Sylva Spoon

Turning Rhythm

Thomas Bartlett1 Comment

Apprenticeship Day 40

Heading down into the basement this morning there was only one lamhog mandrel free. The rest were still stuck in the lamhogs I turned yesterday. I wasn't sure what Jarrod was planning to do for the day, so I decided to start by turning my cup-a-day cup. I usually wait until the end of the day to work on my stuff. Jarrod doesn't care when I make them, but that usually felt like the right time to do it. Today I did it first as I knew I'd end up freeing up the mandrel when I finished, so I could then use it to rough out another lamhog.

Jarrod started his day by working on the awaiting lamhogs, so by the time I finished my cup, there were plenty of free mandrels. Now that I'm working to a template, there's (hopefully) less work for Jarrod to do with the outsides. In the end I think it took less that two hours for him to do the outside finishing work on those five lamhogs. 

I just cracked on with turning lamhogs for the rest of the day. I had two fully axed out blanks from the day before. Once those were turned I axed out six more and got round to turning three of them. 

This week feels like Jarrod and I have gotten into a really good rhythm with the lamhogs. I can rough out about five in a day. Jarrod can fully finish about five or six. Like most of the woodware we both make, we don't take one item from log to finished article in one fluid process. We do a certain amount of work on batches. I carve and rough turn the outside of a batch. Jarrod then finishes the outside of that batch. Then he hollows them. Finally he carves the handle. By that point, there's another batch waiting.

Working at this scale of production is a lot of fun. Making the same object again and again teaches you lessons you can immediately apply. The scale of production we're working to is big enough to get into a rhythm but small enough to keep it interesting. We're also working to a target. We have pre-orders that need filling. I've found that Jarrod is a lot more loosey-goosey with regards to targets than I am. For things like carving the spoons for tomorrow's Spoonagedon I wanted a target number of blanks to carve. Jarrod prefers to set to work and just see what happens. So having a set number of lamhogs to make is mentally pleasing for me. I think it helps when making the same thing over and over because you know there's an end in sight. I can easily imagine making the same object again and again becoming overwhelming without that. 


As this is the last week of my apprenticeship, I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on this period. I've spent almost four months apprenticing for Jarrod. During this time I've learned a great deal. However it's only been towards to end of this time that I've been able to work more independently of Jarrod. For many people four months is a time commitment they can't make. So I feel super fortunate that I've been able to do that (thanks Courtney). But for Jarrod, a big part of this apprenticeship has been spent teaching me. And I feel like I came into this with a good grounding in woodworking. The investment Jarrod has put in only really starts to pay off towards the end of our time together. I'm extremely thankful Jarrod was willing to take me on and teach me what he has. I'd like to think that my input has helped Woodspirit Handcraft and I appreciate taking on an apprentice represents quite the risk for Jarrod. He's done it a couple of times in the past, and it looks like I haven't screwed up anything so badly that he won't do it again in the future

If you're interested in apprenticing with Jarrod next winter the spot is still open. If you want to know more but feel like the 40 blog posts I've written on my experience aren't quite enough information on what it's like, feel free to get in touch.