Tag Archives: green wood carving

Ladles

I’ve finished three new ladles from cherry wood as a request. The curve of the wood occurred near the flared base of the tree, and I was able to split several blanks for spoons, each with a slightly different angle to the curve. As the tree had already been cut into short lengths by a city work crew, they seemed a bit short as ladles. I solved this by adding a decorative end of teak that makes a nice contrast in colour. The joint was both pegged and glued, and the finished pieces given a coat of bee’s wax, carnauba and mineral oil.dsc09939dsc09934

Spoons of 2015

This year my spoon carving improved, as did my level of production. I have  switched over to using a knife finish entirely, which has been great in lowering the amount of sawdust in my house and given the finished product a much more interesting look.

Spoons 2015 2

I was lucky in obtaining a large supply of cherry wood from two trees that were cut down in a local park. I’ve got to the point now that I can complete a spoon in a single sitting, although it’s often necessary to do a few refinements after the wood is completely dry in a couple of weeks. They are finished with a mixture of bees wax, mineral oil, and a smaller amount of carnauba wax for hardness.

Short Film Competition

The Storyhive Short Film Competition is in its final week. Thirty winners are given 10,000 dollars to complete their films. Please support my project “Mr Fire-man Builds a Horn Orchestra out of Wood.” You can vote once a day for the next week at: http://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/907

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Synopsis: David Gowman, aka Mr Fire-man, is the creator of “The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra.” Equal parts arborist, musician, craftsman, and agent-provocateur, his songs mirthfully take the piss out of consumerism, conformity and religion with hits like Aliens, Too Much Pie, and Zombies, played in clubs, festivals and community gardens of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He sustainably harvests a local Paulownia tree and other renewable crops to build his eccentric instruments. With his artwork, concerts and workshops, he activates both friends and community in ways that are thoughtful, provocative, and life-affirming. This is a story of one man who has turned away from mass-culture and consumption, and has built his own life in a sustainable way, enriching the local environment around him.

Carving Tools

As my interest in carving has grown, so has my understanding of the tools required. Different tools are needed for the various stages in carving, starting with saws for obtaining wood from fallen trees, wedges and froe for splitting it into workable sections, and finally, axes, gouges and knives for shaping the individual piece.

I’ve been borrowing some of the more specialized tools from David on our carving nights, and have also been assembling a set of my own. I had a stroke of luck recently in finding a carving hand axe at a local flea market for 15 dollars. With some concerted effort, I was able to resharpen the damaged edge and give it a new handle. It is on the heavy side, but having a single beveled, right handed blade has made a great difference in the initial shaping of wood before switching to the knife.

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I’ve also bought some Haida designed hook-knife blades from the local Lee Valley store. They are sold without handles, so I now have them mounted on pieces of maple I had left over from another project. These have proved indispensable in all of the recent carving I’ve been doing. Having the three different profiles has made hollowing out both spoons and bowls much easier. They require some serious sharpening at the beginning, so patience is necessary.

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I also made my own adze with Lorne Grey when we were doing some blacksmithing earlier this year, but have only recently given it a handle made from dogwood. My first attempt failed as I had chosen a branch configuration with too acute an angle, making it almost impossible to swing. That (boxwood) handle was replaced and recycled into a handle for the hook knife I also made with Lorne. The adze in particular has been brilliant in working on a larger sized bowl I’m making from alder.

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Some Things I’ve Made: Part Two

Some things I’ve made: Part Two

I’ve been producing a couple of spoons a week now for several months. Initially, I modelled them after metal spoons I found in my kitchen, but gradually, their style has changed, partly in relation to the tools I’ve been learning to use, partly through looking at the work of other carvers. I’ve also developed a bit of my own aesthetic for these objects of mundane utility – what feels good in the hand and pleases the eye.

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Some recent spoons in yellow cedar, hazel, and alder

 

To speed this process along, I built a shaving horse, based on several designs I saw online. This allows me to use a draw-knife and spoke-shave, tools that make carving much easier. I also completed an adze and hook-knife under Lorne Grey’s excellent tutelage during our forging nights.

Shave horse

Using my shave horse in my shop

 

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adze blade grinding

Lorne helping me to grind my adze blade

 

The search for green carving wood is an ongoing process. I carry a small folding saw with me and watch for trees or branches felled by wind or pruned by neighbours or city workers. There is only so much I can carry on a bicycle, but bungee cords are amazingly helpful in this respect. I’ve brought back pieces of cherry, alder, apple, and hazel. While out at the beach I found a large chunk of yellow cedar, left behind after someone had cut-up a huge log. With help from David Gowman and a rented van, we managed to drag it back to the field-house to be split-up for a number of carving projects.

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My bike as a pack-mule

 

yellow cedar

Discovery of yellow cedar

 

Splitting yellow cedar

Splitting yellow cedar (David Gowman photo)

 

During a recent community event, Amy spotted a large pile of plum-wood, cut and dumped on the sidewalk. As luck would have it, Karen had her car and we were able to squirrel a large quantity of it at the studio. These pieces were large enough for bowl carving, so I began the process of carving two out of a single piece of wood. Both have checked somewhat during the carving phase, but the experience has been a good one. Stay tuned for finished bowls.

Bowl carving

Early bowl carving in plum wood

Strathcona Field-house

Happy Carvers: Alexis Greenwood, me, Mark Trankner, the late, great JD, and Sharon Kallis