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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back to 'Cariad' Lovespoon

'Cariad' welsh lovespoon

At last it's time to get back to the 'Cariad' welsh lovespoon. We had been considering walnut as the timber to carve from and the rich dark colour of the walnut would have suited the design well. However on examining a couple of pieces of walnut that I already had, I was concerned that the grain was a little too open and coarse to carry the intended detail, especially with the canadian geese and the Mt Tryfan Gate.

One of the pieces of walnut was european walnut and the other black walnut, comparing the two I thought that the slightly finer grain of the european walnut might have been suitable but it would have been very tricky for it to hold the amount of detail that would be an important part of this design. Also both boards were barely one inch thick and I felt I would need at least an inch and a quarter and possibly a bit more to be safe with what is to be be a multi-layered carving.

My consequent search for another suitable piece of european walnut only turned up more black walnut (certainly a beautiful timber but not for this project). During the search I found a nice piece of european cherry, almost as dark as walnut but with a more golden hue. The cherry also had the other attributes I was looking for – so far as you can tell by just looking. Subsequent slicing cuts across the grain, which I could do after purchase, tell the story I think.

cherry / walnut comparison

I purchased the, cherry and Dawn and James, my clients who requested the lovespoon, were happy with cherry as a choice. Because my experience is limited, in that I've only used rock maple and walnut for carving lovespoons before, I sort some advice on the use of cherry for carving welsh lovespoons.

I have David Western's Book 'The Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons', am an admirer of the innovative directions David has taken the art in his long experience as a professional carver and I have been following his blog
( www.davidwestern.blogspot.com ) which shows the progress of a lovespoon he is jointly designing and carving, by correspondence and by sending the work piece back and forth, with Laura Gorun
( www.BlakesPA.com ), another talented carver of finely delicate lovespoons, in America. So I emailed a request to David, to advise on the choice of cherry in the light of his experience.

David Western kindly shared his knowledge and experience on the use of american cherry, though he hadn't done anything with european cherry. David confirmed my thought that cherry would hold the necessary detail well and added the interesting information that cherry darkens considerably on exposure to light to a rich and mellow tone and takes a beautiful oiled finish. I also seem to remember that walnut actually fades a little on exposure to light .

the selected piece

So I am feeling happy about the choice of the cherry. The next step after timber selection is to bring this board to the appropriate dimensions and then attach the pattern for cutting the outline. In order to arrive at the thickness necessary however, I will first have to place the pattern on top and visualise – even roughly sketch out the possible profile of the whole spoon on the edge of the board to see how much depth is required and also consider how much thickness I am willing to tackle with the scroll saw in a hard wood like cherry . Sometimes however, not everything can be planned beforehand, instead the continuing design process has to be taken by the hand and led by some bold steps into the actual work before a way ahead can be seen. So I will see what lies ahead when I've made a start with the selected piece of timber.

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