A Bird in the Hand


I’ll be thrilled one day if I ever convince a chickadee to eat from my hand.  Until then, this little guy will have to do.  I carved him from a small maple crook, and learned the difficulties of carving small.  My hand always seemed to be in the way!

Still, it was worth it.  Little guys like these are a fun way to make a bowl from a very small branch crook — and good for holding rings on a nightstand or maybe even something on a dining table like salt… or a grape!  And I can picture several resting in the branches of a Christmas tree.


The photo above provides some more perspective.  The little bird is sitting in a cherry bowl that will soon be donated for a local fundraising event.  The cherry bowl is 19 inches long, while the bird is 4 1/2 inches long, 1 3/4″ wide, and 1 3/4″ high at the tail.


A little bird like this could be made from a straight bit of branch, but crooks often have some lovely figure like this (above).  Also, the flow of the fibers of the crook allows for the tail to be delicately proportioned, yet strong, as it lifts up from the body.


For now, this guy might make a good decoy to give the chickadees confidence.  I’m imagining a moment worthy of St. Francis or Ace Ventura.

This entry was posted in bird bowls, bowls, cherry, nature, proportions, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to A Bird in the Hand

  1. Gerry says:

    David: I have had a chickadee eat out of my hand (black oiled sunflower seeds). It is a humbling experience. What you are not prepared for is that they are so light. I held the seeds in my open hand up and away from my body and it took about 5 minutes before one brave bird landed grabbed a couple and flew away.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a lovely piece of carving!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cynthamum says:

    Beautiful little chickadee 🎶

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So far, the only time I really got my thumb good with the hook knife is when I was trying to carve a spoon for friends who just had a baby. For me, small = dangerous. Katie will just have to keep weaving baby blankets.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Emil says:

    Hi Dave.

    I have been super busy with school, and have not been able to allocate much time to my carving. I have one small privet spoon almost complete that has been waiting for a while. I noticed I also found the small blank hard to hold and make good cuts with the proper grips you showed me. In frustration I have thought to myself, “Is this little spoon really worth it?”

    One of the biggest take aways from my weekend learning from you was the cool carvings hiding in small branches. It could be a spoon or a small bowl. It doesn’t matter how large or small, it’s the form that captures ones imagination. You remind me to appreciate the little things in life, and remember that even the small things can be worth the trouble.

    Cool bird bowl!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks, Emil. Well expressed; I appreciate your insights and experience. Some situations require some adjustment to those grasps, which makes it all the more satisfying when your creative problem solving works out!


  6. Scott Thomas says:

    Proof positive that something doesn’t have to be bigger to be better. This is good inspiration for hand held carving when I just want to sit and relax on the back porch. Thank you.
    Is the wood maple?


    • Scott Thomas says:

      When I went back to read again, I see that you did say it is maple. Sometimes reading, like carving requires attention to detail. Thanks


  7. francedozois says:

    blow on it and see if it flies?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. sartorius2015 says:

    Wonderful little piece Dave. The 4 of us on the Emil Milan Research Team saw Emil’s work in the head shot, the first photo. Not to worry, we see Emil in everything. I see a series here varying the bowl width and the tail length, other woods. Great piece, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks for the wonderful compliment and the encouragement, Norm. Also, thanks for the reminder regarding the Emil Milan project that you and your colleagues have been working on. A timely reminder at that; I see that tomorrow is a big day https://www.emilmilan.org/ I have little knowledge myself of Emil’s work and story, and I’m very much looking forward to learning more. Wishing all of you involved the best as your noble efforts begin to blossom.


  9. Bill Butman says:

    Hi Dave,
    Outstanding as usual.
    Bill B.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The outstanding thing for us in this piece (my daughter and I always discuss your posts) is in the proportions. We often see spoons or ladles with a similar form, but they often appear ungainly. In this case, as is often the case with your designs, what could be ungainly is always counterbalanced.

    For example, the squat shape of the bowl’s mouth is balanced out by the pointed beak (you can see this particularly well in the photo with the larger bowl). Or the flare at the end of the tail, which can often feel too wide, which is narrowed visually by the keel along top and bottom. Or the exactness of the keel line, which leads to the imperfect facets on the outside of the bowl. (And we noticed the ‘egg’ under this one, too.)

    It all adds up to a lovely, lovely thing, which just begs to be held. An excellent combination of craft and art, which is too often abandoned in this day and age.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Veronika says:

    This is so delicate and beautiful! Bird bowls sometimes seem too thick and heavy to me, but this is definitely not the case. You have a great gift for the right proportions.
    Talking about carving small… Once I tried to carve a miniature spoon, just about 1 inch long. I remember I had to invent completely new techniques for it. And I had to use the smallest scorp for hollowing because all carving gouges were too huge 🙂 Small things are sometimes unexpectedly complicated!


  12. onerubbersoul says:

    Just beautiful? Is it for sale? Has it flown the coup already?


  13. John Matheson says:

    Have I noticed a generality in your proportioning? Based on the width: twice as long, half as high? I am “bowled” over by your mastery of this form.


  14. Dave Fisher says:

    Thank you, John. I don’t consciously think about those proportions, I just do what seems to look best to me. And, by the nature of working with logs and branches, I only have so much say anyway. For example, I think the height may tend to be half the width because I have to split circular branches and logs into half and the width of the piece tends to be in line with the split. The tree is smarter than me!

    Thanks, too, for the pun. I hope to use that, over and over, at carving demonstrations.


  15. hiscarpentry says:

    I absolutely love this Dave. Beautiful. I have yet to carve a bird bowl, something this size isn’t as intimidating. (As far as time involved.) I look forward to seeing you at Pinewoods in June.


  16. Dave Fisher says:

    Thanks, Nathan. Looking forward to talking with you again this summer!


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