To get hold of my Spoons please visit my Shop at 260 Hackney Rd London.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

new file handle

I'm in bristol at the moment, trying out a smart phone before i buy one myself, i think it's working well and will be a good investment. it would mean that i could keep my blog up to date and maybe offer spoons for sale online, the tariff would also probably be less money than i normally spend on OS maps when i'm out and about. I made this ash handle for a file this morning, i've made it to the spec that Chap (short for Chapter 12 one of my new young friends) wanted, he does up a load of old bikes and cars, and this file is usually used for enlarging holes. He's got a load that he needs handles for but it would be so much quicker to do it on a lathe, i'll do the others in london on my pole lathe.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Probably The Greatest Eating Spoon Ever Made (in my opinion)

I've made hundreds and hundreds of these buggers and i still absolutely adore them, essentially it is a teardrop shaped bowl with an octagonal handle attached to it, but there are oh so many different 3D realisations of those little pathetic words. I have tried many different ways of making them but the ones above are all of the same kind, (though within each "species" there is still variation and character). The one on the hanky (that's my shop by the way) lacks character. To my mind it's a bit straight laced, smug isn't the right word but it thinks it's prettier than it is. It's neck is a bit fat, the bowl is a bit dumpy. I also prefer them with a bit of movement in the handle and the last third of the handle tapering at an accelerated rate. I am of course being critical and i do love it and will make sure it goes to a good home.

When i was at Living Wood  we used to get out of the woods every now and again to use the internet, i would always check Robin Woods  blog  (his work has been a massive inspiration through my life) and i became transfixed by what he called the Lubeck Spoon, i have been obsessed with these octagonal handled spoons ever since.

Back when i first started making octagonal handled spoons the curved top to the bowl of a spoon was a contentious issue (This may not be memorable for Mike But it confused me for a while), Mike has some lovely swedish style serving spoons and an eating spoon Made by Martin Kimblewhite. They are all made from bent branches and because of this have a curved rim, i.e. if the bowl was full of water it would fall out the sides. For this reason Mike used to say that they should have flat tops which i agree makes more sense for something like a ladle. Except they are more beautiful if they have the curved rim. and i do wonder whether a ladle would pour better, i have made most of my ladles with very slightly curved rims. On a serving spoon the curve can be really pronounced and be very functional as a shovel as you slide the spoon in the food stacks up at the handle end of the bowl then to deposit it you twist your hand and it all drops out the open side. But most importantly for eating spoons it means that your top lip can reach the bottom of the bowl without excessive rim rubbing.

I have started to realise i'm going on a bit and this is getting boring, there is so much more to say about all these little things but i'll add them to further posts and maybe edit this so it doesn't get so boring.

I've seen quite a lot of photos of medieval spoons from internet/Robin Wood/Terence Mcsweeney i've not actually seen any that taper towards the end of the handle so i wonder whether that is something Robin came up with.

The way the rim cuts into the handle is very important to me, i first started doing this after seeing beautiful silver spoons at the Ashmolean where i spent an absolutely glorious 2 weeks of my life last summer, quite literally living the dream. Incidentally i've got a feeling that metal spoons have had a massive influence on wooden spoon design particularly eating spoons. The cut in i use on the rim is used in a huge array of different spoon designs by me and others and is much more sensible than a smooth curve.

I love the octagon, it is enough sides so that the edges don't fur up, if you've made a spoon try washing it with a plastic scourer, if the edges are left square they fur up so they need to have a wire edge taken off them which takes time and is fiddly therefore if in the design you can reduce the number of edges you need to do that to you save time. I also find this handle the most comfortable to hold. the swedish style may look more comfortable and "ergonomic" but in my experience octagonal for eating spoon is best (maybe different for ladles) mainly because it rotates so easily, you may disagree but i don't care and we can all agree that a wooden spoon feels nicer than a metal one.

facets facets facets, well this is what it's all about for me. i'm in the business of making something 3D (spoons) with an edge which is effectively 2D (knife) i move the knife through space and wood and a whole world of stuff goes on, i'm hooked and i can't stop and i'm not bothered. apart from function and other aesthetics i am aiming to reduce the information in the spoon, simple and few lines created with flat planes, if i was a painter i would aim for bold brush strokes not photo realism, more on this madness another time.

It could be argued that the best eating spoons are made from bent branches, the wood can feel smoother on your lips and can be thinner which can also feel nicer in your mouth.  As you can see all the spoons here are made from straight bits of wood. The spoon above that has been cut in half has a reasonable thickness to it because of the short grain i do this for strength.

i tend to chamfer the end of the handle and this can be done several ways, i sometimes think it's a bit fussy but at the moment the facets created alternate triangle- square- triangle-square and so on around the end of the handle.

3D Spoon shapes

I want to do a few posts about my spoons which i haven't done for a while, intentionally i am not talking about the function, aesthetics or the way they have been made but just the actual 3D reality, i will go into more detail about my favourite spoons in later posts. Most of these spoons are unfinished (the darker ones have been oiled and are finished) i tend not to actually finish the spoons until i'm sat there selling them, this is in part laziness as it is my least favourite part of the job and also they do move a bit (cherry is awful for this) as they dry so it is good to leave them for a bit.

The spoons i carve tend to come in 3 categories those with egg shaped bowls (on left), those with shovel shaped bowls (middle), and those with teardrop bowls (right).

The photo above is also a great example of how many different shapes of handle you can have, these are less easy to categorise and if i did try to i would do this firstly by categorising the "neck" style.

ok so i'm crap at taking photos, now all of these spoons have the same style neck i call that style Wille Sundquist style, anyone into spoon carving has heard of this man and he has written a great book about carving which is now out of print. The spoons that i make like this all have the traditional Swedish style "keel" on top of the neck not beneath this makes carving from the bottom of the bowl up the back of the handle one nice long cut, all these ones have one facet on the neck too .

These spooons on the right are just the ones above viewed from on top.