Friday, July 11, 2014

The Greenwood Spooncarver's Collective

    You can look at it like a musician having a collaborative side project. Mike Loeffler and I have started such a side project and we call it The Greenwood Spooncarver's Collective. The idea has been brewing for some time.

-How can nice, well designed hand carved wooden spoons become more common place?
-How can we stimulate the market for hand carved spoons and educate retailers as well as consumers?
-How can we encourage young folks into this type of work (spoon carving and greenwood working) on a professional or semi professional level?
-How can makers participate in developing these ideas in the broader markets and culture?

These are just some of the questions that can be answered as this collective develops. The idea is for spooncarver's to agree to carve the same design spoons in order to create a large inventory. We'll use this inventory to supply larger retailers like food coops, high end kitchen stores and the like. By working with more production style spoon designs we can still create great spoons that will be a step up from the cheap imported spoons you see around. Affordable but made with great skill.  We've developed a few designs that can be made quickly so we can keep the price down. These spoon designs are meant to fit for folks who want something different, something better than those "fair trade" goods or the cheap factory machine made spoons. Call it a spoon that is an intro into the fine wooden spoon world. 

We inviting any spooncarver who is interested in joining this collective to step forward. We are looking for folks who can carve the models we have developed. We'll send templates and examples of the spoons. There's more details relating to price per spoon and how the payment works but that's for email or a phone call.

There is much more to this, a website that has our one off spoons as makers, tools for sale, and a spooncarving network. These are being developed behind the scenes, stay tuned.

Send an email for more details to

the first three completed templates
finished spoons and spreaders with templates

the pile is building

Sunday, July 6, 2014

June-part three-A New Bark Canoe born

       Here are the last photos of the canoe build. Looking back through the photos and reflecting on my energy level the last few weeks. I really think I have been pretty tired from the intense build. We build this canoe from start to finish in a little over a week, from gathering all the materials to their preparation to the finial launch. No wonder why I have not been that productive making things. That was intense!
     After looking at my 4 bark canoes, I've decided I have to try harder at selling 2 of them. So look for a post on these later this month. I'll tell some stories about these boats too. If any of you know of anyone interested send them my way please.

     Today is the first day I've felt like getting going on production. April and I have been teaching a bunch and I can't do both. This week I'll be doing one of my last big spoon carving workshops then on to production of bowls and spoons. After Robin's visit I've decided to build a better lathe that will stay put and stay set up. I also reforged all my hook tools after learning a few things from Robin. This is SUPER exciting stuff for me. Today I build the lathe and turned a little bowl to get the kinks worked out. I'll be sourcing some wood this week and turning. I can't wait.
      Oh yeah I've also been on antibiotics for Lyme's disease. I'm at the end of the run of medication and feel pretty good. I'm drinking a lot of plain kefir to get my biome back on track. You gotta feel good after kefir, right?

    I have a few thought provoking things to write about but heavy stuff will have to wait.

Here's the photos-

Robin hewing the thwarts

canoe ready for ribs
Tom lashing in the thwarts

Cedar shavings
making ribs

bending ribs

bending ribs

ribs in-first fit

adding some pressure
ribs in

ribs in with sheathing.

Canoe ready for some hot water

First launch

trims pretty good

Robin and JoJo having a blast

JoJo carving spoons

lashing the ends

pitching the ends

finishing up the caps

end complete

the vibe

finished canoe-second launch
finished canoe

new lathe under way

ready to go but needs a tool rack

with tool rack

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June- part two

     Things are good here on the first day of July. We've been having cooler temperatures which keeps the mosquitoes slow and hid away. Today it's raining and cool. It feels good.
     I'm settling up the details to visit Sweden again this year. I've been invited to teach at a museum in Sörmlands, which is south of Stockholm. They are hosting a Skedfest or Spoonfest this August. I'll be teaching a few classes and doing a few talks as well. So I've been looking online at train tickets and figuring out how to navigate the trip. It looks like I'll be able to see a few rural museums. One museum in particular is in Borås. This museum has lot's of turned bowls, boxes and other interesting wooden object. I'll be bringing my camera to do documentation and research. I have a few other rural museums on my list as well as the museum that is hosting Skedfest. Really good stuff. Well at least for me a wood geek. There is much to plan for while I'm there and things are still in the works. The really cool thing about Sweden is that there is a network of craft consultants through the National Swedish Handcraft Council These folks are there to help folks in the craft world. I've met a few folks that work as consultants when I went over last year. They are helping me with some of the details. For this I am very grateful. I'll add more on this as time goes on.
     I'm also taking the family on a trip down to Vesterheim in Decorah Iowa in July to look at their collection of ale bowls and spoons. They have a few hundred of each as well as other countless wooden items. I'll be adding something here on that trip too.
    Now back to the canoe build. We left off with root peeling and Robin's turning class. Here are some more photos from the following week or so.

getting cedar in the swamp
carrying it out
this will make ribs and sheathing

Robin splitting some cedar
canoe staked out and ready for lashing

carving the gunwales
older boats in the fleet (one's for sale)

Robin working on gunwale
Spoon Gathering in Milan MN
Mike Loeffler's sweeeeet bird bowls

Tom D sewing some bark
Splitting the stem for bending

Tom D's work station. He made all the ribs for the boat
another shot of the canoe
A lot of shaving. These smell wonderful too

filled ale bowls at the end of the day

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June-part one

    As I mentioned in the last post June has been a whirl wind. It's still spinning. It looks like the summer time warp is up to full power and speed. It's hard to believe it will be July very soon.
    The first thing I have to say it that the mosquitoes this year SUCK! literally and figuratively. They are horrible. If you stand outside for a few minutes there will be 50 to 100 buzzing away ready to do what they do. It's a bit unnerving. Smoke from fires help. I use an old coffee can with a small smudge fire going when I'm out working. I love the wild lands I live in but this year has been hard. It seems to be the topic of many conversations here.
    Robin Wood and Jojo were here for a few weeks. We did all kinds of things mentioned before, but what I'll remember most will be the laughs and sharing meals together and the quite times shaving cedar down for canoe parts. We had great discussions on spoon design, craft, art, etc...all those things you'd expect. Good stuff. I'll post a few pictures of some of the process and the events attended, folks and friends both new and old over the next few posts.
    I've also attended North House's Wooden Boat show this past weekend and another workshop on pole lathe hook tool making this next weekend. We also have a bunch of workshops lined up over the next few weeks; basketry and spoon carving. Busy busy....
Here are some photos from the build and Robin's turning class at North House.

peeling root

boiling root

smudge pot for mosquitoes

Robin trying our the birch here before the class

At North House, discussing turning

great old ash basket a friend gave me while I was there

focused crowd

Robin also discusses hook tools
Then there's this guy. It was great to finally meet Peter F.