Wooden Spoons

Handcarved wooden spoons
Some of the Spoons I have carved in the last year.

I enjoy carving wooden spoons for people to use everyday.  Each spoon is unique as the natural patterns in the wood itself dictate much of the final form.  When I want a particular style of spoon I have to find a piece that will allow me to make the shape and then I must work with the intrinsic grain patterns to expose it.  Most of the time I simply let the wood tell me what to do.  It is all very hard to explain.  For me there is a distinct pleasure that only comes from using a hand crafted tool.  It is similar to, but somehow different from the pleasure of its creation.

Most of the people who know that I carve wooden spoons have seen me carving them in one campground or another.  Then there are others that have seen them and can’t believe that I really carve them myself with hand tools. Well the simple truth is that I am a woodworker and I have an internal need to be doing something with my hands much of the time. That can be a problem when you spend a lot of your time traveling in an RV. Not much room for tools. Sporadic opportunities to purchase supplies. Well you get the picture.

A few years ago Elaine and I chanced upon a bird carving museum and school somewhere near Bar Harbor, Maine and I saw this wood carving kit of knives that looked to be of good quality at a reasonable price. I purchased the kit and a block of basswood with directions for carving a loon.  I carved the loon, and then from another piece of wood an armadillo, an old sea-captain, an owl and some other critters and they were “OK” and the carving part filled the time.  Then one day I decided to carve a spoon and I was hooked. 50 or a 100(?) spoons later I am still carving them. Nothing fancy just utilitarian spoons.

A tree limb
A Vine Maple Limb

I typically start with a piece of firewood, a material that I can find in almost any campground.  Some of my spoons start as scrap from my wood shop, some from driftwood, some donated, and occasionally I will buy it either because I really like the piece or scrounging isn’t keeping up with demand.  First, I use a hatchet to split the limb through the center. The very center must be removed or the wood will crack as it dries.

Some Simple Tools
Some Simple Tools

Depending on my whim, the piece of wood, and the spoon that I am making I may proceed to rough out the spoon with the hatchet. Next I will pare off waste with the saw and chisel and finally with roughing and bent knives.

Left Overs - Kindling
Left Overs – Kindling

In about an hour I have very nice pile of stuff.

Roughed Out Spoon Top
Roughed Out Spoon Top

Oh! And the beginnings of a spoon or sometimes, a smaller piece of firewood.

Roughed Out Spoon Bottom
Roughed Out Spoon Bottom

This one looks just fine. It should clean up nicely.

Completely Roughed Out
Completely Roughed Out

So I scooped out the bowl and then hand scraped it smooth which took the better part of an hour.

2 Views of a Finished Spoon
2 Views of a Finished Spoon

Then a little more careful knife-work, a little of hand scraping on the exterior, and last a bit of sanding.  Another hour gone, but I have a new spoon!

The only thing left is a protective finish.  I generally use food grade walnut oil as it soaks in well and “dries” as opposed to mineral oil which both evaporates and is washed out with normal dish washing.  There is no perfect solution to the problem.  If you use the spoon its finish will have to be renewed from time to time.

Hope you enjoyed your short course in spoon carving,

Your Random Rover,

Gordon

Historic Carousel

A brief respite from building the new homestead.

William Dentzel Office Sign
William Dentzel Office Sign

We traveled to the Albany / Corvallis area of Oregon to check on the construction of our new home and to see my older brother Stephen and while there we took a little time to see the Historic Carousel and Museum located at 503 1st Avenue West in Albany, Oregon.  It was a major highlight for the trip.

Antique Carousel Mounts and Statues
Carousel Mounts and Statues

An emu carved and painted by William Dentzel III in 2002, a statue, and an antique pony are a small portion of a large collection of Dentzel pieces for public view.

Galloper
Galloper
Grey Stander
Grey Stander
Stander
Stander

Three carvings attributed to Gustav Dentzel circa 1895. How many children laughed and rode these ponies?

New Animals Produced at the Museum
New Animals Produced at the Museum
Whimsey and Fun!
More Whimsey and Fun!

How many smiles and rides will these new creations provide?

Carving A New Pony
Carving A New Pony
This Poodle Will Make A Fine Ride
This Poodle Will Make A Fine Ride
Care To Try A Dragon?
Care To Take A Fantasy Dragon Ride?
This One Is The Cock of the Walk!
This One Will Be The Cock of the Walk!

These animals are all being created by volunteers. From sketch-up through carving and finally hand painting they are truly works of art.  If you are ever in the area I would urge you to take the time to see see this museum, studio, and gallery.   Visitors are welcome Monday through Saturday.  For more information see:  AlbanyCarousel.   All of this is part of a grand scheme to build a 52 animal carousel.  The mechanism, one of Gustav Dentzel’s last, built around 1909, has already been restored and is awaiting its new home.

Side Trips Add Fun:

Your Random Rover

Gordon

The Buckyball

The crazy guy / woodworker has been at it again.  I built this just because it challenged me.  One day I saw a soccer ball in the trunk of my son’s car and just knew I had to try making one out of wood.

20 Hexagons soon to be Joined with 12 Pentagons
20 Hexagons soon to be Joined with 12 Pentagons

First I had to do some research, then brush up on some long unused math skills, finally cut parts and glue them up.

Truncated Icosohedron
Another View of the Truncated Icosohedron

Bucky balls are named after Buckminster Fuller, the man who popularized the geodesic dome. The shape, often referred to as a Buckminster Fullerine, is found in the Carbon 60 molecule, the truncated icosahedron and many soccer balls.  This one planned as a prototype is made from cypress, the hexagons, and western red cedar, the pentagons.

A Wooden Buckminster Fullerine
A Wooden Buckminster Fullerine

I think it is pretty neat in a “nerdy” sort of way.  It was definitely  a challenge to layout, cut, assemble, turn, sand and even finish. Will I make another? Yes, because I truly do belong in a straight-jacket. (Don’t give those white coat guys my address.)  The next one will actually be a lidded bowl.

For anyone interested, both the hexagons and the pentagons are regular.  The degree of precision required in sizing the pieces and in cutting the compound angles is well beyond anything I have ever done before.

Enjoy every day you have,
Your Random Rover, Gordon

A Segmented Bowl

I had wanted to create one these bowls ever since I first saw one a number of years ago.  Taking the time to do it was the major hurdle as it seemed to be a very daunting task.  This one is really quite simple, basic basket shape, straight forward construction,  and two color contrast.  The design objective was to make an attractive, useful item that had the basic elements of segmented construction while keeping things relatively uncomplicated so that I actually had a chance of completing it well enough that I would not be tempted to relegate it to the just bin.  I believe I accomplished the goal.  You be the judge.  I will be making more of these as I think they are a beautifully unique combination of nature and precise mechanical-industrial design.

Segmented Bowl
Segmented Bowl

It is: 3 inches tall, 8 inches in diameter, has 110 individual pieces (3-36 piece layers and a two piece bottom), and is made from eastern maple and black walnut.

By the way if you don’t think this is a basic example of this art form then google segmented bowls and see for yourself some of the exciting challenges I have ahead and maybe understand why I want to do more.  This was fun!!

Take the time to make someone happy.

Your Random Rover, Gordon.

Bertha’s Modifications

It seems that I cannot simply leave well enough alone.  Even before buying Bertha, Elaine and I had already discussed some of the necessary “changes”.  So here in no particular order are most of the modifications.

Wine Rack
Wine Rack

We took one look at the wine rack (first picture) and decided it was cutesy (Is that really a word?) and impractical.  Besides there would certainly be better places to store the alcoholic beverages. So I removed the wine rack that was to the left of the sink, took out the dividers, made some bins to hold (vertically) the oils, vinegars, and sauces that we use all the time, and remounted the unit.    The bins are of the simplest possible construction but they look fine and function well.

Slide Out Basement
Slide Out Basement

Camping World, on line, had basement slide-out kits on sale at a price I could not pass up.  The kit, a sheet of plywood, some outdoor carpet, a little ingenuity and voila!  (Check that out a French contraction, minus the obligatory grave accent, and you thought I only spoke redneck.)  Anyhow, this is one mod I know I will be happy I did.  Now that is accessibility!

Sink Area
Sink Area

There was a single fixed shelf under the kitchen sink which to our minds made for poor storage and we wanted a pull-out trash unit.  Plus, we like a tall faucet and wanted a charcoal filter for drinking water.  OK  Start by removing the cabinet doors and then the shelf.  Like most of the other shelves in the unit it was made up of 1/8″ plywood over a light weight pine frame.  Pry the plywood off the frame, unscrew the frame, unscrew the face frame rail and remove all. Remove the existing faucet.  Place the new faucet in the existing hole.  Position the filtered water tap and mark its desired location.  Get everything out of the way and drill for the added tap.  (An ordinary drill bit will work fine on the solid surface top)   Mount the filter, faucet, tap, and hook up the plumbing.  Build the pull out trash and 2 pull out trays.  Install a short floor mount partition to hang the full extension guides on.  Reinstall the right hand door.  Remove all the hinges from left hand door.  Slide in the pull out trash.  Align the left hand door with the right and hold in place.  Open the right door and from inside the cabinet screw the door onto the trash bin uprights. Place the trash bin and install the other two slide out trays.  Eureka!! A sink area that functions.

Bookshelves
Bookshelves

Since we both often read in bed we needed a place to put our books without getting out of bed.  But where??  With a king size bed in a Queen size bedroom there just did not seem to be anywhere that did not get in the way of something else.  Two narrow shelves right over the headboard made from one of the now unused wine rack dividers ought to get the job done.

Beverage Bins
Beverage Bins

Did I mention beverage storage?  Yes I did – simple removable bins to keep bottles upright and separated.

Drying Rack in Shower
Drying Rack in Shower

Unfortunately the sun does not always shine while we are on the road. So this is a place to hang items that are wet.  It is situated just aft of the skylight over the shower.  It is made from 1/4″ plexiglass that was cut, glued, routed, and drilled before being torched to polish the cut edges.

The rest is all pretty standard stuff like a soap dispensers in the shower, storage for dump hoses underneath, or duplicated items from Hannah.  (see “Hannah” posted July 2012)  I did do under the bed bins again and added some fixed shelves in the wall cabinets to keep things in reach.  A total of 9 roll outs, including a mini roll out pantry, in the kitchen make more things easily accessible.  If you have questions send me a comment and I will try to answer.  As you can see I have been pretty busy.  The only thing left to do is to set up the satellite system and Bertha will, I hope, be ready to travel.  Now on to that list of things that I need to do for the homestead.  Oh yeah, I guess we need a small drawer cabinet for the living area.  Did I forget anything??  Maybe I’ll be done in time to leave.  When on earth do retired people get to take a vacation??   🙂

Keep the shiny side up and seek out the things that make you and your loved ones smile.

Your Random Rover,

Gordon

And back to AZ

Hanna On The Road
On The Road In Texas

We have returned home completing another “there and back again” (Thank you Mr. Tolkien) adventure, this one 5,272 miles long.  We went to a few familiar places and a plethora of new ones.  This is a wonderful land we live in, overflowing with interesting places and people worth remembering.  This trip was no different from our others in that we made some new friends and created new memories.

Segmented Bowl
Segmented Bowl

On leaving Rockport/Fulton we headed north to Austin where we went to an RV Show to check out the “au courant” of 5th wheels.  While there we should have checked out The Broken Spoke, one of Texas’ famous dance venues, but it was mid-week so we took a pass.  By the way, we really did not see anything electrifying at the show though there are a couple of units in Tucson that we want to look at in a week or two.  From Austin we took another short drive to Bandera, which bills itself as the cowboy capital of Texas.  We shopped Bandera, Comfry, and Boerne from there.  Elaine found really great fiber arts supply and I found some very nice woodwork by some local craftspeople.

A Texas Honky Tonk
A Texas Honky Tonk

And one night we danced at a bona fide, indubitable, unimpeachable, Texas Honky Tonk.  Would you go in here in the dark of night?   Yes those are brassieres hanging from the ceiling.  No I am not dancing, I’m taking the picture.  We drank some beer, danced a little on the concrete floor had a good time and went home sober.  From Bandera we went to Fredericksburg for mexican food at Hilda’s (You have to try it! It is great.) and you guessed it more shopping.

Camping 81 Palms
Camping 81 Palms

We spent our last night in the same place as the first, 81 Palms, in Demming NM.

All natural myrtle wood hand carved armadillo, by your ever modest author
All natural myrtle wood hand carved armadillo, by your ever modest author

Oops, this is a post script.  I just realized that the myrtle wood armadillo that I carved somehow got left out and Elaine says he must be included so here he is.  His name is Dilly if you are curious.

Thank you all for spending time with us on this Texas odyssey, Y’all.  And yes your comments are welcome.

Gordon the Random Rover

Busy In Texas

OctoBench
Pool Bench With Table

Just a quick post to let you all know that I haven’t been completely idle.

Park Bench
Park Bench

This 10 foot long bench and the octagon pool bench with table are two of the six that I have made for the park here with a skill saw and screw gun from stock lumber.  Nothing fancy but comfortable, durable places for people to sit and enjoy this areas wonderful winter weather.

2 Spoons
2 Spoons

These are 2 spoons I carved to amuse myself when I did not wish to do anything complicated or particularly difficult.  The top spoon is made from a piece of madrone that was a gift from my good friend Gerry in Medford, Oregon.  The bottom spoon is of eucalyptus that I collected in Arizona.  It is from a tree that was killed in the freeze of 2011.

Small Caricature
Little Man

I finally finished this little guy.  I started carving him at Cape Disappointment where one of my fellow campers who saw me carving said he was a cute little man and the name has stuck.  He is a freehand caricature, my very first.

Happy Travels,

Gordon

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