Not All Those Who Wander…


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

img_0713“Let’s see where this road goes,” my dad would  say as he turned the car onto an unknown route.  We’d wander around back roads, unencumbered by any sweetly demanding GPS voice.  We would see old farms that were new to us, and stop to look down into an unknown stream.  I often assumed we were completely lost. Yet we always, magically it seemed, found the way home, richer from the adventure.

I know that’s a long way from Middle-earth, and Tolkien’s verse has a much deeper and broader meaning.  Still,  when I focus on that second line, riding around as a kid with my dad is a memory that comes to mind.  I also think of Thoreau and his ideas about “sauntering” in his essay Walking.  Tolkien and Thoreau knew, and my dad knows, that there is much to be gained from what may seem to be aimless wandering, and exploration extends to realms beyond a walk or a drive.

I thought the free flowing form of this cherry bowl shared a bit of the same spirit.  When it came to designing the lettering, I did my wandering on paper.  There, I can play with different ideas while marking and erasing freely.  After I’ve worked things out, I can redraw the idea onto the wood.  Sometimes, I’ll experiment with ideas by drawing directly on the wood before paring the final surface.  I can take a photo of the design, surface the bowl, then redraw the lettering using the photo as a reminder.


Navigating the curly figure with carving tools was certainly an adventure.  This vertical grain blank came from the central area of a log — to one side of the pith.  The bowl is 21 inches long, 8 1/2 inches wide, and just under 2 inches high.


For this bowl, I found it best to do the lettering while holding the bowl in one hand and the pocket knife in the other, as can be seen in the second photo near the top of the post.  Raking light helps to see edges and facets clearly when working.


While on the subject of lettering, I want to include another lettered bowl I completed recently in this post.


This walnut bowl represents the second time I’ve used the same Robert Frost verse, this time on a 20 1/2″ x 12 3/8″ elliptical ring.


As with the cherry bowl, I used the pen knife to cut these letters, but I found it best to secure the bowl with a couple holdfasts to enable me to use both hands.


I’ve written several other posts that relate to lettering.  Just look under “lettering” in the category list on the right side.



This entry was posted in cherry, holding, Lettering, quotes and excerpts, Uncategorized, walnut and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Not All Those Who Wander…

  1. The whole process from the quote, the carving, and the calligraphy is just pure beauty.
    I hope you take satisfaction in the work you produce, because we do.


  2. Tico Vogt says:

    Really beautiful work.


  3. Eric Goodson says:

    Mind-blowing lettering, as always. And with a freaking pocket knife. Love the changing width of the lines on this new one. They really range freely over the surface…


  4. B. J. Parker says:

    Dave, you’re work always inspires me. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carsten Nakinge says:

    amazing work

    Liked by 1 person

  6. George says:

    Precision artistry — magnificent work. Solvitur Ambulando – It is solved by walking!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jonathan says:

    Beautiful bowls and lettering. Also, congratulations on the back cover of FWW for April.


  8. Pingback: Here There Be Dragons... also magic

  9. Scott says:

    Always amazed. Beautiful work!


  10. Pingback: Wander to Wonder | David Fisher, Carving Explorations

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s