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This blog features the current woodcraft, Art and Graphic work of David Stanley.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Birds Lovespoon Finished

My current illustration work is now finished and I have been able to complete the 'Birds Lovespoon' commenced earlier. This spoon has been carved from a single piece of New South Wales Rosewood. The completed carving was finished with a product called 'Shellawax Cream', which is some sort of emulsion of shellac and wax. Shellawax is really meant for use on turned articles where the rotating work provides the friction necessary to bring up the polish.

Shellawax was probably not the best choice in this particular case however as I was not able to rub the work heavily or vigorously enough for the polish to work as intended without risking a breakage. My intention was to use an artists oil paint and turps glaze to accentuate the modelling of the forms and I thought the thin sealing layer of shellac would make it easier to adjust the effects of the glaze without permanent staining of the timber. As the finishing progressed with the Shellawax and I struggled to get an absolutely smooth finish, it became evident that the rosewood was taking a polish and colour that would not need the effects of the glaze after all and so I left the timber in its natural colour. A final polish with 'EEE' polish, which is a wax and tripoli powder mixture was the final polish on the work meant to smooth out any tiny irregularities on the surface of the carving.

The New South Wales Rosewood was a very responsive timber to carve, it held detail well but was a little dry and brittle in texture. It had a definite weakness where there was any short grain and there were some tricky sections where a degree of tear-out would occur regardless of cutting direction and scraping tended to pull out the fibres rather than produce fine shavings as you'd expect. However the colour alone makes this timber a handsome choice.

I have been told that the cross grain weakness that I experienced is very much reduced when the timber comes from the butt log or especially any subterranean root timber. I have also been told that the same is the case with Australian Cedar. I have found some Cedar that I have, to be a very woolly timber difficult to carve with any detail and difficult to to bring to a fine finish. Apparently Australian Cedar varies greatly according to the growing conditions the size of the tree and the location in the cut log. I have an opportunity to get some cedar that I am told will be at least as good for carving as the New South Wales Rosewood I have used.


  1. A wonderful piece, David. And that detail at the top of the stem where the bottom of the heart attaches is great. You did full justice to a beautiful piece of wood.


    1. Thank you for the comment Bob, I have been researching botanical art a bit lately and started a botanical art course last year. Consequently I've been taking a closer look at plant forms, like seed pods etc. There are some interesting transitions of form, intersections and neat little structures in them that can inspire or add to our decorative repertoire.

      When these are appropriated or alluded to like this, from the Creation that we ourselves are a part of, then they are all the more likely to strike a chord with our audience.

  2. As a carver myself I must say your work is beautiful and well exicuted! You have great hands . . .keep up the great work! ALL of the spoons I looked at were wonderful!

  3. Thank you for your encouraging comments Tom.

  4. What a thrill to have stumbled onto your blog, and most importantly your work! It is fantastic to see and very inspiring! Your designs as well as the execution are really something to aspire to. So delicate and crisp...

    I'm gonna dive further into your archive and will definitely follow you from now on.

  5. Thank you for your comments Debora