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Knife, Wood, Spoon

“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut

spoon

let there be spoons

I’m beginning to see the shining light of these encouraging words as I stumble forward on my new journey. The momentum has taken over and I have no choice but to follow my self like a moth to the light. I might be cut and bleed but I won’t be burnt by that to which I’m drawn.

My past year has been relatively quiet on the blogging front as other interests have successfully lessened my screen time. That is not to say that I didn’t often think about writing about what I was doing. No, it just didn’t feel right, yet. Now is that time.

spoon

handmade woodness

I have always been into wood. Wood feels good. Either I was carving walking sticks or a bit of relief carving and I knew and felt that that was something I should become more serious about, but never did. Other things occupied my life and a long while elapsed without wood. Then a couple of years ago I got into it again with an evening sculpting course. I loved that and recognized a new like, however sculpting didn’t have the hook nor I the talent I wanted to combine and my enthusiasm wore and then waned.

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my first ugly duckling spoon

It was through the various Youtube channels and whatnot that I one day came across a spoon. A simple wooden spoon. Someone had made it and that someone demonstrated how to make one. I can do that I thought to myself and before I knew it I had laboriously and rather in-expertly crafted my first functional wooden. It was Magnolia wood, wasn’t pretty but it was usable.

A few months passed and I began to collect bits of wood, larger pieces, branches and log sections as I read up on and watch this or that youtube clip on how to work green wood into usable things. This new spark of curiosity caught and had begun to glow warm. And it’s heat increased my desire to learn more, try more and do this.

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early efforts and means

As with first steps for any venture I soon learned what would help me along and soon fell head over heals in love with Swedish steel and touted wizards of wickedly sharp blades. MoraGransfors Bruk, Svante Djarv and Hans Karlsson now make up my Swedish heavy metal team. A truly special bit of hardware comes from Wales by the one and only Nic Westermann who forges superbly crafted bowl blades among other edged goodness.

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basic joy & happiness kit

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Nic Westermann TWCA cam and Finishing blade goodness

It took a little while to finetune my desired kit, discover my direction and learn what it meant to feel the passion but I think I’m on the right track. Wood simply makes me feel good.

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warped and twisted lessons

And it is confirmed every time I spend time making chips, making a mistake, creating something beautiful, seeing a form develop, smelling the sweet near almond like smell of fresh cherry wood or the scent of apple when roughing out new spoon blanks. It is an intoxicating endeavour.

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coffee sips get cold when making chips

Seems every waking moment is filled with only thoughts of wood, where to get it, what to do with it and spending time doing just that. It’s a happy thing and I’m thankful for feeling that way. Joy is in the simple things.

spoon

vivid juniper surprise

At this point of the journey I’m not as skilled as I want to be but I’m on my sloyd way. Sundry wood stock is stacked in the shop, metal edges honed to this side of fear, the good wood releases new forms that function and chips are flying.

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pear spirit sipper

Wood is good. May your hands be strong and your blades wicked sharp.

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Of Cups & Cakes or How the Professional does it

I am not a baker, nor am I scientific in my thinking and therefore baking being semi scientific in approach, I do not bake much, at all.

I like, nay I appreciate the occasional sweet home baked delight and prefer them over their store bought counterparts on any given day. Yesterday I had the opportunity to fully appreciate the complexity and joy of building a refreshing lime/coconut bit of sweetness. I had a pro come over and replicate their chosen recipe. I lent the occasional hand/help  around the periphery and even managed to learn a thing or two about the super sweet world of cup cakery.

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coconut lime cup cakes mid production

One thing that the unsuspecting cup cake making novice such as myself soon discovers is that those tasty suckers aren’t all that cheap. I spent nearly $50 on the ingredients for this session and while I could do another go round with some of them, I’d have to go a replenish the ones that professional and I used up during the initial session. I still am not sure why I still have so much icing in the fridge but I am certain that I’ll double up on the coconut content for the last recipe. I must also admit to arriving at a better understanding as to profit margins in the resale aspect of some of the more indulgent recipes; $3.oo per cup cake oughta cover that part nicely.

The professional and I tore at, measured in, whipped, scooped, slashed at, extracted from, finely slivered, frothed, spooned, mixed with, levelled this, diced that, mounded this, beat that some more, gave that a good squeeze, cut, chopped up, folded into, soured, poured and scraped various ingredients that made up the little cakes. I nearly abused the lime and vanilla bean bits savagely while more buttery sweetness was beat into submission by the professional. I could tell that the professional had done this before.

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… first half was excellent too

And then after sweating it out while the first batch of delicately citrus flavored cakes were baking, the resultant delight proved to be just the delectable treat that had fired our imaginations since reading the recipe.

It had not gone so well had it not been for the professional, you know who you are. Thanks kindly.

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Until only one remained

The Kitchen – The Work Shop

The Kitchen – It is either a place to throw together some good old KD, nuke something in the microwave or an inspired cook’s workshop where sumptuous meals are created and always the place where mouthwatering aromas emanate, kicking endorphins into overdrive.

The kitchen ‘is’ the households’ central nerve centre. Its importance ranks before any other room in the house, be it the living room, the adjoining dinning room, master bedroom or the bathrooms.

Well, ok, even though I religiously avoided it for the first 20 or so years of my life, I’ve come to love working in the kitchen. Pretty much any kitchen too.

I love what the kitchen stands for. It means good food, great company and a wee bit too much wine with dinner. If you’re not broke, like to try new things, don’t eat out or order in a lot, your kitchen represents the ultimate horn of plenty. In this temple to things that taste good I must meet at least two daily deadlines; sometimes at the drop of a hat.

At it’s stations, countless delectable culinary creations are cobbled together, new recipes are born and mistakes quietly or humiliatingly and in-front of suddenly mean looking dinner guests slipped into the rubbish bin before reaching for a nearby phone.

While I admit that I don’t prepare cookbook recipes the same way twice and promulgate improvisation to be very alive and kicking in this kitchen, the same daring and at time cunning manipulation of ingredients inevitably gets the better of me when I try my ham-fisted mitts at baking.

Disaster always lurks when I attempt this science like discipline, something I had little interest for in school. Lucky for me my ‘better half’ handles that oven trick with the greatest of ease, much to my bellies delight.

Consider that the kitchen as we know it got its start as bit of fire in a hole in the ground. As long as there is fire i.e. gas range, barbeque or fire pit, a creative or suddenly challenged cook is capable of producing roughly the same result as a chef styling away in a grandiosely appointed kitchen.

And who doesn’t dream of that magazine cover version of the home kitchen? Not being one able to boast about any skill or much experience in the renovation field, the kitchen is very likely the only room of a house that I would even consider remodeling or sinking some serious coin into but…

The Work Shop – When you compare kitchens to wood workshops and avid cooks to equally avid woodworkers, it is not at all surprising that the obsessive natures of these enthusiasts are pretty much identical. If I had a well-appointed woodwork shop I’d probably argue long and hard to have it situated right next to the kitchen. These creative spaces share much in common. For one, they share the same humble beginnings in the mists of time.

Let me illustrate. We already know what the modern kitchen evolved from and thus it’s no great leap to consider that the modern woodwork shop started millions of years ago as a pointy chunk of rock.

Depending on your skill levels and the quality of your chosen tools, the cook or a woodworker can conjure up some heavenly and amazing feasts or blunder along to another obviously rough and borderline useful bird housing project, whacked together with so many too big nails.

Consider for a moment the matter of aromas of cooking foods and the fragrances of raw woods. Spices and cooking aromas drift from the kitchen through the house while the pungent scents of exotic woods fills the workshop during various processes that shape the end result.

From custom cutting boards or work tables, rolling pins using rare woods to hand carved wooden spoons’, is it any surprise that these objects fashioned in the workshop end up in the kitchen?

Then there is the little matter of tools’n things; read gadgets.
Something that will probably go on for as long as man survives on this blue marble is trying to satisfy his unending need for tools. You can never have too many tools in these arenas of production. And the suppliers of fine utensils and tools are all to keenly aware of this.

Offer up a new tool or utensil and rabid cooks and crafts persons alike snap it up, before its real purpose is even revealed. It looks neat and you don’t yet own one of them.

Just think about it. How many tools, utensils or gadgets claim storage space in your kitchen/workshop? The ones you ‘never ever’ use, the ones that you will never ever use. Ever. A handful at least. A rack or wall full in the extreme cases of ‘need-one-of-eachitis’.

I could go on, escalating the simple function of these spaces, spiraling out of control as I try to keep up with the latest offerings of the innumerable glossy magazines that cater to glassy eyed people like me. But I’m getting off right here.

Got to go stir the soup with that certain wooden spoon (sorry, I didn’t make that one), however I did build that soup in that food related work shop.