Sylva Spoon

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Thomas Bartlett1 Comment

Before getting into what went on today, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Sarah Artz of One-OneThousand for organising the Good Day Market. I had a great time selling my wares. My fellow craft vendors were all awesome and super talented. I also had some really great conversations with people. My favourite was probably with a woman who, after looking over my stall, asked if the spoon she was holding was the smallest I had. It was a teaspoon measure, and yes, the smallest there. She looked a little crestfallen and told me she was looking for a smaller spoon to replace a tiny salt spoon that went missing. Apparently it was stolen by a mouse. She had this little handmade wooden salt spoon but it mysteriously disappeared. Eventually she found it behind the refrigerator, heavily nibbled. I thought that was a fantastic story, so I made a replacement right there!

Apprenticeship Day 16

The weekly Monday morning meeting was a short one. We'll be turning bowls and cups. That was about all there was on the agenda. I think we'll focus on just a couple of bowl shapes and maybe just one cup shape. 

After reading Jarrod's Instagram post on wooden cups, obviously that was going to be the first thing I worked on. Jarrod's talk of the 'continuum', the chain of connection that links craftspeople back in time through the objects they make, reminded me of a quote my mate Derek Brabender sent me: 

Good apprentices know that they are in the process of becoming masters and that as responsible artisans they must seek to improve upon the knowledge entrusted to them and go further.

As apprentices we are not better than those who went before. We are a part, an extension of our predecessors, the newest buds on an ancient tree, living tree. If we do not reach up to the sun and down to the soil for nourishment to help the tree grow, we have not been faithful to the trust invested in us..."
- WM. S. Coperthwaite

No pressure right?

Still, I'm learning lots. One titbit of knowledge Jarrod entrusted to me was basically a reminder that while there's a linear process to things like bowl turning, sometimes going back a step can help you move forward. 

I made use of that advice this morning. After finishing the cup, I worked on a bowl. We have chainsawed blanks ready to go, but they need a little refinement with the axe. Just to knock a few corners off. However the final blank isn't always symmetrical. It can be a lot of work to turn one section of the bowl down to the level of the rest of the bowl. Plus those lumps throw the bowl out of balance. Too extreme and the bowl can even spin off the lathe.

axe and bowl blank

So I took a set back. Figuratively and literally. Axing off those lumps helped me to more quickly move forward with the bowl. 

Jarrod suggested I work on a blank I made last week. It had been sitting in the wood shavings over the weekend and had developed a small crack near the rim. Rather than have Jarrod finish it and risk it failing while drying it would be good practice for me. 

What a lovely bowl. It would be a shame if anything happened to it...

What a lovely bowl. It would be a shame if anything happened to it...

The bowl was destined to be a closed form ale bowl. While here I've yet to do an undercut rim, so that was exciting. It took me the rest of the morning and a little after lunch to finish the bowl. It had a sweet little foot,  a nice sweep to the main body. The tampered-in rim could have been more concave. Overall, a pretty good bowl. 

Then Jarrod stepped in. 



It's fine, I just got a bit of wood in my eye, that's all...

It's fine, I just got a bit of wood in my eye, that's all...

As Jarrod explained it, when you turn a bowl, you're actually making two bowls. The inside bowl and the outside bowl. Cutting a bowl in half lets you see how well those two bowls work together. The two bowls don't have to follow the same shape, but they do need to compliment one another. It's an excellent way to learn.

One step back, two steps forwards.