It was good to hike again, the outside air was cool and crisp as I discovered just how much paper birch draped the edges of the pond that was once frozen. It’s amazing how only a year ago I would not have been able to identify so many of the trees I walked past when hiking. Perhaps I simply took them for granted. My interests although still in woodworking were not nearly as deeply investigated in green timber as they are now.
A great deal of my exercises, projects, or ideas were performed in retail store wood. The hunger to learn more about so many various trees, where they are, what they make best for in the shop, all of this knowledge and learning I credit to making wooden spoons by hand. This process really aids in discovering various timbers and exploring their individual characteristics.
My first time even realizing a wooden spoon could be something to make was viewing “Alone in the Wilderness” when Dick Proenneke needed kitchen supplies and created one out of seasoned spruce. There was something extra impressive to me that with all of the great carpentry displayed throughout the documentary that he was able to completely perform craftsmanship and detailed skill in what seemed to be such a delicate endeavour.
Spoon making is special training, a Zen like concentration wrapped in a deep spirited challenge of the strong arm meeting the very softest touch of skillful care. The hewing and carving is the expression of music only the deep forest owns for it’s personal symphony. The grains are plenty and like instruments all have there parts to play, the ways they separate with a blade and saw with a strike. I take a great pride in realizing this craft is timeless, and spans many generations all over our globe. You might say it is an expression of the earth itself and the spoon maker is the vessel trained over time to display in a creative extension the simple wonders of life through the natural world.
It is very easy to view our world spinning many times ragged over the bruises of sad stories, and yet it regains the elegance of a well tuned machine when we see its sacred blue skies, white clouds, and fields of green. I like to think in the confusing abundance of talking heads, somewhere deep in the woods the crafts person feeds the good back to the giants of timber and leaves. The hatchet has been stropped and dropped gently across the fibers, the job is well in our hands as the ghost of forefathers once masters of the current proceedings of making craft from wood acknowledge our creative cares with a gentle wind as a nod of approval to carry onward.
So on we all return, we always come back wether miles away out in the sticks at our favorite chopping stump or addressing the bench like a monk in a church. The crafts person is an honored and secret success, many of us posses a notch of it’s wisdom all the while the current machine of modern times prevent the artisan from receiving their deserved worth. But we always return to the hammers, nails, saws, and planes because the pride is always of the highest value of self and soul.
The collection of ones I am happy with and still honing.
Every carving a gesture of better days ahead, every shaving the falling wisdom of good things to come. Like any task involving wood crafting spoons is some sort of wonderful piece to a large and unattainable puzzle that makes the world of woodwork keep us fascinated. I hope you stopped by and read this, had a nice moment, and refueled your enthusiasm to defy your own limitations.
Those saws lay out there old and crude
the mighty Sycamore sweeps and swoons
ready your muscle, forward the task
every bustle, grains bladed and slashed
Bloody bound fists of grit and hell
shimmer your handles with blisters that swell
commit your strength to the length of the plank
when the last piece is sawn its the saw you shall thank…..
Never be afraid to color outside of the lines!
Be well, be safe, laugh more and keep a sharp blade!
-- "Make something you love tomorrow...and do it slowly" JLB