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.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Turning Practice

I recently wrote guest blog entry and made a video for Highland Woodworkings blog and I wanted to make sure that I posted the link. You can click here to view the post and video.
I've finally figure out my new editing software and should have more videos coming soon!

And for all our old friends, here is the Chairnotes covergirl last week on our brief vacation to the Fingerlakes in upstate New York. We were visiting a local goat farm when we came across this pooch who happened to be the spitting image of our beloved Daisy dog. Someone once described heaven as seeing all the dogs you've ever loved running up to greet you. I think the look on her face says it all.