Category Archives: woodwork

Some Simple Hacks That Make Carving Wood Safer

I don’t usually post twice in one day to my blog, but I just had a conversation with a friend on facebook that nudged me about something I wanted to talk about-

Being safe when carving wood.

Why?  Because I have caused myself considerable harm a couple of times when a moment of mindlessness let my knife slip, with almost fatal consequences.

I talk about it in this little video:

 

Here are some specific things that I use to keep my hands safe while I carve:

 

The square of wood with the enhanced corner is a carving support that my husband built for me.

See how the lip hangs over the edge of the desk?

It sits on anti-slip fabric to prevent it from skidding around.

Another square of the anti- slip fabric is on the carving support to keep the piece from skidding while I am carving it.

My lovely husband made it from various scraps of wood we had around.

Make it any size that works for you.

 

The piece of wood with bark on it is a great way of holding down a piece of carving with my left hand while I carve with my right hand.

The knife, chisel or file can easily slip and plunge into the hand that is holding the work in place and I would rather skid into a bit of wood than my hand.

(I’ve had more than my fair share of stitches over the years!)

 

Tottie Tomato is modelling rubber thumb and finger thingies that are usually used for filing papers, but they work great as finger and thumb tip protectors on my left hand.

Can you see how the nubbinses are almost all gone?  That’s from interacting with knives, chisels, sandpaper and files.

Better to nip the finger protector than my finger.

 

The 2 leather things are thumb protectors that I made from leather by trial and error to get the fit and shaping right.

I cut an oval of thick leather that I had in a drawer in the studio and punched holes around the top to gather it and also 2 holes in the tabs to tie them into a comfortable fit.

You can see that the lighter color one is almost done… it’s really notched up – and none of those cuts made it to my precious thumbs! Yay!

It started out looking identical to the darker colored one (same leather), but the hard use and lots of slices have taken the finish completely off it.

I sometimes wear the second one on my left hand, but not often.

I NEVER carve without wearing the protector on my right hand thumb.

You can see why, as it’s so beaten up by just a few hundred hours of carving.

 

Power Tools: 

ALWAYS wear a face shield when working with electric tools, and a dust mask and ear protectors and anything else that is going to keep you safe, smart and out of the emergency room!

This is only friendly advice from a person who has done damage to herself when NOT wearing safety equipment and I really don’t want you to hurt yourself.

BUT I also have to make the usual disclaimer… I don’t know your situation and I mean well, but I am NOT an authority on safety issues, just a concerned and loving person.

So, my friend, USE YOUR THINKY BRAIN AND DON’T DO DUMB STUFF, okay?

hugs ❤

 

 

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Tottie and the Starspoon Sisters

We are in the throes of a huge winter storm.   We had one in November, but have had almost no snow since and remarkably warm and pleasant weather.

Luckily, we are blessed to be safe and warm, and this morning in the studio, Tottie Tomato had visitors.

She heard a sound at the Story Door, so she went to investigate.

It was the 3 Starspoon Sisters with a delivery of stars to add a little sparkle to a grey and stormy day.

Birch Starspoon was joined by her sisters,

Basswood Starspoon and

Cedar Starspoon.

The Starspoon Sisters and Tottie were all feeling a little chilly from the raging winds outside the studio windows.

So, they all had a cup of tea while I went off to carve more dolly spoons.

Stay warm and be safe, be well and be kind ❤

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I forgot to Mention that a few years ago I carved a new Tottie Tomato doll for my blog

Oh my goodness, how can I have forgotten to mention that the original Tottie Tomato doll that I made oh so many years ago had to retire because she wore out?

She’s living happily with friends in comfort and ease in my studio-

When it became clear that she was in tough shape, I set to work carving a new incarnation of Tottie Tomato. (See my About page for the story of how Tottie Tomato originated).

Original Tottie supervised my carving of New Tottie.

And the painting, and the finishing, and the jointing, then the crochet and tatting of Little Tottie’s new dress.

The smaller incarnation of Tottie Tomato is fine and fiesty and

Retired Tottie approves completely.

Tottie still goes off to the Story door-

and enjoys picnics there with friends –

She watches carefully while I create more friends for her….

and loves getting to know them…

Tottie Tomato is pleased that I have finally- FINALLY- given her a PROPER introduction and she sends you her hugs and love ❤

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Respite from world events in carving spoons with love

This difficult week that our world has gone through made me want to carve out images of love, delight, sweetness and joy.

And, so I did.

My son upcycled trees that had died and had to be cut down, and made me blanks for my carving.

A Manitoba Maple from the yard of the parents of friends has re-incarnated as a mermaid.

I could feel the Mermaid in the piece of Maple, and so I carved this Mermaid spoon.

I wanted her to look like the ocean carved her, even when it was me who did.

My son rescued the wood from a dead chokecherry tree and made me spoon carving blanks.

The chokecherry wood became heart and hand spoons, 2 sweet little sisters and a woman who dreamt of dancing with the moon….

The chokecherry wood is almost translucent while it’s being carved and takes lots of coats of oil and several days of resting after it’s carved to start changing color.

Heart and hand images are dear to my heart and I find it very healing to carve them.

The first one is a spoon that is like a magic wand, asking to be waved in the air to stir up common sense and loving, calling out to appreciative hearts, full of compassion and gratitude.

The chokecherry tree died awhile ago, but it’s heart lives on.

It really wanted to be another Heart and Hand, and this one called to me to add color by including beads.

The pebbles in the palm of the hand and the bowl of the heart are not attached.

They just jumped in because they wanted to be in the pictures.

A whole lot more heart and hand carved spoons are waiting in a pile of upcycled wood from trees that have died, but are living on as carved spoons!

Two darling little sisters called out to me and asked me to carve them as spoon dolls.

The first is a sweet bunny who is excellent at giving bunny/upcycled chokecherry tree hugs.

I carve the arms on my spoon dolls from sections of wood that I cut away while I am cutting out the rough outline with the scroll saw.

It’s important to me that I carve their arms from the exact same piece of wood that they are made from, and of course, I have to make the arms moveable.

All the better to deliver hugs when the world is needing so much love….

I am enchanted by these little wooden beings who reveal themselves to me as I carve them.

I am guided by what they want.

No, I am not bonkers,

I don’t hear voices 😀

but I do feel that I am guided by the spirit of the tree in asking me to do what it wants and to let it be what it needs to be.

Birds obviously must have loved the chokecherry tree that now lives on in my carvings.

I am sure of this,  because as I was carving the wood from the dead chokecherry tree,

a little bird asserted it’s claim to sit upon the head of the kitty who is clearly the sister of the hugging bunny.

The kitty is quite happy to listen to all the little bird has to say about sunshine and  wind and rain and other stories the chokecherry tree still whispers of it’s days of bloom in spring, berries in summer and autumn and cold roots in winter.

Sometimes, a piece takes me totally by surprise.

I thought that this was going to be one thing and it turned out to be something totally different!

At first, after many many hours of carving the chokecherry wood, I thought that I had completely failed and that the spoon doll who was fighting me was destined to become firewood.

I tried to give up and go to bed, but no way, she wasn’t having any of that!

I could feel the wood trying to get me to see what was supposed to be happening, and I was drawn in, hour after hour, carving and carving and carving until finally at 3 am, I had an ‘aha’ and felt like I had gotten to where I was supposed to go with this spoon doll.

I jumped out of bed the next day, after not enough sleep, and immersed myself in this spoon doll, but this time, knowing what she was asking for.

She wanted me to see that she was a dreamer, dancing with the moon on her head.

Perhaps the chokecherry tree had loved feeling the touch of moonlight on it’s branches?

The spoon doll made it clear to me that she wanted NO embellishment, only to be allowed to shimmer in the light of the moon.

Okay.

I did, however, allow a little pearl to sneak into the photos. The Moon Dancing Dreamer was fine about it. Gracious, in fact.

I am utterly captivated by the joy (and challenges) of carving ‘raw’ upcycled wood that might have ended up at the land fill or simply being burned as firewood.

It’s alchemy to listen to the wood and let it lead me in transforming it in ways that surprise and delight me.

I look forward to continuing this adventure!

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Spoons carved at the end of December 2020 and beginning of January 2021

I have been happily carving more spoons…

I carved a large crochet hook with an owl on it few years ago.

I never used it as a crochet hook, so have turned it into an Owlie spoon….

I did the same thing with a large ‘Fairy Door’ crochet hook that I carved and then didn’t use:

 

This Cedar Star Sisterspoon  had an ooops-

I was tweaking her face and her head popped off! EEgads!

Luckily, I was able to rescue her 🙂 I just couldn’t throw her into the firewood pile after all the hours I spent lovingly carving her!

She will be wearing her blue sweater as long as she exists 🙂

I love this little Goddess spoon that I carved from a blank that my son made for me from a birch log from a dead tree in their neighbour’s yard.

I love having her in my pocket and carrying her around like a friendly pebble. 

I carved the Forest Gratitude Spoon as a song of thanks to all the trees and all that do for for us, but even more for them for just being perfectly arboreally themselves.

I love the trees….

My son cut me a lovely piece of wood from what he thinks is Manitoba Maple. 

This is what I do to get started with my carving:  I draw on the blank piece of wood and sketch in a way that takes into account the checks and splits in the wood.

This one piece of wood has 2 spoons in it…. The Forest Gratitude Spoon, and another one that I am hard at work on, and will show you later when it’s done.

I also made myself some leather thumb protectors after I skewered my thumb with a very sharp pointy rasp.

Ow.

All in all, a fine week’s carving, with a few spoons that became firewood, and one that didn’t and happiness in the ones that are now prompting me to make a shelf for them…

So much fun.

I hope that you are having lovely times, too. 

Happy New Year ❤

 

 

 

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Carving Wooden Spoons is delightful

Oh my goodness! Carving wooden spoons is just wonderful!

Hard work, yes. but…. ohhhh….

At Solstice of December 2020, I cajoled my husband to let me open an intriguing package instead of waiting until Christmas.

He said yes, and I was off down the most wonderful ‘Rabbit Hole’!

He had bought me a spoon carving kit that has a book, a Slodj knife and a hooked knife as well as a bass wood spoon blank.  Here’s the link to the kit from Lee Valley (no affiliations, no profit in sharing the link, but I love their store and hope that they live long and prosper): LINK 

The picture above is the first spoon I carved…. for our grandson.

My husband loved it, so I secretly carved one for him for Christmas, too.

I asked my family if they would like spoons, and the response was an enthusiastic yes!

So…

and

And, then….

I couldn’t resist combining one of my other great delights, which is carving wooden dolls, with spoon carving.

The inspiration that poured out kept me out of bed for a couple of nights as I had to sit and draw and draw and draw

all the ideas that were just pouring out….

I have tied in a few metaphors that have been weaving their way around in my heart…

On Facebook, I learned about  stardust that has been discovered in Antarctica and then having a long time friend

sent me a poem about how the trees are full of stardust (as we all are) just enchanted me!

I am now carving what I call: ‘Storyteller Spoons’ – hand carved spoons that are meant to stir up STORIES, not soup.

After, stories are food for the Soul 🙂

Oooh!  I had to carve a Star Baby spoon from walnut:

And, I have started a series of ‘Stardust Sisters Spoons’- articulated dolls with moving arms,

This one is carved from a blank that my son made for me from a birch tree that died and was cut down

in his neighbor’s yard:

I carved this Stardust Sister from the bass wood blank that came with the kit:

I love the metaphor of hearts and hands working together, so I went back to

the drawings that I did for the first scoop that I carved for my daughter.

But, I added a hand to the spoon, and carved out a bowl in the palm of the hand

as well as in the scoop of the heart.

While I was carving it, it came to me that spoons are meant to gather things,

but also to offer them, which is the perfect metaphor for this spoon:

I will be working with Hearts and Hands together a whole lot!

I made a video showing some of the carving that I have done over the last 30 odd years,

as well as the very very first beginnings of getting started in spoon carving.

These are just the first spoons that I have carved, and now that I have worked out

a pattern language for myself with this, there will be many, many more!

(I hope!)  😀

And, I hope that you are finding things that bring you joy, too!

Be kind, be safe, be well! ❤

Here’s the video:

 

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How to make buttons from twigs and branches

I love making one of a kind wooden buttons from twigs and branches that I find on the ground.

It’s a great eco-friendly project that is upcycling at its best.

They are a great way of embellishing hand woven, knitted, or crocheted fabric, or to make a sewn garment or accessory even more special.

You don’t have to have a woodworking shop full of power tools to make lovely wooden buttons- a few simple  hand tools are all that are necessary.

Here is the video that I made, showing how to make 3 different kinds of buttons from the same twig.

I hope that you will have a wonderful time making your own unique buttons:

 

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6th Sense One of a Kind Art Dolls

For many months, I have been working really hard on new mixed media fiber art sculptures.

The 6th Sense is intuition/inspiration/imagination.

These one of a kind art dolls are based on dreams, memories, meditations and contemplations and are an invitation to embrace creativity, healing and wholeness.

They are a combination of tapestry weaving, narrow band weaving, lucet cords, tatting, knitting, wood work wire work and leather work.

Here’s a slide show video of my 6th Sense One of a Kind Art dolls.

Most of the 6th Sense One of a Kind Art Dolls in the video are for sale, but some of them have already sold and gone to live in their new homes.

 

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How to Carve a Weaving Hook from a Chopstick

I use weaving hooks in all kinds of weaving- everything from potholder looms and frame looms to triangle looms, and a fair few looms in between.

Crochet hooks are okay for some weaving, but they can be too short and too round for some weaving.

I have found that making weaving hooks from chopsticks is quick, easy and very satisfying. It’s a great way to upcycle.

Chopstick weaving hooks are longer than crochet hooks (afghan hooks can be hard to find) and are flatter, and work beautifully.

weaving-hook-from-chopstick

You can customize your weaving hook to be the absolute bees knees by fine tuning it with a little sanding or whittling as you work with it.

Here is a step by step ‘how to’ video tutorial that shows you how you can easily carve or whittle your own perfect weaving hook with just a few simple tools:

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A Very Tiny Doll Celebrates Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from very snowy and cold Western Canada.

Last night, we were heading out to our son and daughter-in-law’s home to join with many family and friends in celebrating Thanksgiving.

There were sounds of protest from the Wall Doll House in my studio.

thallie-at-thanksgiving-dinner-1-c

The smallest (less than an inch tall) wooden Story Door Doll, who used to be known as ‘Itty’, until she declared her name is actually, ‘Thallie’ was sitting in her armchair.

She’s thrilled that she finally has a new dress, and declared that it was important to her to go out to dinner to show it off.

I  protested that I don’t like taking her out of the house, for fear of loosing her.

She ‘pshawed’ me, and reminded me that I am perfectly capable of loosing MUCH larger things than her INSIDE the house.

Oh. Right…

She hopped into the Thumbelina traveling tin:

thallie-at-thanksgiving-dinner-1a-c

But I was planning on taking along the ~very last~ bit of weaving for the big tapestry that I am weaving, and not Thumbelina.

So, Thallie hopped into my seashell necklace, along with her friend, Inch Faery Bear, who is the same petite size as her.  This makes them the best of friends, as they enjoy hanging out with someone who understands the world in miniature.

thallie-at-thanksgiving-dinner-2-c

And, off we went.

After the toasts were ‘clink clinked’, Thallie was convinced that there were Similar Sized People as her and Inch Faery Bear hiding in the corks…. so we shall have to see.

The corks came home in my pocket, so it will be interesting to see if there are little people in them or, as my daughter suggested, little faery mushrooms…. who knows?

thallie-at-thanksgiving-dinner-3-c

After the corks were filed in my pocket, I put Thallie back into the Seashell necklace….

and…. palm to forehead….

did not take even one more photo of the whole evening.

Oh my…..

Which I wish I had, as a beloved member of the family is on her way to London, England.

She’s moving there, so it’s going to be quite some time before we are all around the same dinner table.

We wish her the greatest of joy in her big adventure!

Pauline is accompanying her in her travels, and posed for a very Canadian moment before dealing with airports etc:

pauline-goes-to-london-3-c

Pauline’s Human took a moment from enjoying her last ‘Timmie’ time to share a pic of this special moment.

(Only Canadians will understand this reference, I think?)

Anyhow, all the little wooden folk who live in the studio join my in wishing you a joyous Thanksgiving, even if you live somewhere else in the world.  There is so much to say thank you for….

Thank you~~ ❤

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