A Commissioned Lovespoon Part 04
By: Bob Tinsley
Posted in: Lovespoons
Today was a light carving day. That off-side thumb was demanding a day off, but what I did today didn't put much of a strain on it. It kept its complaints to a dull roar. The first photo shows the transition from the medallion to the ridged stem on the back.
I did this a day or two ago, but never posted a photo of it. I spent today working on the back of the bowl. I'll often spend as much time working on the bowl as I spend carving the entire rest of the spoon. To me, the bowl is the most important part of the spoon. Without a bowl a spoon is just a stick. I've been smoothing and shaping the bowl with the knives shown.
The two on the left were made by Ralph Long, and the one on the right was made by Allen Goodman. I normally rough out the outside of the bowl with my Regular Sloyd from Del Stubbs. I like the longer blades for bowl work because they allow longer slices and I can control the transition from one curve to another better. Shorter blades leave me with a choppy feel. Once the rough-out is done I change to a much thinner blade, though still long.
I lay the blade almost flat on the wood and use it like a plane or spokeshave. Using this technique I can get a surface that on anything other than a lovespoon would be considered finished.
It only requires a couple of minutes work with sandpaper to get it baby-butt smooth. Any technique that lets me minimize the use of The Devil's Paper is worth the time it takes.
I use the short bladed knife to do the short-radius, scooping cuts at the transition from the stem to the bowl. Now that I've removed more wood and smoothed out the surface the figure of the wood is becoming more apparent even in my poor photographs.
This variation in color is what I love about poplar. You can get all shades of brown, greens, yellows and even purple. It's a terriffic looking wood and easy to carve.
I do all my carving with hand tools, 99% of which are knives. I do it this way for two reasons: 1) I try to emulate the traditional way of working. The young men of rural Wales (or Scandanavia) who began this tradition didn't have elaborate shops with lots of tools. They worked from the heart with what they had. That's the feeling I want to put in my spoons. 2) I hate power tools! They are noisy, dirty and dangerous. The only concession I make to modern tools is the use of a battery-powered hand drill to start the piercings on my spoon, and the only reason I do that is that it allows me to hold the piece in my hand while I'm drilling. A hand drill requires the use of two hands, and since my wife and I live on a 28-foot sailboat we don't have the room for a bench I can clamp the piece to while I drill.
I'm still trying to figure out the stem-bowl transition. I cut a little and stare a little. Cut a little more and stare a little more. It's time to do a lot more staring and thinking.