I carved a Japanese style birch spoon inspired by a spoon that I bought from Jarrod Dahl. Buy one of his, they’re beautiful!
I carved two applewood spoons made from a winter storm broken branch off a honey crisp tree.
Birch cooker, roasted to a lovely pinkish-red hue.
Wood Week at North House Folk School is less than a month away. I’m sad that I can’t attend this year. Not so much because I’ll miss the rare opportunity to learn from some fantastic teachers, but more so from the missed moments to connect with the folks who attend. Last year, I met so many good people. Some were fellow carvers who I felt like I knew via Instagram. Still, nothing beats a conversation over carving in person. That’s when you can really say you know or are friends with someone. Others that I met there were new names and faces.
Two new people I met were Luke Jepson and his father. I enjoyed my conversations with both. Luke is a talented woodworker, blacksmith, toolmaker, spoon carver (the spoon in the photos is one he carved from elm), and arborist.
Recently, I bought three carving knives from Luke to use with the two I had previously bought from him. They are amazing knives! I believe he might have a few more for sale. If you want a beautiful workhorse of a knife, give him a shout.
Works in progress…
Red oak spoon
Two birch spoons
I’ve had the good fortune to be able to take a couple of classes at the American Swedish Institute recently. I’m in Paul Linden’s spoon carving class. I really enjoy the format where we meet once a week for 10 weeks. It allows me to put what we’re taught into practice. Also, Paul, along with the help of Josh Torkelson and Liesl Chapman, has taught me some helpful new ways to approach carving.
At the end of the month, I took a three-day shaving horse class at ASI with Rose Holdorf and Josh. I’ve been wanting a shaving horse for awhile. I love the spoon mule I built last year, but get frustrated at times by the limitations of the mule jaws. I bought plans to make a shaving horse, but they were just collecting dust, so I jumped at the opportunity to take this class. At the end of the course, I left with a shaving horse. It wasn’t an easy project, but Rose and Josh were well organized, prepared, and infinitely patient in their teaching.
I love books and all they offer, but it’s hard to beat a class with a great teacher. There are so many basic things in woodworking that I don’t know, so I find it very helpful to watch someone or ask a question until something clicks, and I finally understand it. Also, my classmates were a great crew. They reminded me of the community building that can happen during classes like this too.
Speaking of books, here’s what I read this month:
Spon by Barn the Spoon
Woodland Year by Ben Law
The Woodland Way by Ben Law
Roundwood Timber Framing by Ben Law
I really enjoy Ben’s many books about green woodworking, timber framing, permaculture, and living off the land. You can also find a short documentary on YouTube about how he built his roundwood timber-framed house. Inspiring stuff!
In early January, I had the good fortune to find a beautiful book – Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year. It was an expensive book, but as I read its introduction by Kate Wilson from Nosy Crow, it was her memory of getting a similar anthology of poetry for her seventh birthday that cinched the deal for me because I was looking for a book for my son’s seventh birthday.
In today’s world, there can never be enough nature poetry read! As greed erodes the world, words are what will preserve it and arouse action to make change a reality. My hope is that poetry is the observation and spell all wrapped up in one.
Every day we read a poem together as a family, but this month I indulged myself and read this book a bit more deeply just for my own pleasure and comfort. When the world turns dark, there is always a book that brings back a bit of the light, and this is one of them. This is the perfect book for those who we most care about – the next generation who will have to weather the shitstorm we made for them!
I’m also reading a beautiful book by Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow – A Man Apart – that honors the life of Bill Coperthwaite. I’m reading it to prepare for an interview that I hope to share, but also for inspiration as I transition to my own version of a handmade life.
Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser
Patience by Akiko Busch. A few quotes from it:
“Nature gives us a sense of measure – though, at the same time, it may be what the writer Sherwood Anderson called ‘a bigness outside of ourselves.'”
“Much continues to happen while we are doing nothing, and there is a reassurance to be found in the industry of small things. Life goes on without us. It was Franz Kafka who said, ‘You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
Play – engaging the imagination- in all forms, can be a way of focusing attention on the present moment. (Perhaps this is why spoon carving is so meaningful to me).
“Patience is always just as active as it is passive and just as passive as it is active.” – Kierkegaard.
Ancient Skies Ancient Trees by Beth Moon
The Way Home by Mark Boyle
A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity by William Coperthwaite.