We continue our Finding Your Flow series with a video that takes you into the meditative sounds and sight of the Spooncarver. The video is a visual exploration of MFS Green Woodworker Instructor Dawson Moore crafting a paper birch spoon.
Enhancing your Smile!
-Thomas was carving a spoon to give as a gift. While engrossed in the carving he slipped and accidentally cut his hand. His, not so bright brother-in-law, ran over and grabbed the bloody wound with his fingers and started twisting it. Thomas screamed “Ouch!! What are you doing!” The bother-in-law replied, “I’m applying a turn-a-cut”
-I recently took up wood carving, and accidentally cut my finger. It’s nothing serious. It’s just a whittle cut.
History of the Spooncarver
They’re practical. They have a rich cultural history. They can last forever! Wooden spoons have been made in virtually every nation on earth and reflect the life of the ordinary person.
Wooden spoons have a very long history. We know that ever before they were recored in the books of history they were being made as an essential tool for the family. Ancient Egypt first recorded creation of the wooden spoon more than one thousand years before Jesus Christ. The bible speaks about the creation of spoons as a directive from God, “You shall make its dishes and its pans and its spoons and its bowls with which to pour offerings…” Exodus 25.29. The Vikings were known for their decorated spoons using a technique called kolrosing where a pattern is carved in the spoon with a knife. Then charcoal or coal dust was rubbed into the lines to accentuate the pattern and make them “pop.” It wasn’t until the 15th century that metal spoons began to replace the wooden variety. Yet, for the average person wooden spoons were still the main tool of the kitchen and a well made spoon was loved well and passed down in the family. Wooden spoons carved from maple wood were some of the cherished items found among the wreckage of Henry VIII’s Mary Rose warship (1511-1545). Listed in the inventories of the the Mayflower, which set sail in 1620, were wooden spoons destine to become part of our American heritage. Wooden eating and cooking implements were some of the items Algonquian tribes traded with those early settlers. Since the moment of its invention, the wooden spoon has been integral to an impressive variety of cultural traditions across the world.
The versatility and durability of a wooden spoon has stood the test of time. Today wooden spoons are still used with great frequency and is an important item in every kitchens. Wooden spoons don’t chemically react with acidic foods, or scratch pots and bowls. They don’t melt or leach chemicals or strange tastes into hot foods. Cared for well, they can last beyond a lifetime.
Today spoon carving has become a craft of people all over the world looking to create something functional, beautiful and simple. The craft requires few tools and can be performed almost anywhere. With a good hatchet axe, saw, bent knife, and a straight knife, this craft can be performed almost anywhere. The craft makes minimal, but soothing, noise, wood chips not dust, and utilizes freely scavenged timber.
The Spooncarver Finds Flow
Just as physical exercise or playing music is known to bebeneficial for our mental health, so is being creative with our hands. The physical and mental health benefits which spoon carving offers is often underestimated. In a state of Flow, as one’s attention heightens, the slower and energy-expensive extrinsic system is swapped out for the far faster and more efficient processing of the subconscious, intrinsic system. Further, parts of the brain that we use to critique ourselves begins to fade enabling a true creativity unencumbered by self-judgement. During this time the positive energy flow captured in our mind, fostered through focus, begin to release endorphins that enables our mind and body to release deep pleasurable sensations akin to a cathartic experience.
Words from Dawson Moore, MFS Greenwood Carving Teacher
“I like working with wood straight from the source. Everything begins with splitting pieces from a freshly cut log. I work with simple hand tools so that I can get as much tactile feedback from the material as possible. It allows me to follow the fibers and gain an intimate knowledge of the functional strengths and weaknesses of the wood. It is an unmediated experience balancing the perfection of the natural material, collective knowledge, and personal skill. I like to make functional objects that embody that process and hopefully allow others to sense its magic.”
Dawson Moore, 2020
-“I've realized you can use a fork as a spoon if you use it rapidly enough.” (John Mayer)
-“The rule in carving holds good as to criticism; never cut with a knife what you can cut with a spoon.” (Charles Buxton)
“Do not try to bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead…only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon.” (The Matrix)
Long bent chisel used used for scooping out the spoon cup.
Chest Lever Grip
Specific way to hols the knife and wood pie4ce useing your upper chest and back to apply pressure.
Adding more control and dexterity too many knife operations by gripping the knife far up on the handle and sometimes even on the blade.
Wood that has been recently cut and therefore has not had an opportunity to season (dry) by evaporation of the internal moisture.
A quick adjusting cramping device that has a leg passing through a hole in the bench top, holding work in the middle of the bench where it is not possible to use clamps
Tool used to carve and smooth the hollow cavity for wooden bowls, spoons, ladles and other necessities.
A Scandinavian based handcraft movement and educational system that seeks to guide a person’s focus to build the character, encouraging good behavior, greater intelligence, and industriousness.
A spoon mule is a foot activated clamping mechanism that allows quick and easy work holding options while carving spoons.
A razor-sharp, short bladed knife used for general carving, chip carving, whittling, & other specialty wood carving uses.
Here is a shower thought, ”When I see lovers' names carved in a tree, I don't think it's sweet. I just think it's surprising how many people bring a knife on a date.”