From time to time, it’s important to make something that allows you to play with ideas. Meeting up with friends to carve wooden spoons is one of these times for me when, rather than make familiar spoons from my standard designs, I enjoy making something unknown.
It’s a useful practise for many reasons. I like to challenge my skills, which includes the use of the tools but also the accuracy of my eyes in judging balance, shape and design. The process is more like sculpture, cutting carefully and slowly to search for the unfamiliar shape in the wood. It reminds me what it’s like to be a beginner which is invaluable in my main work of teaching spoon carving and other craft courses.
Often these sessions produce nothing more than a useful experience and an underwhelming spoon but sometimes things come together really well as in this serving strainer I carved from some lovely rowan wood. I added the strainer holes with my friend John Mullaney while we were demonstrating at a show together.
The bowl shape was partly influenced by the wood I had but I deliberately wanted to get some double curves into the bowl and I love how it came out. That became the star of the show so I kept the handle fairly simple in shape but decided, since this was turning into a special piece, that I would add some chip carved decoration along it.
Finally, I baked the spoon in the oven to darken the wood and bring out the grain pattern. It gives the wood a sort of instant patina and highlights the chip carving.
I’m happy to say that this spoon now lives in the home of a very good friend of mine but I sort of wish I’d had a little longer to enjoy it and maybe even make a copy. It’s definitely something I’ll revisit, maybe on another sunny play day.