I have been dabbling in spoon carving for almost a year, after my husband and father gifted me a few tools last Christmas. There have been some hiccups along the way, such as a hefty slice in the palm of my hand, a stab with a gouge to my finger (both of which induced regret for handing me sharp tools in my dear husband), and stubborn lumber that broke midway. After injuring my hand pretty badly, I quickly learned the necessity of patience and put the adage “look before you leap” (rather, “look before you carve”) into practice.
Through the learning process, there have been very few times that I have been totally satisfied with a completed spoon, as I’ve always seen the possibility for improvement. Since high school, when I dabbled in ceramics and sculptural art, I’ve been my biggest critic and have a hard time settling for something that doesn’t meet the expectations I set out to complete. However, wood is a different beast and cannot be controlled and manipulated into shape as easily as clay. A tree grows its own ways, developing an individual grain pattern that cannot be simply changed by a slice with my knife. Although I do utilize a bandsaw and occasionally a sander, I mostly use hand tools to carve. Learning to go with the flow of the grain rather than constantly fight against it and being okay with imperfections has been crucial for me when carving spoons.
For this past Christmas, I wanted to gift some hand carved goods to my family. In order to do so I put my self-criticism aside and handed out some of my favorite spoons, even though I can still see where they could have been better. I carved the chopsticks and cutting board with Christmas and the recipients in mind. I pulled out one of the first spoons I carved and finished it with a good dose of oil. The rest I made within the past few months with lumber I have been holding on to. I still have a plethora to learn and am eager to do so which is why I’m hoping to spend more time woodworking this year to experiment with new designs and woodcarving techniques.