Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spoons Again

Today I met with the owner of a small art gallery here in town, the Gallery 101 in Collinsville, CT.  We discussed him carrying my spoons, and he likes the idea.  I donated all the spoons I had to the Timber Framer's Guild for their auction in Virginia at the Eastern Conference (and they went nicely, which felt very good), so I had to carve out some more to take in today.  Carving that Birch is always so much easier than I remember, since I don't get my hands on it too often.  It really feels like butter after all the Maple I use, even though I carve it green.  I finished up three to show him, he liked them, so I came home and got started on a batch.  Some eating spoons, a serving shovel, and a small bowled tasting spoon done from a crook.  The Cherry spoon I started carving this morning out of a piece of firewood waiting for someone, and also finished roughing this evening.

You might notice my bench in the background instead of a log or grass.  I've moved back inside for my woodworking.  It's been getting a tad chilly (though incredibly warm for the time of year), but more importantly it's dark so early I can't sit outside and carve without a light. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spoon Club

I don't really like to repost others' blogs, but I really like this post so I'm going to go ahead and do it.  Barn the spoon has a great blog, he's one of my top spoonspirations.  I am really drawn to his philosophy on what spoons are all about, in a simple and literal sense as well as what they stand for as a symbol.  He posted this drawing up the other day and I totally dig it.

I also really like the idea of people coming together and spending some time together unplugged, enjoying some manually engaging activity that leaves the mind free to socialize with those around.  In the aftermath of the Halloween weekend storm we were without internet here in my house for two weeks, and frankly I quite enjoyed it.  I went over to the library every couple of days to maintain my email, and beyond that I didn't miss the urge to aimlessly waste time surfing the internet because I couldn't come up with anything better to do.  Sitting at home in the evenings we spent much more time talking, goofing around with one another, and doing some slightly more active and productive things (vs the more passive and unproductive things like watching movies, surfing the net, etc).  I really appreciate technology, and it constantly amazes me to think that in my own mother's lifetime microwaves were invented, and that my great grandmother would get summertime treats of icecubes from the horse drawn ice carriage in NYC during the great depression, less than 100 years ago.  In the span of less than half a lifetime we have gone from a computer taking up an entire office building to fitting in the palm of our hands, with ten times the capability.  As a communication tool the internet is entirely unparalleled in the history of the world.  However, as with any tool, it's all about how we use it.  It's very easy to get sucked into letting technology substitute for more concrete activities, crafts, and even interactions between people.  I find that I must remain vigilant, and even then I sometimes find myself zoned out staring at a screen with my brain and body less active than if I were asleep.

I suppose this is all more or less to say that I think this is a cool poster and a cool idea.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birch Find

For those not near me geographically, I'll note that we had an apocalyptic snow storm Halloween weekend here in CT that resulted in a lot of trees coming down.  In the last three weeks I've seen plenty of people loading up wood laying on the side of the road for firewood, most of it is free for the taking.  The other day I was driving around and noticed some Birch on the side of a small back road, but I didn't have time to stop and collect it.  Today on my way home I did have time, so I quickly sectioned the larger branch pieces into three foot lengths with my folding saw, and found one larger log piece hiding in there too.  The rest of the larger pieces were taken for firewood, I assume.  If I get to use all of this before it gets too dry, it'll make a lot of spoons!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

TFG Eastern Conference

I realize that I haven't posted anything recently, part of that is due to not having internet at the house for the last two weeks due to the freak Halloween weekend snow storm here in CT.  Part of it is due to the fact that I am running out of original topics to post on.  I've carved a bunch of spoons, carved and fitted a couple of axe handles, and done some other misc woodworking.  But this is all stuff that I've posted on before, and how many spoons does everyone really want to look at?

Last weekend I took a road trip with a couple of friends down to Leesburg, Virginia for the Timber Framer's Guild Eastern Conference.  This is an annual event that brings together hundreds of timber framers, enthusiasts, and businesses for a weekend of learning and socializing.  This was my first conference, and I was not disappointed.  Not only was the venue very good, thought a bit confusing, but the entire event was everything that it is reported to be.  Most importantly, incredibly fun and educational.  I understand that in years past, this event has attracted upwards of 800 participants.  This year's event was a relatively modest 200+ participants, but it still felt like quite the gathering to me.

I attended a number of lectures including Vicco Von Voss's presentations on joining natural edged timbers and theory of craftsmanship in furniture and timber frames.  I also attended John Libby's presentation on the history of his company and some key pointers for running any business, but naturally geared toward timber frame companies.

Mez Welch demonstrating hewing in the front yard of the conference center.

Equally important and engaging were all of the hundreds of informal encounters I had at meals and in the halls, discussing anything from philosophy to the best joint under tension.

An entertaining aspect of the weekend was Fire Tower Engineering's joint buster, in which they tested several joints joining two pieces of wood orthogonally under tension.  It was interesting to see, in real time, how much force it took to break various joints from butted and screwed timbers to finely cut mortise and tenons.

All in all, it was a really great weekend.  Well worth the admission price and the 9 hour drive each way.

In other news, here's a before and after of the deck that I've been working on.  This one is wrapped up and we're moving on to the next job.