I was not anchored to a house or farm, but could follow the bent of my genius, which is a very crooked one, every moment.Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I can’t seem to locate my genius, but I have been finding some nice bent branches lately. I love roaming along the river and through pockets of woods this time of year. The deer ticks are frozen and the leafless branches have revealed their forms.
Between some heavy snow load in early winter and a trimming operation along the railroad tracks, there have been treasures to find. I carry a little folding saw in my backpack in the chance that I may find one or two to bring home for spoons or a bird bowl. The one pictured above is hawthorn.
I prefer to split crooks with my froe. Once the froe is driven into the end of the branch, the leverage provides a huge advantage to pop it open.
The two in the photo above (with a post-walk Chip napping in the background) are border privet. It is very fine grained and makes nice spoons. An invasive species here, it grows tangled and thick in areas beside the river. Crawling along deer trails is sometimes the only way through it.
Above, the blank has been split out and cleaned up with axe and adze, ready for more axe work.
I always split along the pith. The “bottom” half is normally unusable, containing the remainder of the broken branch that led to the crookedness to begin with, but I can sometimes split the upper half again to get two blanks, or more on a rare occasion. Sometimes I get really lucky as with the maple branch above from a couple weeks ago. The piece in the back was just under the piece in the foreground.
Here’s the split surface still untouched along the back side. We’ll see this again when it’s finished.
Keep your eyes open. Some of those spoon shapes don’t stick around long.