Sylva Spoon

End Grain Cups

Thomas BartlettComment

Apprenticeship Day 33

The wood boxes we made a couple of weeks ago all went on sale today. I think about seven of the twelve available sold within the first fifteen minutes of the sale going live. At the time of writing, about six hours after the sale began, just three boxes are still available. It's a nice feeling to be a part of a successful craft business. We put a lot of work and effort into the pieces we make, so seeing people appreciate them and want to have them in their own homes is great. While Woodspirit Handcraft is not Sylva Spoons, it gives me hope that so many people out there want to own quality woodenware.

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Alongside the boxes available for immediate purchase, there was the option to pre-order lamhogs. I've been doing some work to preempt these orders, but now the orders are in, the lamhogs need to be made. So of course, that meant turning another mandrel. Fortunately I could just take one of the larger bowl mandrels and turn it smaller. Jarrod wants the two of us to get into a rhythm with producing the lamhogs. We had a good thing going with the run of bowls we did a while back and I think he has something similar to that in mind. 

I spent the first part of my workday finishing up the rough carved spoons. Earlier in the week I'd completed the axe work and decided to take them all to the spoon mule. I ended up making a few of them a little thin. Jarrod pawed through the bag and pulled some of the thinner ones out. They're not too thin to turn into a workable spoon, but some only have enough material to make one or two passes with the knife alongs the bowl rim. That would be okay for me, as I made the blanks according to my process. They're good blanks, but it's not exactly the process Jarrod uses. It would make life easier for him to have a bit more material to get it to a shape he's familiar with and then refine it. I've left him with some blanks he has to jump straight into refining. Gotta keep life interesting for him.

The three of us spent some time chatting when the sale went live and orders started to come in. It was fun to theorise about why certain boxes sold before others, about possible improvements, whether buyers were Newsletter subscribers, Instagram followers or knew about the sale some other way. I really admire the way Jarrod and Jazmin drum up excitement about their sales. As I've already mentioned, it's also gratifying to see people eager to own something you've had a hand in making. 

Internet sales are something I definitely want to get back into. I sell most of my work at Art or Craft Fairs, and this year I'm hoping to get into the Madison Farmer's Market. So it can be tricky to build up stock and sell it online in the way Woodspirit Handcraft does. Last year I had a hard time juggling what items on my website had sold at craft fairs. In the end I stopped adding things to my website as it was easier to just stockpile the things I was making for the next fair. I do however like what Jarrod has done with the lamhogs. I might use a similar model for selling spoons and perhaps bowls on my website: advertise a selection of designs and let folks know their order might take a couple of weeks to complete as it'll be made to order for them. That way I don't run the risk of forgetting to take down an item I've already sold at a craft fair. 

Using my shiny new mandrel I turned another lamhog blank. I'm still just working on removing the axe marks, not doing much in the way of shaping. Working around the handle is still a struggle. It's humbling to take the blank and compare my surface finish to what Jarrod is able to produce. I'm happy with my finish above and below the handle, but around the handle itself, it's still kind of messy. Plenty of opportunity to practice coming up though. 

Seeing as end grain cups are going to be the thing for the next couple of weeks, Jarrod suggested I turn one to completion. Just a simple tumbler, no handle. I was pleased with my result. The outside has a nice shape, and the hollowing wasn't as traumatic as I thought it might be. Jarrod suggested I turn it in the afternoon when he was planning to be turning as well. He had some pointers to give me. However he received a phone conversation that took him out of the workshop. I turned the cup to the point i thought it done and snapped it off the lathe. The outside was nice, but the inside was a bit of a mess.

The inner surface didn't follow the outer surface very well, and the finish was pretty rough. The mismatch was all on me. Past about an inch or so, you're hollowing blind. More importantly, I couldn't really stick my fingers in the slot I'd hollowed to check thickness. Getting a better match will just come with practice. Getting a better finish however can be improved by using a different tool. Jarrod had intended to give me that tool to use, but wasn't around to do so. I finished the inside with a spoon knife and have it buried in shavings. Hopefully it won't split over the weekend.