Mr The Creature, Barn, and Letters

Strange title, but bear with me.

Challenged with carving one of the coolest nicknames ever onto a spoon handle, I tried something new to sketch ideas before carving.

Normally, I work out some ideas in my sketchbook after tracing the shape of the spoon handle a few times on a page. Then I redraw directly onto the spoon handle once the spacing and idea has been worked out. On the one above, I carved the letters through the painted surface.

This time, I put a piece of masking tape onto the handle, pressing it firmly against the edges to reveal the form of the handle clearly. I sketched an idea onto the tape, learned some things, pulled the tape off and stuck another piece on. I think I ended up with seven tape sketches before arriving at the final design. The handle surface beneath the tape was still clean with no smeared pencil marks from the many design attempts.

You might be able to just leave the tape in place and carve through it, but at this scale it may have been a bit cumbersome. I tried just rubbing the back of the tape with pencil to transfer, but the stickiness of the tape held on to the graphite too tightly. Instead, I stuck a piece of graphite transfer paper to the back, then returned the tape to the handle.

I traced the letters on the tape with a pencil again to make the transfer onto the wood. The transfer is a little sketchy, but it’s more than enough to direct the carving.

Then I carved them.

The spoon/scoop, scoopy spoon, is now in the hands of a skilled craftsperson and wonderful guy called “Mr The Creature,” although his parents named him Martin Hazell.

And while I’m on the subject of talented people with great nicknames, congratulations is in order:

It was recently announced that Barn the Spoon is the 2020 Wille Sundqvist and Bill Coperthwate Slöjd Fellowship recipient. I’ve been fortunate to spend some time with Barn and he is one of those people you can never get enough of. Barn continues to inspire many would-be carvers and is an expert and devoted teacher. He has carved thousands of spoons and his skill is mesmerizing. You can read more about the Slöjd Fellowship and Barn’s unique story in the announcement below:

Barn and his team are the creators of an invaluable online resource, Spoonclub, for anyone interested in spoon carving.

I’ll wrap this up with a video from 2019 in which Barn and I talk about lettering with the knife:

This entry was posted in Lettering, Persons, spoons, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Mr The Creature, Barn, and Letters

  1. Thanks for new idea of letter transfer. as of today i am starting a new West Virginia design to add to my spoon design collection and the transfer of small letters is always a chore. Gene


  2. Arnold says:

    Just read his book.

    I enjoyed it very much.

    Some useful ideas about spoon carving.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob Easton says:

    Using tape is a great idea: keeps the surface free of pencil marks which are often hard to remove. Thanks for the idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great idea. Did you consider leaving the tape on and carving through it? Or would it stick and curl and not really work? I sometimes spray-glue paper to the wood and carve through it. I like the spoon!


    • Dave Fisher says:

      I think it would work fine at a larger scale, but I think it might have been a little hard to manage for these small letters. Worth a try sometime, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dave Polaschek says:

        I was wondering the same. A kolrosing knife seems to be able to cut through the tape if you’re looking to transfer fine lines. I need a lot more work to have results I’m happy with that way, but especially for open-grained woods where the powder used for the kolrosing can fill every available grain, masking tape might actually be a plus…

        More experimentation is needed.


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