Archives for December 3, 2020

A Spoonfull of …

Ever since I discovered bush crafters on YouTube, of all the many things I have seen people do in their videos, the thing I wanted to try the most [besides friction fire] was to carve a wooden spoon.

This desire has lain dormant for quite a few years now. Right up until the other day when some obscure algorithm threw this onto my Instagram feed:

It was carved by Maryanne McGinn.

It’s hard to describe what went through my psyche when I saw this object. A vortex of wonder and fear churned around together like those Japanese paintings of tsunamis.

The wonder is easy to understand. That particular spoon pushed all my buttons. The shape, the colors she used, the botanical theme. That is the epitome of the kind of spoon I would like to carve. The fear however was and is still REAL.

I have tried a lot of crafts in my life. And along the way I learned a few things about beginnings. The Rabbis say, “All beginnings are difficult.” And I knew that if I wasn’t careful how I approached this particular craft, I could crash and burn in a spectacular way. And in the process kill off the potential for much joy.

So I decided to approach it very slowly. And carefully.

(Well it DOES involve razor sharp objects after all. You SHOULD be careful!)

After watching some other carvers on YouTube, I realized I needed the proper tools. And rather than starting off with inferior, failure inducing equipment, I would buy the real things.

I proceeded to spend [for me] an eye blinking amount of capital on two good knives, a pair of safety gloves and a thumb guard. This list has since expanded to some basswood which is a ‘soft’ wood for carvers:

I put soft in quotes, because this stuff seems pretty tough to me…

And I just ordered one more knife that is good for ‘roughing out’ the shape of the spoon which requires removing rather large amounts of unwanted wood.

I have also been watching this channel and learning from his beginning woodcarving videos:

So. As soon as my wood arrived I decided that this project would be a good way for me to get used to my tools.

With great difficulty, I managed to saw off some wood from one of the blocks and split it into a rough estimation of a cube, and followed his instructions.

I found out toot sweet that woodcarving, even on this softest of woods requires a lot of hand strength. What seems easy for him is not so easy for me. I had to rest for several minutes every now and then, but I did manage to make the practice project:

Because my ‘cube’ was a bit smaller than his, AND it wasn’t really square, mine turned out pretty wonky:


After about the first three sides of this object, I found myself going into ‘the zone’. A meditative state of flow. It reminded me of knitting. … and weaving. Only this is not a gentle or even quiet activity. My well used and high milage hands protested……. vociferously.

I am still very intimidated by the spoon project. And I’m resisting with all that is within me to actually attempt that particular spoon until I have honed my skills.

I have one more purchase to make.

An exercise ball for my hands. 🙂

I don’t know if I have what it takes to pull this off. But at least I feel like I have begun carefully and well. “Let the chips fall where they may” has taken on new meaning around here.

(Here we go again…..)