SAMSUNG CSCPhew!  Where to start?  Maybe in the morning (as above).

I took the role of morning hot water monitor:

SAMSUNG CSCEarly morning is my favourite time of day – a whole day ahead to spoil, and not many people about.


The fire ring was big and usually had embers in from the revels of the previous night, so it was easy to rekindle it and race the gallon kettle against the Kelly Kettle.

The festival is a great meet up place, OK currently only two continents, but I can’t see that lasting for long.  People carve spoons all together, all the time (the first axes start at about 7am):


Check out how concentrated everyone is.

But spoonfest is not just spoon-carving alone, it is about learning and meeting people.

Here is  Fritiof Runhall explaining the development of wooden spoon styles as living traditions changed and associated ergonomics.  So cranked handles are hypothesised to go back to a communal bowl and straight handles can only work with individual bowls (i.e. when the standards of living changed).

SAMSUNG CSCThis is JanHarm ter Brugge.  Jan excels at teaching spoon decoration amongst other things.


He is an excellent disseminator of techniques, principles and design.  This is his illustration of a Sami maze decoration:

I learnt a lot from him, and I’m aiming to copy this style:
There’s a mistake in one spoon – can you see it? Jan explained that mistakes are fine as they reinforce the hand-made quality.

This is Jarrod  Stonedahl explaining how to make and use ‘natural’ paints, oil paint, milk paint, egg tempura with earth pigments for colouring.  I learnt why my paint wasn’t working – missed out the lime!

SAMSUNG CSCNic Westerman’s rather neat blacksmithy.  He demonstrated in full forging an axe, the crowds were rather deeper when that was happening!

Not all hard work and learning.  2013 saw the premier of The Spoonfest Athletics.  Here is the start of the race to stir a cup of tea with a wooden spoon no-handed.
There were a handful of races in the championship including The maker who looks most like their spoon.  Fritiof that afternoon had made a spoon with a statue of himself as the handle, it was topped off with a bunch of his own hair!  Steve Tomlin was overall winner, and I should really have taken a vid of his extraordinary victory tour.

Great weekend, great people, great location,


and I learned quite a bit too – my spoon knife is now pretty damn sharp, and I should be able to stitch leather neatly, I’ve got the basics of playing the spoons (thanks Jo) and I’ve already got the first stage of a moulded hook knife sheath.

The finale again was spoon club with around 200 people all doing 5 minutes carving a spoon and then passing it on.  Although not a race, it was hard concentration, as you can see the moment after the hour was up:

SAMSUNG CSCThis is the output from out group

SAMSUNG CSCA big thank you to these two guys who put so much effort into the production of Spoonfest.

SAMSUNG CSCRobin Wood & Barn The Spoon in very uncharacteristic reflective mode.



Spoon Club of two

I’m on a journey with carving spoons.  Making them is the most demanding work I do in wood as the tolerances are very, very fine; the risk management (one slip and it’s firewood) is high; the design content almost outweighs everything else; the number of beautiful spoons carved by other people is very high.  OK so it’s not an easy thing, I’d like to say I do it for relaxation, as I certainly don’t do it to make money!

Cyclo Cross Group

CycloCross Group (Photo credit: mirod)

However, making a spoon is a very concentrated piece of work, which lasts quite a long time, it’s a bit like riding the Yorkshire Three Peaks Cyclocross bike race – concentrated effort over a sustained period.




The thing is while I’m carving a spoon I can not think about anything else.  That is a good thing I think.

So here are two hazel spoons I’m working up.  I’ve done this design around four times before, all in hazel. They are copied from a Scottish horn spoon that we’ve had around the house for some years. This time I’ve made two at once.  A bit like in a spoon club pass round, I worked on one for a spell and then swapped to the other.  The main thing I noticed was that the second run always seemed to work better and more quickly than the first.  I guess I’m learning from the first making.

Axing out the split log:

This is bark up, that is, the bottom of the bowl and the back of the spoon facing the pith at the centre of the log.  You can see the brown line of the pith in the left hand half that’s just split. I’ve split the log with my little ‘Gem’ axe that I reserve for spoons and then with the right-hand half I’ve axed off the pith and the outside until it’s flat and wide enough to draw on the outline of the spoon.

Now I’ve got them both ready for tracing an outline.  I’d like to get away from this outline, but it gives me the overall length and width and a guide to the shape I’m after.

Here they’re drawn in:

And now I’ve axed the shapes out.

At this point I stopped and re-read the notes I’d taken at Spoonfest when attending Steve Tomlin‘s workshop on improving your spoons.

This gave me a good plan to follow instead of flitting about all over the spoon blank at will. My next tasks were: complete the plan profile of the handle, then the bowl, carve the underside of the bowl, carve the stem – where the handle joins the spoon last.  Hollow the bowl after the underside of the bowl is done.  All the time checking for symmetry and line.  I finished them off this morning and they are now awaiting poker-work from Jane and dispatch to customers.  They turned out slightly different, but I think carving two at once is a good thing for improving my carving.

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Spoons and rungs

I’ve been rather busy recently, what with a WWOOFer, an exhibition, making a set of chairs, etc.

Here are some carved spoons from a junk shop in Malton, they seem decidedly foreign, especially the star-shaped hole on the lower one.  The carved decoration is pretty inspirational though; there are mistakes aplenty, which made me think we are now very used to seeing “perfect” (looking) artefacts produced by machines.  Hand -made objects are much more lively.  I now feel more comfortable with the finish on my bowls.  Here’s the detail on the old chip carved letter-opener:

You’d never get a machine to produce work like this and for it to vary each time one was made!

I’ve been feeling a bit like a machine producing rungs for a set of dining chairs, here they all are drying at home:

Once they’re dry I’ll be making the legs, free-form at the back and turned for the front.  I’m also making the splats for the ladder back, three each time I brew (the steamer goes on the brew kettle.)

The exhibition in Strid Exhibition centre, went well

Some interesting work inspired by Strid Wood from a local artist Joy Godfrey and potter Chris Bailey is there as well as some of my furniture:

I’ve added the glass platter as my header for now.

Meanwhile, Autumn draws on with a ground frost this morning and Poached Egg fungi appearing in Strid: