Thursday, 2 March 2017

Spoon carving with the Green Woodsmith

Some time back we did a day-long spoon-carving workshop in Kyneton.  Unfortunately we never managed to quite finish those spoons. Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) is quite hard even when green. We wrapped the partly-carved spoons in foodwrap and put them in the freezer but the plastic has ripped. The spoons have now dried out and are even harder to carve.

Not being too familiar using an axe, I found my first foray into spoon carving to be rather slow going and my arm got a bit tired from using the axe.  Which kinda explains why I didn't finish my spoon in the workshop.  I still had a hankering for more instruction on the subject so as a Christmas gift, Mr PragSust kindly enrolled me in a spoon carving course in January with Paul, the Green Woodsmith

The Green Woodsmith spoon carving courses are run from Paul's property in Buninyong, 15 km from Ballarat. He has a lovely outdoor setting for the course and despite the hot weather, it was a very pleasant spot to work. The inquistive alpacas were a lovely bonus - I mean where else can you get the chance to get a kiss on the head from a gorgeous alpaca!!

The shaded outdoor classroom

The axes Paul uses in his class are a variety of specific carving axes. They were lightweight which made them fairly easy to use, even for those of us who aren't too familiar with using axes.  Paul encouraged us to try out the different axes to find the one we liked best.  

We used willow for our spoons and this soft wood proved easier to carve for a newbie than harder woods such as blackwood.  Paul gave us some instruction on the types of axes and how to use them safely, and the steps involved in taking our willow from a lump of wood into a spoon and then we were into it!

Directions showing which way to make the axe cuts

We had a break for a relaxed lunch in the shade. My friend and I had brought along food to share and we also got to taste some of Paul's wife Jenny's preserved caperberries - yum.

Then it was back into it, with instruction on safely using the carving knives to further shape our spoon - the straight knife for shaping the spoon and the hook knife used to carve the bowl.  

Marking out some cutting lines, with friendly alpaca in the background

Getting some instruction from Paul

The next step in shaping the spoon- using the straight knife

Shaping the bowl with the hook knife

Carving the bowl

I didn't quite finish my spoon (I'm definitely a bit of a slow coach!) but by the end of the afternoon I did have something recognisably spoon-like 😌  I have stored it in a ziplock bag in my freezer and plan to see if I can find the time to finish it sometime soon. Paul said it should be okay stored in this way for around 6 months so I have a bit of time up my sleeve.

If you're interested in having a go at making a spoon using only an axe and some knives, I heartily recommend doing a spoon carving course with Paul the Green Woodsmith. Check out his website for details of upcoming course dates.

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