The dark side of the spatula

I lost/mislaid my Coleman lamp and now it gets dark in the woods towards 4pm (and we’re in the gloomy “no sun” months).  I found a storm lantern, but it just doesn’t cut the mustard.  Seems somehow to make it darker (as they seem to say in novels) perhaps it’s a dark lantern.

A dark lantern

It’s certainly too dark to read, but nevertheless, my breakfast reading is:

Scan 1Very interesting book.  Works over a very wide definition of craft including medicine, cooking, cello playing, glassblowing, programming to name just a few. It considers the craftsman, machines and their rise, the workshop (e.g that of Stradivari) , the workshop system, including apprenticeships, and gets deeper and deeper into issues such as material consciousness and the hand.  I thoroughly recommend it.

Coincidentally, I’ve been repeat making spatulas (or spatulae as I would like to think in Latin) like Owen Jones makes 10 an hour of:


Master’s left, my first poor effort right.

I’ve done quite a few now, and even sold some!  Today’s …

IMG_0420Changed species from (English) sycamore to some kind of willow that I mistakenly took for alder.  The two with the narrowest handles are the sycamore ones. I carved them in the dark last Thursday.  This is what they looked like raw:

IMG_0416I’d missed putting the chamfer at the top of the handle on the bottom one.  But otherwise they look kind of OK.  Having thought about this a bit, I realised that I am working in the dark anyway when I cut down the blade/handle transition in the shave horse …

IMG_0418I just can’t see the curve from above, so I must be beginning to do it by feel.  Then on Saturday morning I read this in “The Craftsman” .. he is discussing learning the craft of glassblowing,

The problem, she came to understand, lay in dwelling in that moment of “being as a thing”*.  To work better, she discovered, she needed to anticipate what the material would become in its next, as-yet non-existent, stage of evolution.  Her instructor called this simply “staying on track”.

*Previously explained thus “We have become the thing on which we are working.”

Simple huh?  Read the book, Richard Sennett explains it well, and not in a long boring drawn-out kind of way either like some Utube phart.

Anyway, I’ve not just been making spatulae.  I’ve a course coming up teaching a carved bowl.  Thought I’d better brush up as I’ve not made one in a while.  Took loads of tools with me, and forgot the blummin’ adze.  So I used gouges instead – what an happy accident.  Changed the inside of the bowl completely, nice and deep and one has steep sides and a flat bottom.  I guess I could do it with the adze too, but it would take some practice.

IMG_0412 IMG_0398

PS, the Coleman lamp has turned up over the weekend and it gave great light this evening, especially after I’d pumped it up properly.