Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yet Another Lettered Lovespoon

Here is a Lettered Lovespoon that I just completed for a young couple who is getting married in late June.  Like most of my other Lovespoons, it is an original design carved from the traditional Lovespoon material, Basswood.

I try to follow a couple of personal “design rules” when I’m commissioned to carve a Lettered Lovespoon.  There’s no real good reason for these rules, you understand, they’re just my rules. 

Rule #1: The Lady’s initial goes on top, the Gentleman’s on the bottom.

Rule #2: The letters are *always* linked together.  Come on, this *is* a Lovespoon after all and a couple should be…well…linked together like the letters.

The letters always have a way of telling me how *they* want to displayed on the spoon.  Because the grain of the wood runs the length of the spoon, wide letters, like the “R” in this case, are often a problem in that they need a lot of extra support to keep their ends from just snapping off, either during the carving process or handling before the spoon is hung on the wall.  I took advantage of the width of the heart-shaped bowl to provide support for the “R”.
Having said that, however, because the tips of the “S” and the “R” stick out with very little “meat” to anchor them, the spoon will be best served hung well out of plate-throwing range.  :--)

When I attempted to hook the “S” into the “R” (per my rules), the arrangement just didn’t work for me visually because everything seemed to be squashed together at the bottom of the spoon leaving the top of the handle looking more than just a bit little naked. 

After some playing around on paper, I finally decided to include a set of interlocked wedding rings between the two initials.  Wedding rings are a common Lovespoon adornment but not one I had used before.  Using the rings -- locked into the “R” and into the “S” -- allowed me to slide the “S” up the handle for a more balanced look.  Everything is still interlocked so in my mind, at least, I haven’t violated my design rules.

I am pleased that I was able to make the handle disappear behind the two rings without jeopardizing the overall structural integrity of the spoon.

As soon as I began carving, I realized how much right-over-left-over-right-over-left there was going on around the rings.  This was a tough spoon to carve!  In retrospect, I think that I should have spread everything out just a bit more. 

A long time ago I started using Sanding Sealer rather than varnish or shellac on spoons, because IMHO, it seems to make a harder finish and, in the case of the basswood, adds some color.  I used 3 coats of sealer (sanding with 220 sandpaper between coats) followed by buffing with #0000 steel wool and a good coat of paste wax.  The finish came out wonderfully smooth.

My spoon and my best wishes go out to the soon to be “Mr. and Mrs.”!

'Til next time...Keep makin' Chips

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Ventures

I am getting ready to embark on a new venture…well, really TWO new ventures. 

Venture #1: 

If you look back through my postings about a year, you will see that I carved what I feel is a “more than passable” wooden replica of an 1884, Springfield 45-70 “Trapdoor” Rifle. It is hanging on the wall in the family room but for some time I have thought that I’d like to make some sort of a companion piece for it.  What I *didn’t* want to carve was a duplicate of the Colt Peacemaker cap gun carried by every young Buckaroo of the wild and wooly 1950s, myself included.

 So after much searching, I have finally selected my victim…err, I mean subject…to carve.  A Remington 1861 Cap and Ball Revolver. 

 Loyal readers…and I think/hope I have a couple… know that I spend a lot of time “Googling around” looking for images that I think will make good carvings.  As it turns out, the 1861 Remington is a *very* popular firearm among collectors and the web is just loaded with resulting really good photos to use as a “Go Bys”.  This shot is typical. 

The major problem is getting scaling information.  But some collectors have graciously agreed to make and send the critical measurements to me.  Given these “benchmarks”, I think I can just scale everything else off the photos.

As you might surmise, woodcarvings *look* nice but they are *amazingly* fragile.  So to avoid having to tell grandchildren…and not just a few adults:-)…not to handle the gun, I plan to display the gun in a box with a glass cover.  You can look but you can’t touch! 

My original thought was to make a pristine, velvet-lined walnut *presentation* style case -- but after seeing this picture, I think that the *well used* carrying case, complete with oil-stained and tattered instruction sheet seems much more appropriate.  So that is what I am going to do.  Note: the revolver in the case is a Colt of about the same vintage.  It is nice, but I think that the Remington is “Waaaay Cooler”.

Venture #2

I am going to try to make this an "interactive"…if that is the right word…project.  Unlike the rifle, I’m going to try to take interim photos and I intend to post periodic updates on the progress.   That is my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

‘Til next time…Keep Makin’ Chips