Limited edition spoons

Splitting open a log is always exciting for me. Everything I make starts with the log and that moment when I see it’s texture, how straight the grain is and its colour. The colours in this current piece of cherry timber which I’m working is some the best I’ve ever had. Cherry is always beautiful with pinks intermingled in the heartwood and shown off by the contrasting cream sapwood. In addition, this cherry has a distinct green streak through it as well as gorgeous flecking.
Currently, I have the following spoons available from this special timber:

Carved wooden eating spoon
Cherry tasting spoon 1
£35 Sold
Carved wooden eating spoon
Cherry tasting spoon 2
Sold
Carved wooden scoops
Cherry scoop
£18 Small Buy Now Button

Unfortunately, it’s in limited supply so all of the spoons I carve from it will be limited editions. Once it’s finished, I’ve some good sycamore to start which I’m sure will have it’s own beauty, but not these amazing colours.

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A set of individual wooden spoons

Everything I make is unique. Even when items are made to a pattern, the fact that they’re individually made means that each piece is slightly different. Like people.

These wooden eating spoons are based on a Gallician spoon and a design by my friend Robin Wood who asked if I would make this set of six as a commission.

The client wanted the spoons to be easily identifiable and we discussed various methods of subtly marking them. In the end though, as you can see, the gorgeous colours in the grain of this cherry wood have done the job better than we ever could have.

There’s just a little more of this wood left so I’ll be making some more work from it while it lasts. Keep watching here to see the new work.

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Scything rushes in Scotland

Scythe course in Scotland
I’m just back from a fantastic trip up to Ullapool in the Highlands of NW Scotland where I was invited to teach a Learn to Scythe course by the Crofting Federation. The scythe is perfect for crofters who are often managing smaller areas of steep, wet or inaccessible land with limited resources.

Learn to scythe Scotland Learn to scythe Scotland

The participants included people from as far away as Skye and Glasgow as well as locals. It was fascinating for me to hear about their different crofting situations and admire their dedication to farming in difficult conditions.

Learn to Scythe with me on my scythe courses in Cumbria and Lancashire or contact me to arrange a workshop at your own venue. I’m happy to travel and would love a trip back to Scotland.
Learn to scythe Scotland

The weather was fantastic for us and I managed to spend a couple more days in the area walking in the mountains and enjoying the fabulous scenery.
Learn to scythe Scotland Learn to scythe Ullapool

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Fan bird carving course in Co Durham

Last week I was invited up to County Durham to teach a fan bird course for beginners as part of the Auckland Castle project.

I really enjoy teaching this course, it’s a great mix of careful carving with chisels, gouges and knives working up to the moment when we fold out the feathers to create the wings.

Fan bird carving workshop Fan bird carving course

The concentration in the room is super high and there’s not a small amount of tension as well, especially for me as I want everyone to succeed.
Making a wooden fan bird Folding wings on a fan bird

All our hard work paid off in the end though and everyone went home with fantastic wooden birds and lots of new skills as well.
Fan bird carving workshop Fan bird carving course

If you’d like to learn to make these beautiful birds yourself, I’m teaching several more fan bird courses this summer. Please contact the organisors directly to book your place:

 

 

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Learning axe & knife skills for spoon carving

Spoon carving course
I spent the weekend at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire teaching a spoon carving course to six lovely folk.

My courses always focus on teaching carving skills and we build these up at the same time as making wooden spoons. Everyone goes home with spoons to show off and use but, more importantly they learn techniques and confidence to continue using carving axes and carving knives after the course.

We start by splitting a log and then axing out a spoon shape. I’m always impressed by how quickly people improve in their confidence and accuracy with the axes. Safety is key, brilliant demonstrations of safe hand positions here.
Spoon carving axework Spoon carving workshop Learning to axe a wooden spoon

Then we start to carve using the straight and hooked knives. I want spoon carving to be an accessible hobby so I select the best tools to reflect this which work well and are within people’s budget. We work through different knife grips, all the time refining the spoon as we go. Check out that beautiful long shaving that Alison is making as she carves long, clean facets on the handle, easy to do with good technique.
Spoon carving knife grip Spoon carving Frost knife Spoon carving hook knife

This was a two day course which means we can look more deeply at the skills and work on more carving complicated eating spoons as well. Here are Callum‘s spoons, great shapes and finish.
Learn to carve spoons

If you’d like to learn to carve wooden spoons, check out my other course dates. I am planning some workshops in Manchester for 2017, subscribe to my newsletter to be first to hear about dates.

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A happy customer

Nothing makes me happier than to make craft and then hear from its new owner.
I recently sent one of my ash splint wall baskets to Marc in Germany who was kind enough to send me this lovely message:

Dear Steve,
I would like to let you know that your package arrived today. The basket even exceeds my expectations. Love it!
I really appreciate your personal note and, of course, the cute little spoon.
What could be better than buying beautiful items and thus at the same time supporting an independent maker.
Keep up the great work!
A happy customer

I have lots of craft of my own that I’ve bought from other makers and reminds me of them or the story of acquiring it when I use them. The pleasure they bring in this way is more that just from having beautiful, well-made items, it’s a connection between people.

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Spoon carving straight from the tree

This weekend I had a lovely day in Lancashire teaching spoon carving to a group of friends. As I got set up, our hosts David & Melanie explained that they’d just had a cherry tree felled on their property. There were several clean lengths so I suggested we use that timber for the course to add a personal touch to the work.
Spoon carving wood Cherry is a great choice for carving wooden spoon and our pieces split beautifully with the froe, giving lots of billets ready for axing.
Splitting wood with froe for spoons

Some spoon carving courses start with a pre-prepared blank bandsawn from a plank but I think this misses out a lot of what it is about. Learning how to use an axe to carve is a really valuable skill and, under tuition, my students rapidly gain confidence and accuracy so they can quickly shape wood. It also means they have gone through the whole process from the raw material and can carry on their new hobby using green wood sourced from the garden, parks department or local woodland.
Spoon carving with axe Axing wooden spoons

Then on to carving with the straight and hooked Swedish Mora knives. We practised four different carving techniques, using them at the same time to quickly refine the spoon. I have altered my process this year which I was pleased to see gave improved results in the finished spoons.
Spoon carving course Using a hooked knife

I know lots of brilliant female woodworkers but unfortunately it often still seems to be thought of as a male occupation so it was great to have so many women on the course. I loved the contrast of the painted nails, sharp tools and natural materials.
Hollowing a spoon bowl Axing a wooden spoon

We had time for carving some decorative finials on the end of the handles and the only hard part was knowing when to stop!
Spoon carving Carving spoon finials

A fun day with lots of chat, laughter and a delicious lunch. I was very impressed with their spoons, particularly for their elegant shapes and smooth, unsanded finish.
Carved greenwood spoons

If you would like to learn to carve spoons straight from the tree, I will be teaching several other courses this year, have a look at my courses page for dates. If you have a group and would like me to come and teach a similar day for you, please send me an email for details: stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com

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Ash splint wall baskets

ash splint wall baskets
These wall baskets are one of my favourite to make. They’re based on baskets which the Shaker communities made to store tall candles in and they’re still useful for that same reason. They make a sylish, contemporary decoration in their own right and ideal for storing all kinds of things around the house: stationery, earbuds and usb cables, makeup, scarves and anything else you want to keep tidy yet accessible.

This pair of baskets demonstrate why I don’t use forms to shape my baskets but shape them instead by eye and experience. Though they’re definitely a pair, each basket has it’s own shape and character which makes it unique and special.
ash splint wall baskets

For these two I also wanted to show you the variation of hanger placement. With the hanger inside the basket hangs flat to the wall while with the hanger on the outside, the basket tips very slightly forward. Each variation gives a different detail in the rim lashing too. I can’t decide which I like most.
ash splint wall baskets

Each basket is made from English pounded ash and measures 8″ wide x 4.5″ deep x 7″ tall to the rim, approx. P&P is £4.50

ash splint wall basket
Ash splint wall basket, outside hanger.
Sold
ash splint wall basket
Ash splint wall basket, inside hanger.
£80 Small Buy Now Button
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Making an ash splint pack basket

Ash splint pack basket
This week I’ve been working on a new ash splint pack basket commission and took a few photos along the way to show the process.

The weaving is a very simple over-one, under-one weave – all the emphasis is on matching the weight of the weavers and altering the tension to create the correct shape.
ash splint basket weaving

As the weaving continues, I let it dry and pack down the weavers. As it dries, the ash splint shrinks so without this packing, the weave would be loose and weak.
ash splint basket making

Once the desired height is reached, I trim the uprights and split them so they can be turned down and tucked into the weavers to lock them in place.
ash splint basket making

Here is the shape I want, a full-bellied basket with a tight base and short straight section up to the rim, all achieved by changing the tension in the weaving.
ash splint basketry

The next stage is to carve and steam bend a wooden grab handle for the top of the basket. With small pieces like this, I heat them over a pan with a cloth to hold the heat on the wood and then bend it around a simple wooden former.
Steaming wood for bending steam bent ash basket handle

An inner and outer rim are fitted and the handle notched into the inner rim. With long, thin splints, I lash the rims and handle tightly in place.
lashing an ash splint basket rim

Finally, leather carry straps are attached along with a pair of splint ‘feet’ which protect the leather when the basket is on the ground. I’m proud to use UK-made leather and brass buckles which set off the ash splint beautifully.
Ash splint pack basket

Strong and lightweight, ash splint is a beautiful material which makes elegant and stylish baskets. My pack baskets are individually made to order and are priced at £425. If you are interested in discussing a commission, please email me for more details stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com
As well as pack baskets, I currently have a few other ash splint baskets for sale.

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Ash splint baskets for sale

ost of my ash splint baskets are made to order, particularly the large pack baskets but I currently have the following baskets for sale. P&P is just £4.50.
My baskets are individually handmade from pounded english ash making each one unique. If you are interested in commissioning a basket, please email me stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com.

Ash splint basket, hazel rim with bark on, steambent ash wood handle.
6″ to rim, round opening 7″x7″
Sold
Ash splint basket, hazel rim with bark on, steambent ash wood handle.
6″ to rim, oval opening 6.5″x4.5″
Sold
Ash splint basket, steambent ash wood handle.
6.5″ to rim, round opening 8″x8″
£90Small Buy Now Button
Ash splint shopping basket.
10.5″ to rim, opening 16.5″x9.5″
  Sold
Ash splint wall basket, steambent ash hanger.
7″ to rim, opening 7″x4.5″
Sold
Ash splint table basket, steambent ash ear handles.
4″ to rim, opening 12″x12″
Sold
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