the double spoon was a much more solemn occasion and the bowls would be arranged to make eating easy and like this one, romantic.   This spoon is VERY loosely based on a little Tirolean wedding spoon which featured bowls at opposite ends of the handle and which would have made that first shared morsel a very poignant moment!


The spoon itself is carved from a scrap of beautifully figured broadleaf maple.  The rough dimensions of the scrap dictated the overall shape of the spoon, but those sexy bowls were my idea and I take full credit for them!   The little maple stand lets the spoon be shown to best effect and along with the 'pagoda' sides of the handle lends the design a bit of an Asian feel.

Alas, as in politics, there's a bit of a crack in one of the extremes, so the spoon will not be going up for sale.  Unlike politics, lovespoon carving aint all about the money!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Special Anniversary

Bookmark and ShareI've just finished carving a very special 'bouquet of roses' for a wonderful couple celebrating their 10th anniversary.  They are repeat customers whom I feel exceptionally proud to be able to carve for!  Their love story is inspiring, uplifting and tremendously romantic; I feel great pride and no small sense of responsibility every time I pick up a carving tool on their behalf!




I can't go into their personal details too much, suffice to say I had lots of wonderful material to work with when designing this particular piece.  The husband is Welsh and of course, nothing says Welshness quite like a robust dragon!  As a symbol of strength and security the dragon is unrivalled, but we wanted it to possess a sense of tenderness as well.  With its gently bowed head and demeanour of non-aggression, this dragon is strong and solid, without being ferocious.  He stands guard for the couple and is always there as a reminder of history.  



The beautiful, swirling grain of the figured broadleaf maple chosen for this piece further accentuates the drama and feeling of movement in the coiled dragon's body.  An abalone eye flashes mischievously in the sun and adds character to the dragon's expressive face.



Although the 10 roses were a nightmare to carve, they are the focal point of the spoon and symbolically represent the 10 years of happiness, colour and growth experienced by our anniversary couple.  Hidden amongst the flowers are 10 little hearts to celebrate their love and a tiny diamond personalized with their initials.  The stems of the roses thankfully co-operated with me throughout the carving process and didn't exercise their 'woody stubbornness' by breaking!!  It's always a huge relief to negotiate a tricky carving process without the dread breakage.



The back of the spoon is nearly as detailed as the front.  The backs of the roses, leaves, stems and Celtic knotwork are all shaped as are the hearts and the diamond.  But the back of the dragon holds a short quotation which has great relevance to the couple and which acts as a little 'surprise' when the spoon is flipped over.  All of the Celtic knots are 'closed' knots which symbolize eternity as they have no beginning or end.

This spoon was not without its (many) challenges, but I am thrilled to bits to have been part of its creation and I hope it brings our couple many, many years of pleasure!!



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Are You Romantic Enough?

Bookmark and ShareWith Valentine's Day just over a week away, here's a quick question for you:
Are you romantic enough to give a lovespoon like this one to your sweetie, or are going to be content with the same-old-same-old chocolates and flowers routine?

This beautiful double-bowled spoon says, "Yr ydym ni ein dau yn un" (we two are as one) by unifying the two bowls into the single handle.  The broad panel style handle provides plenty of room for a series of beautiful hearts, a pair of eternal pinwheel swirls and a nice pair of 6 point 'flowers'.  The little comma symbols are said to represent the soul, but were more likely growth/fertility symbols in the old days.

The spoon bowls have been given a curious squared tip which replicates the look of an old spoon which has fallen from the wall and been repaired.  Many antique spoons display this feature which although it has no romantic symbolism whatsoever, is an engaging feature never-the-less.

The spoon has been carved from broadleaf maple which was hand milled by friends on their farm just outside Vancouver BC.  The wood shows a bit of spalting (dark streaks and patches caused by the early stages of decay) which lends the spoon some visual drama and a dash of flair!

Don't wimp out and opt for the same boring thing you did last year, this year surprise your 'cariad' with a REAL Valentine's gift!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Breton Wedding Spoons

Bookmark and ShareI'm finally starting to get the hang of the wax inlay process that is a necessary part of carving an authentic looking Breton wedding spoon.  After a couple of false starts...notably the poorly hinged folding spoon with the anaemic candle wax inlay to the left of the frame... I learned a few hard lessons and feel like I'm getting somewhere both with the carving and with the inlaying.

The middle spoon shows vast improvement simply from the use of quality sealing wax in place of the cheap candle wax I used for my initial experiment.  The other lesson I learned was to keep the depth and width of each little triangular chip as close to the same as possible.  It's tedious and time-consuming work cutting out all those little chips; work made even more difficult by the fact they become almost invisible until the wax is added.

The third spoon (black inlay to extreme right) is definitely a merging of Celtic cousins though.  The elegant Breton pattern becomes particularly fetching when filled with black wax that I rescued off the outside of a block of lovely Welsh cheese!  I don't know what kind of wax they use to seal "Little Black Bomber" mature cheddar, but it worked as good as the cheese tasted!  Perfect!!

I don't feel like I'm quite there yet and I'll definitely have to take a few more runs at the articulated version of the Breton spoon before I can be confident enough to take a commission on one, but I'm definitely enjoying learning about this lovely branch of the lovespoon family!!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Valentine's Day Approaches

Bookmark and ShareValentine's Day draws ever nearer and it's time to think about a lovely gift for your sweetie!!  Don't settle for the same old flowers and chocolates that you fall back on every year!!  Do something REALLY romantic and imaginative and commission one of my custom, hand-made lovespoons!!   Even if your budget only extends to something simple, it WILL be heart-felt, beautiful and romantic.  Beat THAT with your wilty roses and over-prices candies!!

If you think I'm full of stuff and nonsense, then just have an eye-ball at this lovely little Celtic style knots and hearts spoon carved from recycled old-growth fir.  Here's a wood that doesn't get the credit it is due from carvers (mainly because it isn't easy to get or to carve) but is STUNNINGLY elegant!!  This piece was recycled from an old 2X4 that I salvaged when I replaced the roof on my little 1914 built shack.  The grain is straight as an arrow and tight as a ducks back end; it really is remarkable wood!

This spoon is warm and lovely and although pretty basic and simple, it is tres romantic!  

I've got a good supply of ready made spoons on hand and there is still time (though limited) to commission a custom design.

Even if you can't be Welsh this Valentine's Day, you can still be romantic and inspired!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A new year of new adventures

Bookmark and ShareOne of my lovespoon carving buddies dropped me a note on Facebook yesterday asking to see a picture of anything interesting I might have on the work-bench at the moment.
So, I grabbed the trusty Fuji and snapped off a quick shot.   As it turns out, what's on there IS pretty interesting!!
Alas, the most noticable spoon is the broken panel spoon at the bottom of the frame.  This is a traditional Welsh style panel spoon carved from a spectacular piece of tiger-stripe maple. (Also known as 'fiddle-back' maple, it is most commonly seen on violin bodies-hence the name)  It's gorgeous wood, but the neck section is pretty weak because of the wood's interlocking grain structure.  Combine that with a plunge off the wall to a pretty hard floor below and you have a recipe for disaster.  Let's hope that my old friend Crazy Glue can come through for me and we can get this little beauty back up on display!!
There's lots of other cool stuff going on today too.  There's a couple of Celtic style spoons on the go: a lovely knotwork spoon with a stylized heart bowl, a swallow clinging to a flower that I did once before and which appears in my book, "The Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons", and a more simple panel spoon with a sweet little knot at it's crown.   I've got a couple of Breton style spoons underway as well. One is a simple straight handled spoon from black walnut and the other will be an articulating (folding) wedding spoon from pacific yew wood.   There's also a length of chain I have just carved for a Norwegian style wedding spoon and in the top left corner is an actual antique Norwegian wedding spoon dating from about 1890 or so.  Tucked away on the right hand side is a lovely little panel spoon which has been chip carved in the Tirolean style (using a pattern from the mid 1800's).  It's going to be a marvelous little spoon and I am already a little bit in love with it as it is carved from Austrian Zirbe and when I sand it, the shop smells like an Austrian Alpine workshop!  A free trip to Europe without even leaving the studio!!
There's a couple of other spoons in the frame in various stages of incompleteness, but that all should be enough to keep me busy for a little while!!  Especially since I should really be at the drafting table drawing up some sketches for my clients!!!