October 2018

A friend and I did more work building my spoon mule. I’m fortunate to have access to a pretty nice woodshop, but being surrounded by industrial power tools is a reminder of how much I appreciate the calm quiet of hand tools. Between the band saw and table saw, I feel like I’ve used up every brain cell. Sadly, it made me realize how often I am on autopilot in my daily tasks. I love the quiet contemplation and reflection I feel when I am spoon carving, but nothing (at least for me) demands mindfulness more immediately than power tools with sharp blades.

A fantastic new book, Forge & Carve, just arrived in the mail. It’s a beautiful exploration of traditional crafts published by Canopy Press with a forward by Robin Wood and features many craftspeople that I respect and many more fascinating and skilled folks who I wasn’t aware of. After a quick read, I feel deeply inspired by the experiences and thoughts shared by everyone. I also read The Soul of a Tree by George Nakashima last night. I love his work and words.

I finished a big two-hander beedle mallet. One of the things that I love of green woodworking is the opportunity to make your tools from resources that are readily at hand.

I received a beautiful gift in the mail. Greg Nelson sent me a spoon he made from some cherry wood I shared at the Driftless Spoon Gathering in September. I certainly didn’t expect anything in exchange for the wood. The summer storms gave me a treasure trove of wood to carve. A surplus so I felt it was only right to share some of it, but Greg sent this spoon my way, and I’m so grateful for it and the kind letter he included with it. In the short spell I’ve spent carving I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many good people in person and online. Craft teaches humility through the slow acquisition of skill, but so do people. I am humbled to keep company with so many people who inspire and motivate me on this journey of craft and life. Many thanks, Greg!

Later, my friend David and I hit the woodshop to work on my spoon mule. Dawson Moore’s plans are so detailed. If you want a mule, this the way to go. All the parts are now cut, so next week, I’ll glue the head and riser. After, it will be ready to assemble.

I’ve been thinking about the kolrosing class that I took a month or so ago at the American Swedish Institute. It was taught by @rivchicawarrior, and apart from an excellent introduction to the technique, the thing that has been lingering in my thoughts from Liesl’s instruction is being more mindful of taking breaks while practicing our craft. Stretching periodically. Looking off in the distance to give our eyes a break.

It’s always challenging to pull away from the bliss of being lost in the moment of our making craft, but I really appreciated Liesl’s reminder to stop and take a break. Take a rest, so we’re restored to continue.

I read a beautiful essay in Mortise and Tenon magazine’s – Tools for Learning: Woodworking with Young Children by Joshua A. Klein and Michael Updegraff. Something every parent and educator should read! In a world of STEM education, it has never been more apparent that what we really need is sloyd (slöjd ) #education. #teachers, please put down the chalk and cursor, and pick up the chisel! My own little guy has been reluctant with woodworking, and that’s okay because he loves making things on his own terms. Like reading, craft will come whenever he’s ready for it.

I interviewed André Souligny and loved this quote by him:

“My mind is quite empty of “thought” when I’m making a spoon …it’s really a wordless harmony between the brain that controls my hands, the tool, my eyes, sound, the wood changing with every chop/slice. There is direction happening, but not like “I’m going to do this, then this, then this…” I see and do, and there is a little bit of “Ah, I see what this will become now.” There is both an overall idea of what you are making as well as some mystery until you get to a certain point, especially if an unexpected knot turns up, then you must make decisions instead of letting it flow.”

I received an early birthday present from my family. An adze made by Svante Djarv. Simply absolutely completely wonderful!!

I went camping at Frontenac State Park. Well, what I did learn in my impending birthday driven campfire contemplations is that as life grows shorter, I need to create twice as hard. Live and love life even harder!

I received a beautiful thing in the mail. Three spoon carving knives arrived. I bought them a few weeks ago from Ben and Lois Orford. Everything about their package radiated handcraftedness (if that is a word) and thoughtfulness. This is what it’s all about – the commerce of beautifully crafted goods and the connections made between maker and user. I hope that my spoons can do justice to the fantastic blades that Ben made.