Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Essex Wildlife Trust Woodland Management Day

Through the volunteering I do for the Essex Wildlife Trust , I ended up being invited along to their Woodland Management Day at Belfair's Woodland Centre. I'd quote forgotten about it until the email reminder I received on Tuesday saying they were looking forward to seeing me on Sunday. 

Last week was a bit of a busy one, as my day job had me traveling around the country quite a bit. It wasn't until Friday evening that I had the time to start preparing stuff for my stall.

Spoons I have lying around

Friday, 3 October 2014

Tool-roll: Mora (Frost) 106 Carving Knife

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Probably the best wood working knife out there at this price. 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

London's Carving Workshops

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I recently held a couple of carving workshops in London. One near Old Street and another in Victoria Park. Both of them were great fun and they kind of surprised me with how eager people were to learn crafts.

Both of the workshops were a part of Keep Britain Tidy's Waste less, Live more Week. The week was themed 'Be Resourceful' with daily challenges. The first challenge was 'Make it' and that was where my workshops came in.

While I spend most of my time making spoons, butter spreaders are a better project to start with as they only need a knife and are less complicated objects to make.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Butter Spreaders

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When I'm not carving things or out in the woods, I'm usually found in an office in London working on Eco-Schools for the charity Keep Britain Tidy. Each year in September Keep Britain Tidy has a Waste Less Live More week. Last year the theme for the week was food and food waste. This year the week is running from 22 - 28 September and the theme is 'Be Resourceful'
To encourage people to be resourceful and to raise awareness that what's good for the environment is good for us, I decided to teach people how to carve wooden butter spreaders, a nice introduction to green woodworking. 


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Just got back from an amazing three days at Skedfest in Sweden. It was a brilliant experience, and hanging out with such an international group of spoon carvers was great. So much happened during the three days that for now I'm going to just put up my photos from the weekend.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Charcoal Marking (part 2)

Last week at the Essex Wildlife Trust's Pound Wood I helped load and light the charcoal kiln. In the evening I went back and switched around the chimneys and vents. On Wednesday morning the kiln was shut down (all the vents blocked off) and it was left to sit for a week.

Charcoal I helped produce, from cutting to cooking.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Hewing Out A Beech Bowl

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I brought home a large beech log from Spoonfest, with the intention of making some bowls from it. So after a particularly hectic week, here's the first of hopefully several bowls this log will provide.

It's a lot of fun working on a bigger project like this. I do however want to make sure I have it ready for drying by the end of the weekend, as I already have about three bowls that have dried before I've got them to where I wanted to get them. They've all been sitting untouched for a while now. Should probably get round to finishing them soon!

Here's what I managed to get done today. Hopefully I can show you the (almost) finished product tomorrow.
Took a while to saw through

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Charcoal Making

While this isn't wood carving, charcoal is a cool sustainable product and making it used to be a really process widespread across the UK. It's a great way to use smaller diameter wood that it can be hard to find uses for. 

I often help out at Pound Wood, an ancient woodland that's managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust as a coppice site. A common product from coppice woodlands is charcoal. Charcoal is wood with the water removed by setting fire to it and then severely limiting the oxygen it receives. The charcoal from Pound Wood is sold locally. A fantastic British product made very sustainably.

Monday, 11 August 2014

A Spot of Decoration

Inspired by the  designs and work of Simon Hill, I decided to do a little more spoon decorating. Here I've drawn out the pattern on the spoon handle.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Rainy weekend

The weather has been rather unpredictable over the weekend. Fortunately I've managed to axe out the spoons before the weather got really bad, before retreating indoors to finish them off. All of the spoons have been carved from purple plum that was a street tree felled due to ill health. I've got a fair amount of it in my wood pile and am really liking the wavy grain and contrast between the heartwood and sapwood.

By splitting the wood radially I can display this contrast nicely. I've also been trying to get the bowls as thin as possible, something I can't really display in the photos. 

Friday, 8 August 2014


A Year of Spooning

Returning for its third year, Spoonfest, an international gathering of 200 spoon carvers in Edale, a scenic village nestled in the stunning Peak District has come to an end

Sunday, 27 July 2014

An adventure into Welsh dolphin spoons

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On Friday I made this spoon from a purple plum branch and shared it in a Facebook spoon carving group. I've mentioned before that the group is a great source of help and inspiration and the following spoon making journey is proof of that. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Wonky Sweet Chestnut Spoon

This came from a naturally bent branch I came across in my local woodland. After splitting out the blank I decided that the handle should follow the flow of the grain.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Decorated Silver Birch Spoon

I don't tend to do much decoration on my spoon handles, but when I found out my friend Simon Hill would be teaching spoon decoration at Spoonfest in a couple of weeks, I thought it best to get some practice in! 

Friday, 18 July 2014

So practice doesn't make perfect?

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that the mastery of a skill requires 10,000 hours of practice. This idea quickly spread, for it seemed logical. The more you do something, the better you become at it. Throw 10 years at something and you'll be at the top of your game.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Waste Less Live More Partner

Waste Less Live More is about rethinking how we live our lives in ways that reduce our environmental impact, whilst improving the health and happiness of ourselves and each other.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Plum Travel Spoons

Here are a couple of short handled eating spoons that have recently emerged from their linseed oil bath. They're loosely based on my rowan travel spoon.

Rowan travel spoon

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Flow of Spoon Carving

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What is 'Flow'?

At its most basic, flow is when we are in a state of optimal performance, completely immersed in the activity we are doing. Studies have found there are six factors that identify a ‘flow’ state:

1.    Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
2.    Merging of action and awareness
3.    A loss of reflective self-consciousness
4.    A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
5.    A distortion of temporal experience
6.    Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience

Friday, 4 July 2014

Everybody Should Carve a Spoon

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Creating handmade, personal objects for everyday use.

We currently live in a throwaway society. The things we buy are designed to fail, the natural world is being priced up and sold off and we are forgetting traditional techniques and knowledge that might help us in the future. These issues, along with many others are having a serious negative impact on our wellbeing and on the health of the planet.

While these are all huge issues we might find difficult to address, there is a process I think we should all try to start tackling these concerns: hand carving a wooden spoon. Doing so increases our wellbeing, reconnects us with nature and teaches us useful skills that are hard to attain in modern life.1

This post aims to look more closely at some of the problems we face and will show how the seemingly simple task of hand carving a spoon actually goes a long way towards providing solutions to those problems.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Beech serving spoon

I've been all about the larger spoons recently. This one is from a very dry crooked piece I got from an ancient beech taken down due to it becoming unstable. One of the thing I love about making objects like spoons from wood is giving purpose and life to material that might have just ended up in the fireplace.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Purple plum wedding spoon

A colleague is attending a friend's wedding and commissioned me to make a serving spoon as her gift to the happy couple. Here's the finished product, carved from locally felled purple plum:

Monday, 26 May 2014

Almost a Dozen

Got down to some serious carving over the weekend. I axed out the spoons on Saturday (and a couple extra on Sunday), used the knife to smarten up the handles and the underside of the bowls yesterday and today I used the twca cam to hollow out the bowls. There were a few hiccups along the way and a few minor adjustments to make, but I'm really happy to have been able to be as productive as I have.

Axed out spoons ready for knife work

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sharpening in the sunshine

Some of my tools were starting to get a little dull, so I've spent most of the morning putting an edge back on them. I use sandpaper wrapped around wood working through 150, 320, 600 and 1000 grit before a final strop using autosol as the honing compound. Not all my tools needed all the grits, for example, the Nic Westermann chip carving knife only needed the 1000 grit and stropping

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Axing spoons

Today's weather was extremely changeable. After roughly finishing two spoons (another two were failures - an unexpected knot and a too thin bowl) I decided to concentrate on just the axe work as I could do the rest indoors. I'll finish them off tomorrow.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Rowan salad servers


For sale £35 for the pair, free postage within the UK, email me for a postage quote if you want them delivered outside the UK.
Payment via PayPal.

Finished spoons

The spoons are a mix of Rowan, holly, birch and aspen, soaked in linseed (flaxseed) oil overnight to seal them. Sealing spoons with oil is optional, as they will develop their own patina through use.