Sylva Spoon


Oak burr

Tom BartlettComment
I was digging through my wood pile and found some oak burrs that are about a year old. I'd completely forgotten about them. The swirling grain is amazing, so I thought I'd make as many tiny spoons out of it as I could. So far I've managed six.

Most of the time I will just have a tooled finish to my spoons, but with burrs I like to sand them as I think it helps the patterns in the grain to stand out.

With the first one, the swirls weren't that apparent, even after oiling. 

The grain patterns were much more pronounced in the second spoon.

 Here are the six I've done so far, and I've still got a few lumps of burr wood left. 

A Spot of Decoration

Tom BartlettComment
Inspired by the  designs and work of Simon Hill, I decided to do a little more spoon decorating. Here I've drawn out the pattern on the spoon handle.

Carefully I cut along the lines at a slight angle in one direction, then at the opposite angle, cutting a 'v' shaped groove. A small piece of wood is removed from each line.

I made small incisions, not removing any material, to create a darker line. To help the decoration stand out I rubbed coffee grounds into the design.

After speaking with Simon Hill and how he does his work, I think I need to slow down and do a little at a time if I want crisper, more uniform, designs.

An adventure into Welsh dolphin spoons

Tom Bartlett4 Comments

On Friday I made this spoon from a purple plum branch and shared it in a Facebook spoon carving group. I've mentioned before that the group is a great source of help and inspiration and the following spoon making journey is proof of that. 

Jojo Wood, a fantastic spoon carver, whose work I admire, asked if the above spoon was inspired by the dolphin spoons made by a chap called Owen Thomas

I'm not particularly familiar with Owen's work and his dolphin spoons didn't feature as inspiration for the above spoon (turns out he was an apprentice of Barn the Spoon and does really nice bowls as well as making spoons). The above spoon was a bit of a mash up of aspoon I received from Jojo, a cherry spoon I bought from Jane Mickelborough and my own creative meanderings. 

However I had a look at the link to Owen's work that Jojo supplied:

Owen's dolphin spoons
In the description of these spoons, Owen says:
Initially influenced by the traditional Welsh dolphin spoons, these have developed into a shape of their own. 
For me, these spoons have moved quite a way from the traditional Welsh dolphin spoon design. I'd really like to have a chat with Owen at Spoonfest next weekend to find out more about the journey his spoon design went on.

Traditional dolphin spoons from Caernarvonshire, Wales

For me, the biggest difference between what Owen has developed and the original dolphin spoons is that the dorsal fin-like ridge has disappeared from Owen's design:
Side profile of Owen's dolphin spoons
I actually quite like the look of the traditional ridge, and the aquatic shape it gives to the spoons. I ended up doing quite a bit of desk-based research into the traditional dolphin spoonand they all seem to share that ridge and a wide, up-swept end to the handle.

So, the inspiration for this spoon comes directly from the traditional Welsh dolphin spoon, but via a comment by Jojo Wood, the work of Owen Thomas and a spoon I carved that had nothing to do with a certain aquatic mammal.

I used some purple plum branch wood for this spoon. Traditionally they seem to be mainly sycamore, but plum is what I've got, so plum is what I use. 

The design is based on the various images of traditional Welsh dolphin spoons I found. I drew it off-centre due to the asymmetrical shape of the branch wood. 

Here's the top view after rough shaping with the axe.

For me, the key feature of a dolphin spoon is in the profile view, the top of the thin stem is raised, akin to a dolphin's dorsal fin, and the wide, flat end of the handle mimics the dolphin's tail. 

The bottom of the spoon roughed out, following the pencil lines as closely as possible. 

Here's the spoon after I've finished with most of the axe work. I did some rough shaping of the underside of the bowl with the axe before moving onto the knife work. 

Here is my finished dolphin spoon, the bowl on this traditional Welsh design hollowed out with a traditional Welsh tool, the twca cam

The side profile shows the raised 'dorsal' stem. I feel that I could have done more to exaggerate the lift at the end of the handle, but the upward sweep is there. Not bad for my first attempt.

It actually felt nice to carve a traditional design native to the UK after focusing on Swedish style spoons for so long. I think I'll have a look into other traditional British designs. If you have any suggestions for traditional British spoon styles, please let me know.

Wonky Sweet Chestnut Spoon

Tom Bartlett2 Comments
This came from a naturally bent branch I came across in my local woodland. After splitting out the blank I decided that the handle should follow the flow of the grain.

I often finding myself working hard to maintain symmetry in the work I do. This was a fun diversion. Jogge Sundqvist, a brilliant woodworker from Sweden said that 'form follows fiber'. It wouldn't have been too difficult to cut across the grain and create a straight(er) handle, but as the curve of the bowl was already waiting in the wood to be revealed, I wanted the shape of the handle to emerge naturally too. I also wanted to keep the bark on. I'm not sure how long it will stay on, but I like the way it adds to the natural shape of the spoon, a utensil already in a branch, ready to be released with a few simple tools.

Plum Travel Spoons

Tom BartlettComment
Here are a couple of short handled eating spoons that have recently emerged from their linseed oil bath. They're loosely based on my rowan travel spoon.

Rowan travel spoon

Need to work on the symmetry of the back of the bowl and the neck of the spoon.

 I was inspired to make more little spoons after a fellow spoon carver Don Nazlezyty revealed his latest 'pocket spoon'.