Sylva Spoon

Gotta Catch Em All

Thomas BartlettComment

Apprenticeship Day 36

I wanna be the very best
Like no one ever was
                              - Pokemon

I feel like I'm collecting gym badges, on my way to enter the Indigo League. I'm already a pretty good spoon carver, I'm happy with the progress of my bowl turning, I can turn nested bowls, I understand how to make birch bark containers, I'm enjoying turning cups, struggling a little with the hollowing. I haven't tried lidded boxes, let alone locking boxes. I have no idea about blacksmithing, but I have at least hit some hot metal now. 


In a Facebook group I'm a part of, someone recently asked, 'Is it possible to make money selling spoons?'. My response was 'You can make money selling spoons. Making a living from just selling spoons is difficult.' My friend Paul Adamson pointed out 'You can make money selling spoons as a small part of an overall craft and skill providing business.' 

Trying to make a living from craft, especially this kind of woodworking, requires you to be able to make a range of things. Look through the photos here on Woodspirit Handcraft. There are plates, cups, spoons, boxes, birchbark canoes. A whole range of items. Not only does Jarrod need to know how to make all of these, there are tools, jigs and machines involved that he might have to make himself.


It can be kind of daunting. Part of what brought this to the forefront of my mind was heading out with Jarrod today to his shed where his forging setup is. He has a small propane powered forge and an anvil. That's pretty much the kind of setup I've been thinking about adding to my workshop (along with a dozen other changes I've been thinking about). Chatting with Jarrod, outside of making tools for sale or classes, he forges about six hooks a year. These either replace worn or broken tools or are new tools to better perform a particular task. I'm certainly not at a level to start teaching turning, so my hook production will probably be max six a year. Is it worth my while to invest in all the gear for six hooks a year?

I know a few folks with forging setups I could bother for the few hooks a year I'd need. It would certainly be more convenient to have a forge and anvil on site. It would also give me the opportunity to practice. So far in my woodworking career I've been able to buy all my tools. On the one hand, having to learn how to make tools is kind of annoying. I don't think I'm ever going to do enough smithing to get really good at it. Blacksmithing is an entire craft in it's own right. On the other hand, having the ability to make the tools I need appeals to me. But the time spent widening my skills is time not spent deepening the skills I've already got. Dilemmas. 

I'll probably eventually maybe get myself a forge and anvil. Mainly because handling red hot steel and smacking it with a hammer makes me feel manly. 

That's enough pondering for now. Here's the cup I turned today. No hole in the bottom of this one.