I have now commenced work on the commissioned spoon which I'm calling the 'Southern Cross Spoon' because it includes the Southern Cross from the Queensland flag. This spoon is being carved in Queensland white beech, a bit on the soft side for my liking, but it seems strong and holds detail well. I used this timber before for the 'dragon Lovespoon' last year but this time the timber is a bit less waxy and therefore might be a bit easier to finish.
The spoon has been roughed out on the scroll saw and I have begun to lay in some of the motifs on the upper surface above the ball and cage section. Normally I would do the tricky and riskier parts first, like the swivel and ball in cage, but I needed to discover where I could get access to the cage.
After the plan view is designed the depth of the carving requires designing on the fly as work proceeds, that is, it's a more intuitive way of working that's needed. So only careful progress will reveal each new step to be taken.
It is from behind the butterfly and stars and trail that best access can be had. So it is now apparent that the ball in cage will not be a straight forward matter, but rather a problem to be solved as we go.
Another design consideration will be the thickness of the stars and the butterfly. They will need to be thick enough, especially in short grain areas to be strong, but still appear thin and delicate.
The two balls in the cage have been completed now and they were particularly difficult to round off, due to lack of access. This lack of easy access meant that the balls, or irregular cubes as they were, had to be separated from the cage sides earlier than it would be wise to do so. This in turn meant that the shaping of these uncooperative lumps into spheres, with little means of holding them, was a bit of a task.
The 'path' or strip on which the butterfly is attached winds its way around the back of the spoon and again, due to the depth of the piece, there needed to be a way of incorporating it into a pleasing design around the back. I am endeavouring to keep the design as simple as possible through the depth of the spoon, unlike the heavily layered designs of some of my previous spoons. However I still want the back to be interesting, pleasing and relate to the front design. This means utilising the stars and path on the reverse side and reducing the apparent thickness of these elements without compromising their integrity when viewed from any angle.
To achieve this I have separated the path at the back into two overlapping star trails with particular care to follow fair curves that properly relate to one another viewed from any angle. I have likewise separated the front and back of the stars into pairs flared back into the path to avoid a blockish thickness in them.
In a similar way I have begun to separate both faces of the open heart at the top of the spoon containing the swivel with a shallow rebate on the broad side of the heart. This very slight addition will create interest and relieve the heaviness of the top heart as it will be read as two thin and elegant hearts instead of one big chunk of heart.
The challenge with the butterfly is to keep it as thick as possible but yet have it appear delicate, I will be working on this illusion as the work progresses but now that the riskiest parts are in place, the areas where breakage is a danger, I can turn to the task of rendering the welsh Dragon in very low relief on the medallion like background. This should also greatly simplify the design of the back of the spoon from here on in, as there will be no need to carve both sides of the dragon nor will it mean incorporating a difficult set of shapes on the back of the spoon. Instead I will have a clear area on the back to accept a shallow inlayed heart of holly on which an inscription can be engraved.
The 'Birds' lovespoon is on hold at the moment but I am hoping to complete it for an up-comming show. In the meantime I am pressing ahead with my illustration work most of each day and thinking about getting back to the botanical art course I'd begun, plus the doll's houses.