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

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Spoon Rack

Brilliant! finally got round to making one of these, my large spoon rack was over flowing with all my spoons and some even had to live in a draw! Those of you that are spoon enthused will have seen antique ones of these and i have seen Wayne Batchelor of the APT with his -which i think had the loop made from hazel in the round.

It works perfectly with my octagonal handled eating spoons. I don't have any whippy bits of hazel at the moment so i made this with cleft hazel, I barely skimmed the bark off the outside of the loop and steam bent it to shape (it wouldn't bend without the heat), this has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience reminds me of steam bending days in the woods for chair making except instead of using an open fire and oil drum i was using a roasting pan on a gas hob. In fact i enjoyed it so much i have just made another 2 in Wych Elm with similar hazel hoop, they each hold 6 hazel eating spoons and one could be yours for £60 spoons and all.

These two racks have sold now, but i'de be interested in doing some more if anyone wants one get in contact.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Bent Branch Spoons

I have just been staying in a nice little wood which was lovely after a few hectic days of birthday celebrations. I am very happy to be in a City for the winter, but i do crave getting back on the road, not least for the solitude, i miss my time alone with trees very much. 

I was staying with friends Olly and Lily who are introducing a seven year hazel coppice rotation to their wood. I am usually interested in the straight hazel for my octagonal eating spoons, and have come back from the woods with enough straight wood for a few hundred spoons, but this time i was also looking for some bent branches, these i wanted particularly for making birdy caddy spoons (more on this another time). Below you can see one of the forks ive brought back with me, i find it easier to split if you leave it as a fork even if like the one just below i will probably only get one spoon out of it (because of the knot).

This fork shows how i've cleft the two spoons out, these spoons have the same style neck and handle as my cooking/serving spoons on the "for sale" page. I like the way they've both come from the same branch, and obviously the grain follows the bowl which makes them more durable and some claim more comfortable to eat with. You can buy this pair of special spoons with my makers mark on each spoon for £45 (this includes postage)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Spoon Club

Don't worry i've not become a communist, well not yet at least...i'm more a "social anarchic individualist" (luckily for you lot i know nothing about politics!).
A few folks have asked if they could have a copy of this, so i thought i would post it here, don't worry about cutting off my blog at the bottom and using it yourself.
It was created by a couple of friends i live with who are self employed artists and available for work.
Spoon on.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Spoon Club

The original Spoon club was held in my static caravan in Herefordshire on a winters day a couple of years ago. Will (who looks like a caveman and has a spaniel that can't keep secrets) was going to come round and we were going to carve spoons. He brought with him a whole bunch of sausages and his puppy. I don't remember much about the day but we went and chopped down a field maple tree with a chainsaw and i had no ear defenders on, I remember thinking this would have been better with a hand saw, anyway we got back carved some spoons ate a whole load of sausages and I had a general feeling of this is brilliant lets do this again.

Spoon Club grew into something that happened every Saturday, everyone knew that I had open house on Saturday and people would come round, the general idea being that it was purely a social event based around carving of spoons, lots of tea and coffee and a pan of sausages. Friends would come round with tools and wood, though ideas were passed around and skills shared passively, there was no formal teaching, no one was "in charge" it was just a gathering of people doing stuff they loved. We would sit around my static caravan which seated 8 or so around the woodburner and carve and chat. I am hugely indebted to those that came to Spoon Club as it helped me through a difficult time. I am particularly grateful to Ben and Lois who were staunch supporters of Spoon Club, and the other regulars Toby, Ali, Pete, Maurice, and obviously Will thanks guys.

It'll come as no surprise, seeing as most of you are crafters, that being sat around as a social group creating folk craft is a truly beautiful thing. It is just something that feels completely right. In my opinion it is one of those things we were created to do, it is a shame it's missing from many peoples lives.

You will probably know about the quilting movement, affectionately known by some as "stitch and bitch" groups, where friends meet in each others houses and sew together. Quilts are beautiful folk craft, like spoons they are something that everyone still needs and use on a daily basis, and who wouldn't rather have a hand made quilt than a lifeless one from a factory? the most beautiful part about quilts is they are a mix of old fabrics where part of a dress/curtain/etc may have worn through a small section of the good stuff is saved and these are sewn together in a mosiac, so not only is the quilt beautiful in it's own right but the owner may recognise the fabrics which gives the Aesthetic a depth that can't be bought.

I hope you will forgive me but I always promised myself I would take things a bit more seriously when I reached thirty and that has happened today! (11/11/11) I'm on a mission to get a hand carved wooden spoon into every household in the country, and i hope you will join this mission. If i could carve all of them myself i would but although i would love to be a Spoonillionaire i don't think this is possible. If each town had a spoon club going then we certainly would be able to do it. I want people to have that same empowered feeling i get when i create beautiful practical utensils using simple tools, the tools we have been using for thousands of years but seem to have turned our back on in the last century.

It won't seem strange for me to suggest that times are changing, the whole cultural environment we live and work in has shifted as much in the last ten years as any other decade in our history. As we move into the future big organisations will become larger like they always do with more levels of complexity. I am not against this, but i am certainly for the indiviual, far from cowering under the shadow of corporations we should flourish under their canopy, and it looks like we are! I think we are entering a new age of Folk Craft and Artisan Craftsmanship, it is my hope we embrace this, and my personal wish that Wood carved with axes and knives is part of that movement.

Like the last couple of years i will be travelling around carving spoons from around April , i would dearly love to visit some "Spoon Clubs" along the way, if you would like any advice on how to set up a spoon club please get in contact. I will also be getting spoon club up and running in Bristol, so this is an open invitation to any other spooners out there to come along.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Sanded Spoon!!

Well all of my original spoons 12 years ago were sanded and i was really pleased with them at the time, when i see them at my parents house i also quite like the naive Aesthetic they have. I have wondered if you can make an item functional what is the point in chasing down different designs and trying to perfect them? i think the answer is some of us are just chasers and i think beautiful spoons are a good a thing to chase as anything else. Anyway this spoon is interesting for a couple of reasons, firstly it has been made from a bent branch you may be able to notice the elongated rings in the bowl, if the bend in the branch perfectly follows the curve of the bowl then you get straight grain and no rings at all, in my experience it's rare to find a perfect match, and when you force it it definitely looks forced to me (i don't think that this is a bad thing). But i think it is not neccessary, certainly using a bend even like i have above will greatly increase the strength of the spoon not least because of the ripple in the grain that interlocks and also looks pretty.

So i've cocked up and left my old spoon knife in London, and all i have now are my new (lovely) Spoon Knives, i am still very excited about these, and i'm looking forward to exploring the shapes of bowls they will  make, i am finding that i can finish the bowl of a spoon in about half the time it was taking before with a lovely uniform finish. 

So you may ask why i have sanded the inside of this spoon. Well because the spoon knife is symmetrical it has quite a limited size bowl it can make. When you carve with the grain (which i find faster) you need to maintain enough shallowness to the bowl so that you can tidy up the middle across the grain. I'll forgive myself because this type of knife is very new to me (if you know anyone that uses one like it please get in contact), but i was left with a few fine hairs in the bottom of the bowl and had run out of space to change it. Having recently picked up some old stuff from storage i found some micro mesh that i used to polish my wooden jewelry with, this starts with 1500 grit and secveral grades up to 12000, i did it all in just over 5 minutes, under a warm running tap (hot water from a tap is a luxury i adore), the water lubricates the very fine abrasive as well as keeping the grain from flattening, i let it dry and gave it a quick rub with the 12000 again. As i hope you can see from the photo it leaves a very smooth finish which you can see you can actually see your face in. I used this spoon to eat with last night, and was nervous that i would prefer it to the carved finish i leave on my spoons. Luckily i did not like it at all, and shall not be sanding any more spoons. Disappointingly all my housemates liked it because they think it looked nicer, don't know what to do about that : (

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Massive Crisis of Faith

 The other day i was having a very pleasant trip to my parents, they were watching Antiques Roadshow. On the show there was porcelain vase that was astonishingly beautiful turns out that due to some tax thing in the olden days for a short period of time porcelain or whatever was taxed very heavily probably to pay for some war, so these vases were actually made by glass blowers they weren't porcelain but white glass. They were so nice that for almost a whole minute i was determined to become a glass blower, i was ready to give up everything and retrain. Don't panic, i got over it! but i feel there is much to learn about Aesthetics from studying other materials.

The vase had a beautiful organic shape to it, there were slightly spiralling "ribs" around the outside that had the glass stretched between them it looked similar to a seed pod. After being told it was glass you could tell from the rim that it was, i don't know about glass but it was probably snapped off the stock material to make the opening to the top of the vase, and then melted a bit to remove sharp edges.

Anyway this reminded me of some of the stuff Fritiof had for show when he came over, Rob has some nice photos on his blog. The stuff of his i really loved were the birds. My point being that i loved these items because the wood almost seemed stretched, it gave a ligtness to the objects, you can use the bellly of the knife for the slight hollows. I feel like the Aesthetics of the two designs i'm working on at the moment are like forging metal the material feels like it has been hammered out this is shown by  distribution of material.

Tips for Spooners
The profile of the inside of the bowl does not need to be parallel to the outside, in fact it can have quite a different profile, and i often prefer them that way.
Try flexing the spoon along it's length i like it when they don't flex more in one spot than another.
Think about shapes as dynamic when you shape a curve where does it start? where does it go? does the tightness of the curve accelerate or deccelerate.
Triangulation! all the cool knife grips are about triangulation, it generates absolute control.

Below are some photos of the spoon i made when Fritiof was here, i finished the hollowing this morning with my new hook. I am pleased to have such a large spoon to go with our new 18.5 litre pan, the pan holds about 30 odd portions of food and the new spoon serves one portion in one dollop. The hook is great for stopping the spoon dropping in the pan and for storage, i like the hook position so it doesn't interfere with holding the handle. The shoulders of the bowl are a signiture of Fritiof's spoons and are a great design feature that is easy to achieve.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Spoon Carving Workshops

Friday morning i took the national express to london for one of my monthly workshops, i took this photo of some graffiti on my way down gloucester rd to the coach station. This kind of artwork never fails to impress me, i keep meaning to post some other photos i've taken of my favourite graffiti. I must admit i find legal "graffiti" a bit sickening, and hope this man crept about with a bit of adrenaline flowing through him whilst the noxious fumes from the spray can entered his lungs. The attraction for me is the underlying passion/obsession and focus to manifest a concise image, one that might catch someone's eye like mine (more on this another time).

I run the workshops in the heart of the East End of London right behind Mile End tube station, there is much poverty in this area which is overlooked by Canary Wharf.

Tower Hamlets has a fantastic Park resource it's 30 acres of woodland with wild flower meadow is notorious for it's huge biodiversity, it is amazing to see the trees reclaim the earth from the gravestones of the old Bow Cemetery. I have the run of the Soanes Centre for the weekend, this has kitchen and toilet facilities with a classroom and a covered open air space outside, i also source all my materials (for the course) from the park too.
I was introduced to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park by Paul Wylde who set up Grounded Ecotherapy with Kelvin Barton, they work with a group formed mostly of volunteers who regularly do conservation work in the park. I got involved with these guys after meeting up with Paul in London, Paul is a brilliant and hilarious man and i very much enjoy spending time with him, but i also passionately believe in the work he and his team are trying to do, i have spent quite a lot of time passing on skills from hafting axe heads and spoon carving to fire by friction. This Monday after running my weekend workshops i was to firm up some foundations they have in Pole lathe turning, getting them to cut a pole and set it up to churn out some treen. It's empowering to be able to make the machines you use!
I'm very grateful to the group for always making me so welcome in London, i consider it a privelige to work with such a lovely group of people.
Sorry i've got no photos of the actual  course i'm too busy working! (i promise i will next time) But i'm sure you get the general idea, axes, axe blocks, wood, knives, spoons and lots of wood shavings.