Wednesday, 31 December 2014

One that got away....

I'd meant to include this spoon in my last post but forgot.

It's nothing special - a birch serving spoon - but there is something about it I love.

As you can see, it's not carved from regular green birch, which is generally quite blonde wood, but from a piece of spalted birch. Spalting is an effect caused, usually in dead wood (though not always) by the colonization of fungi which causes irregular colour changes and patternation of the timber. It can cause weakness in the wood but, as you can see from the zoning lines and colours of the spoon, it's worth making the effort with in order to get something a little different.

This spoon was particularly hard to carve as in places it was a bit punky and brittle - the thing I can best compare it to are those white firelighter blocks that snap and crumble.

What I love most about the spoon is how parts of it - the bits that are a toffee kind of colour - go completely translucent when held up to light - it's as if the wood has begun to turn to amber.

You can see the translucence a little on the bowl and handle - you can get the same effect by carving the spoon thinly, but this is actually quite a chunky spoon, but still quite see-through.

Some Christmas carving...

It's been a really busy school term and I haven't really had too much time for carving, so I was glad when we broke up for Christmas and I was able to dabble a little. I have to admit, I'm a little bit rusty, so it was particularly good to remind myself just how much I enjoy carving.

I came home one day to discover a friend from my last school had dropped round a bag with some sections of yew in - not a wood I get much opportunity to carve. There was one piece that was a natural spoon crook and so I thought it might make a nice gift to say thanks for the wood.

It was enjoyable to carve, not too hard or fibrous, and I just love the stark contrast between the dark heartwood and the light sap wood. I don't generally sand my spoons but I couldn't resist with this one and the dark grain came up like a horse chestnut.

The pattern on the handle is in two parts - the darker lines are carved (a thin sliver of wood removed) whilst the lighter lines are kolrossed or scored.
I just love that rich grain pattern.
I also had a nice natural crook in young ash so thought I'd make a cooking spoon that followed the grain of the wood. From the front it looks like a fairly regular spoon.

I've mentioned many times before how I prefer the aesthetics of a cranked, or curved, spoon.....

 ....but this one went a little too far, I think. It works a bit more like a shovel than a spoon - good for a croupier maybe?

On Monday two of my brothers, Ju and Eden, came over and we did some carving together. It was frosty outside, the wood pile was crusted with ice....

...and I had to defrost my chopping block with a kettle of boiling water as I was afraid the ice would chip the edge of my axe.

I'm not going to say too much about our day as Ju took photos so I'm expecting he will post. Ju brought a huge block of willow with him - He'd intended to turn a bowl from it but noticed a knot so thought it would be better billeted for spoons. We split it and there were knots and swirls all through the grain, so not really ideal at all. One piece, however, seemed to lend itself to carving into a spoon, so I thought i'd give it a go.

I probably shouldn't have risked it, with all the knots and crazy grain.

The crank of the bowl follows the grain of the wood.

A crazy knot in the middle of the bowl, but with a razor sharp knife and some very careful carving and it all turned out ok.