Monday, August 30, 2010

Moment by Moment

I've had a lot of quiet time to myself in the shop lately, which has been a real luxury. Sometimes it can take a while to get to that calm place where fun and creative things can flow. I know that this is even harder for folks who only have a few rushed hours on the weekend to fit in their "relaxation shop time". Sue has seen me in the mad dash to enjoy my free time, we call it gulping.

It's usually a sort of of tragic comedy that ends up with stupid mistakes, poor decision making and a general sense of defeat. It's like I left the window open and all the junk that I'm trying to ignore comes rushing in to wreak havoc.

I've found that these times are best suited to small stuff that can be picked up and put down easily. I think that carving spoons fits the bill perfectly. I know that I've said it before, but spoon carving is one of the great teaching activities as well as being portable, cheap and rewarding, perfect when you don't have the time or inspiration to tackle that highboy you've been meaning to build.

In the past weeks, with no students around and my caliper safely in the hands of the retailers, I've set out to remember what it is that I'm supposed to do after my coffee. So while I'm having my coffee, I've been carving spoons. And sure enough, not only has it helped ease me back into full time shop life, but the lessons learned have found their way into my chairs.

These spoons came from the same hunk of applewood that I harvested a few weeks back. I can only imagine why they have such a marked color difference. The goals and tools in spoon carving are very similar to chairmaking. A fine spoon can be useful, delicate looking, strong and beautiful, all at once.

Generally, I've left the knife cut finish just about everywhere on the spoon, but with this batch, I tried to accentuate the gentle rounding of the handle by smoothing the surface and letting the grain tell the story.
But as you can see, the surfaces of the bowl portion are knife faceted. As I worked on them and lived with them, I've come to really like the transition and juxtaposition.

Beside working on a new rod back armchair, I've been designing and building a fan back that I'll be teaching next year at Kelly Mehlers in Berea. I've always wanted to make a fan back with a crest like this, and I figured this would be the opportunity.

As I was shaping it and thinking of the surface finish, the lessons from the spoons came to mind and I decided to have the shape be smooth and fluid on the front of the "ears" and faceted on the back. I'm pleased with the results.

Like most folks, I try to make the most of my time in the shop, but sometimes there's more to it than that. The shop isn't just a place to get away, but a space to work out all influences of the world that we bring with us, and sometimes all we can manage is a foot in the door, or maybe just a spoon, and that's more than enough.


Unknown said...

Wonderful spoons. Nice thin bowls and signs of the maker's hand. I love the idea of using spoon carving to get in the mood. Yet spoon carving can be explored endlessly. Show more!

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Will, believe me, there are many times that I think I could be happy just making spoons. I love the simple tools and walking through the woods with my eyes tuned for good spoon wood. I also like designing while carving and finding ways to make the shapes relate, it's woodworking at it's best!

jack said...

Great to have something to read again,I thought you may have lost interest in writting on the blog.Great spoons thanks for your great inspirational articles
Paul Testoni

Peter Galbert said...

no I haven't lost interest at all, I've just found that summer always keeps me busy into the evenings when I'd usually write a post. If you asked me what a perfect work day was, I'd say horsing around in the shop all day and then posting about it. Writing always puts a nice end to the day. I'll try to keep it up!
thanks for commenting,

Anonymous said...

Pete ,just a reminder about the book you and I think Curtis was working on.
Think you will start on it soon.I can't wait.P.S. The crew is here now working on a much need addition to my little shop.You inspired me last year.A lot of little details and I built my first window jam. Your south Atlanta fan, Kerry

Dave Abeel said...

Peter, I like the sculpture, but please, nothing on the top edge of the comb that comes to a point.

Peter Galbert said...

we are still working on the book, but it goes slowly during the summer when Curtis is lettuce obsessed and I'm playing with my kids! Hopefully the progress this winter will push it over the top,

good thinking, now that I look at it, it does seem a bit hostile! I'll be rounding it down in the future.

Polo Chairs said...
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