Hobbies: Whittling {Wood Carving}

A couple of sunday’s ago I decided that it would be a perfectly great way to spend my Sunday learning to carve a wooden spoon. So from 10-3pm I joined several other people in what turned out to be a really enjoyable day with something that vaguely resembled a wooden spoon at the end of it. The above photo was what we all started off with some ‘blank’ silver birch green wood. I learned many things about wood that morning and green wood is deemed wood that is still living as opposed to wood that is fully dried out. Next is the very sharp whittling knife that is in a sheath and the last knife you get to use is a curve knife which helps you to round out your wood. 

Lottie our expert whittler (this is what wood carving is called) had set out examples of spoons she already made in a blue peter style and the beeswax we would use at the end. 

I think it was safe to say that by 10.30am I was feeling it was hopeless and that I would never manage to carve anything out of my blank. Why? Well let’s say on this Sunday morning I got properly schooled on the art of slowing right down. Wood carving as we all found out is a very slow process. And I certainly am used to things being achieved a lot quicker so it was a very rude wake up call. By the time we stopped for a coffee break I had accepted that wood carving takes time and I would need to get over my need for things to happen quickly. To be fair after a tea and cookie I gave in and went with the flow. The minute I did it seemed to be a lot more easier and enjoyable. 

After a lot of time, I mean hours I finally managed to get something that sort of resembled a wooden spoon. I realise I won’t win any awards but that’s ok I know the time that went into making my spoon. Well rather big spoon as you can see. The carving knife I mentioned at the start was what I used to carve out the spoon part. After spending hours getting used to using the knife using small movements the curve knife was super difficult to use. I didn’t find a rhythm with it for some time but once I did it all seemed to come together.

I wanted to show you in the photo above just how much little bits of the wood  you carve off. This certainly takes time but after a while you get into the groove so to speak nothing else matters. I had two knots (parts that could have had branches but have been cut off) on either side of where my spoon would narrow in which took the longest time to get them smooth. But ohhhh the satisfaction when I did was amazing.

Once you had used sand paper to smooth out your spoon (who knew you had different strengths of sand paper) there was the option to engrave your spoon using pyrography (wood burning pen) I did these random free hand designs – again I know I won’t win any prizes but when you have spent 6 hours with only 2 quick brakes you too would feel proud of what you had accomplished having never done any wood carving before.

The final step when I could no longer feel my fingers (its hard going on your thumb) I rubbed in beeswax to bring up the wood and give it the finishing touch. It along with the wood was such a wonderfully natural smell. 

I loved this Sunday, I went to bed feeling very pleased with myself and have subsequently used my large wooden spoon for cooking and it’s fared very well. I love if you haven’t already guessed learning new things and this is something that I will do on my own going forward. 

One word of warning, using knife is super dangerous so our safety was always paramount and we were shown the proper techniques and how to always leave your knife safely. Even though there were a few cuts during the day. Thankfully I wasn’t one of them but it sure does make you aware of how careful you need to be when using a knife.

I spent this wonderful day at Bohemia in Edinburgh and they run courses like this frequently just check out there website to find out. It’s a fun thing to do.

Poppytails.x

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