A while back I was asked if I would be willing to destruct… uh, I mean, INSTRUCT a class on Spoon carving. Since I have been told on numerous occasions that I ‘have no class’, I am going to, instead, call this a spoon carving ‘collaboration’. A forum of sorts, where anyone that wishes to participate can ask and answer any question, offer or receive any advice and most of all, be a part of the creative process.
Obviously, the goal will be to CARVE A WOODEN SPOON. Simple enough, right? But I really am hoping it will become more than that. One of the most valuable aspects to this LumberJocks site, for me, is the exchange of information, ideas, technique and materials. I have gained so much from YOUR work and from YOUR contributions. I get inspired ideas from seeing your posted projects.
Spoon carving can be as simple or as complicated a project as you wish… or have time for. Basically, a spoon is a bowl with a handle attached. Pretty dang simple, eh? For me, THAT is what makes spoon carving so compelling. It can be functional or non-functional, it can be large or small, simple or complex, rustic or polished, proportionate or disproportionate, one variety of wood or many, only wood or wood combined with other material …..and the decorative possibilities are completely limitless!
Another really great thing about spoon carving is that ANYONE can do it, and with only minimal tools. If you can hold the tool…. You can make a spoon. We will be discussing tools and technique later on, but I am here to tell you right now that the most important tools you can have in your arsenal are pen and paper. And you already know how to use those…. right?
Why the pen and paper? Well, for the obvious reason of sketching out your designs, but if you are willing, we are going to take it a bit farther than that. Think of it like this, if you are going to carve a spoon, why not spend some time exploring and developing the idea. Why not use this opportunity to stretch your imagination and carve a spoon that is uniquely ‘you’, one that is saturated with your personality and style?!
Some people lay no claim to creativity. This one guy I knew growing up in the orphanage had absolutely no encouragement to be creative and really no exposure to anything relating to arts and crafts… at all. When he entered the public high school he took an art class one semester thinking it would be easy credit. By the end of the semester it was painfully obvious that he would win the award for having the least artistic potential of all his classmates. While the other students were making these clever ceramic figurines and sculptures all he could manage was this sad, brown, lumpy ash tray looking thing that a 4 year old would be ashamed of. Some people are born creative and others are not. It could be said, “He didn’t have a creative bone in his body”.
I feel sorry for the guy, don’t you? There was another time where each student had to draw the person across the table from them. No one else in the room could have possibly made that beautiful girl look as ugly as he did. The art teacher made her rounds, nodding approval to each student as she passed while slightly humming a maternal, happy sound (she was pregnant), but when she saw his drawing, she stopped short. I’m not sure what that sound she made really was, but it sounded somewhat like a horrid gasp. And to this very day….. I still can’t draw worth a hoot!
I tell this story in case there is anyone (else) that feels like they were on shore leave when THE Maker was dishing out creative juices. The discovery I made in the years since that embarrassment, is that like anything else, creativity can be cultivated. The most awesome tool for this is…. you guessed it….. pen and paper. And I bet we could list 1,000 creative variations on a spoon without breaking a sweat. Ideas for you to draw from at will and build upon.
So if a perceived lack of creativity isn’t to discourage anyone, what about a lack of ability? Hmmm. That’s a pretty good one to hide behind, or at least it seems. What is true is that we have no idea what our ability is until we actually DO something. Look back at the results of Jordan’s Shoe Carving Challenge. I watched (safely from the sidelines) as some of the participants claimed they had no particular carving talent and then they come off with these AMAZING carvings.
I am going to make this confession: I have NEVER had a spoon turned out the way I wanted…. or planned. Not one spoon, or for that matter, not one project ever. That used to frustrate me, discourage me and literally drive me nuts! Worse, it stopped me from making stuff for a long time.
Eventually, I got around to accepting, which led to this discovery of sorts that I was ‘out of control’, meaning that there was another force at work. Now, the approach is something like, “I wonder what this is going to look like?” And if something doesn’t go the way I wish, it is not my fault because I am just a spectator of sorts. I’m just watching the spoon take shape.
The actual carving of a wood spoon can take very little time. It is fairly small and manageable, the basic shape is simple and you probably have the tools already lying around the shop. If not, Xacto makes a little carving kit that has a handle and a couple of gouges. Once the initial shape is decided on, the blank can be cut out of the wood… and at that point you are almost done. <grin>
So anyway, I double dog dare YOU to join this creative exercise in SPOON CARVING. Not only will you come away with a cool spoon, and it will be COOL, you will gain from the creative collaboration and that can effect everything you make in the future.
The first week or two will be devoted to the creative process (gathering and sharing ideas, planning and designing), selecting and acquiring materials, discussing the tools necessary and basically just setting the stage.
When everyone is ready to begin actually cutting and carving, step by step instructions will be given for those that might be new to carving… or to woodworking in general. The main thing I would like to emphasize is… do not hesitate to ask any question, regardless of how basic. If I don’t know the answer… I’ll ask Jordan. Ha!
I imagine the actual carving process to only take a couple of weeks, even with most of us only able to snatch an hour or two evenings and weekends. The LumberJock’s decorum requires a “confirmed finish date” and I was told that that each participant that completes their project by that date (which shall be determined) will receive a special LJ Certificate. That being said, you are encouraged to take as long as you like on your project, and I will offer up any assistance I can beyond any ‘official’ date.
So for any of you that ‘ain’t chickin’, put ‘SPOON’ in the back of your head and open yourself to the ideas that are getting ready to pour in. It doesn’t matter whether it’s functional or dysfunctional…. as long as it is fun.
CAVEAT: (….there will be homework)
-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)