WHEN all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
— Charles Kingsley, Young and Old
Charles Kingsley’s simple wonderful lines of youthful optimism were running through my mind as I carved this cherry bowl. Whether one perceives it as a goose or a swan, I hope the same outlook is conveyed to an extent through this piece.
Of course, the tree itself played a large role in the design of this unique piece. I shared some of the early stages awhile back, but here is a little slideshow of some shots along the way:
Working with branch crotch wood like this has it’s challenges; the grain can do unexpected things. But it also has it’s rewards, such as the lovely subtle curl running up the neck that will improve with age as the color deepens. I decided to carefully shape and smooth the curves of the body and neck, contrasting with the bold texture of the tail and bowl hollow left from a hook knife.
It is 32 inches long (from beak to tail), 15 inches high, and 6 inches wide. Here is a slideshow of some additional photos of the finished bowl.
A piece of beauty and grace. As a brand new green woodworker, I am in awe of the quality if your work.
Quite lovely Dave and the poem fits beautifully
It’s very beautiful, even more impressive in the bowl though , is it’s timelessness, it could have been made a thousand years ago, and would still be stunning on a table in a thousand years
Absolutely gorgeous. The texture of the grain, the certainty of your shaping…just perfect. The difference between carving that looks exactly as it was intended versus carving that looks “close enough” is palpable. No doubt which side of the divide this piece falls on.
I know, it is not the best of all questions, but to get an idea of the patience and the practice such a lovely handcrafted object is filled with: How long do you work on a ‘swan’ like this (‘from tree to treasure’)?
I promise I’m not trying to avoid the question, but the work occurs in so many starts and stages that it is difficult to keep track of the time spent. I usually have a few projects going at once and jump between them depending on the drying stages, etc. Several weeks to several months go by between the time I begin and finish most pieces. Another factor that makes it difficult is the decision of how to factor in time spent doing things like walking and finding the right bit of tree…and thinking time. Especially with unique pieces like this, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the design as it progresses, revealing more of the material. Regardless of how much time I spend, I think one of the most important things to keep in mind is that the vast majority of my time is spent in the small refinements — making little shavings. The bulk is removed relatively easily and quickly. Most people would see a piece in progress, for example, and think it to be 3/4 of the way done, when in reality it might be 1/4 of the way done. I’ve also found that if I think about the time too much, there is pressure to cut corners. “As much time as it takes” is the way I approach it.
So, a long and winding, but accurate, sort-of-answer to your very valid question!
Thank you, Dave for that more of an answer than I’d have expected!
I’ve rarely (very rarely) heard from a woodworker what “working on one piece” really means. You describe the process and it’s twists and pauses – and that thinking through a project needs a lot of time. Good to hear it, even from such an eclectic artist like you are one. I am glad that you spend you potential in working wood – and share it with others.
What for me has come clear with the time, is what you name the “1/4 to 3/4”. – I’ve got a dozens of roughly carved stuff at home that I’ve never finished because it needs more time. And said that: needs (for me) another quality of time – time of deep concentration and mindfulness. On the other hand: Once reached that state of meditiation in work, time goes by without being counted ever.
Well expressed. Thanks. Many people I talk with have the dozens of roughly carved pieces around. You’re in good company!