I am grateful to have a dedicated workshop in our basement. It's a great place to both work on projects, and store tools and materials. And while my shop time is super important, there are a few things even more precious to me. Like my family.
So, I'm interested in learning more about some smaller wood projects that I can do in the evenings during family time. Projects like carving, whittling, and other non-furniture making projects that I can do while we watch a movie or reading time in the common areas.
So, I hit up Craigslist, and found this older model Workmate for a mere $10. And, in an afternoon, I turned it into a portable space to get creative and start making some chips... no noise or sawdust required.
Look, I love making furniture. I love sourcing the materials, planning out parts, and executing the joinery. But lately, I find myself increasingly drawn to the "other" things you can do with wood. What are the smaller, craft level projects that show off the beauty of working with natural materials, but can be completed in a weekend, or even a single sitting?
We love a full-on major woodworking project. It's ambitious, challenging, and, once you've figured everything out, you're left with a piece of furniture that will get used everyday.
But, building furniture is also time consuming, takes up lots of space, and if you're using all hardwood construction, can be expensive to source the right materials. So, while it's lovely to learn joinery and finishing techniques, sometimes, you need a woodworking project that can be completed in a single day. Better yet, in a single sitting.
Valentine's Day isn't exactly around the corner, but it's close enough that if you want to make a handmade gift (and if you can, you should) then now is the time to get cracking. And I don't know about you, but to me nothing seems to say "true love" quite like a hand-carved, anatomically-correct human heart. Well except maybe for this.
In most kitchens, including mine, wooden spoons are treated as more of an ingredient than an investment piece of cookware. Sure, we hop to get a year or two of meals out of them, but they get burned, or stained with wine or beets or turmeric and the wood gets all fuzzy and we toss them after some use and then
In contrast to the rough, stainable, and seemingly disposable wooden spoons you can snag at the discount store for $6.99 for a three-pack, a hand-carved, hardwood spoon is a practical, heirloom item that can be used and cherished for generations. But, because they do take time to create, a hand-carved wooden spoon can be pricey.
Which is why you should make one yourself.
The work of Ohio-based artist and designer Josh Finkle ambles beautifully between the digital and the physical, the sketch, the prototype, and the manufactured product. He created these stunning hardwood toys of extinct animals, using a variety of wood species to add color and detail. He captured the creation process
Each Halloween season, I allow myself one 'cool pumpkin carving' post. I've been collecting ideas all month, and they've just been sitting there at the end of my tabs list, hoping to be chosen.
Then, this morning, I saw the work of sculptor Ray Villafane, and I closed them all.
How does one achieve such an Easter egg? Fancy laser cutters? Computer controlled carving machines? Ancient, secret Easten European techniques that are only known by, like, six living people?
Nope, just a pattern and some patience. Which means you can do it too.
We don't think carving a turkey is an essential man skill, with grandpa (who didn't have anything to do with the planning or cooking of the meal) standing at the head of the table, steeling his knife and taking all the credit.
Nope, we thinking that properly carving a turkey is an essential people skill, and the best way to take advantage of all the hard work that went into cooking it.
NPR's All Tech Considered blog takes a look at Noel Dickover, a hobbyist pumpkin carving master, who's created some amazingly detailed Star Wars themed jack-o-lanterns. "For Halloween and Star Wars geeks alike, it's truly a harmonic convergence of awesomeness."
As Noel says, "There's a difference between carving a pattern on a pumpkin, and a pumpkin sculpt. In the case of R2-D2, or the Deathstar, for instance, the pumpkin "is" the object, not just a portrait. So in thinking about carving R2-D2, I absolutely had to have a fairly tall, completely cylindrical looking pumpkin. I found one that weighed in at right around 40 lbs. Without this, there's no way I could have gotten the detail I was looking for."
Sometime around the late 80s and early 90s, the Halloween scene got knocked on its head. Publishers released pumpkin carving pattern-and-tool books, and jack-o-lanterns went from simple triangle-based faces to full on cackling witches and haunted house scenes.
And we are all thankful...except in the fifteen years that followed, every home started using these patterns, making these newer more complex scenes just as ubiquitous as their predecessors.
Thankfully, in the last few years, DIY stencil creation has gone through a revolution of sorts, and you can now create detailed custom pieces without need to buy a book at all.
Artist Dimitri Tsykalov has carved this juicy and creepy series of skulls from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Whether the images point out the results of the wasteful attitude we take towards food, the evils of the factory farming system, or its just that the freshness makes them look crazy scary...we're frightened.
Plenty of artists use pencils to create their work. And so does Dalton Ghetti...but rather than spreading the graphite all over a piece of paper, he slowly etches it away, until a tiny sculpture remains.
Some of Dalton's work can take as long as two-and-a-half years, and understandably so.
More photos after the jump!
Diem Chau is quite an accomplished artist, working in media such as ceramic and silk thread, porcelin bowls and toothpicks, and... crayons. But rather than scraping them waxily across construction paper, she carves them into the likeness of people and animals.
Most recently, she's tackled the signs of the Chinese Zodiac, a twelve-year cycle that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes.
From Diem's "About" page: "Chau combines common mediums and common means to create delicate vignettes of fleeting memory, gesture and form, resulting in works that combine egalitarian sensibility and minimalist restraint. Her work touches on the value of Storytelling, Myths and its ability to connect us to each other through cultural and humanistic similarities. Chau's current work drifts into new territory by exploring the periphery of the narrative, moments forgotten and faded, or too brief to retain."
Whittling \ˈhwit-liŋ, ˈwit-; ˈhwi-təl-iŋ, ˈwi-\ trans. verb.
a. to pare or cut off chips from the surface of (wood) with a knife.
b. to shape or form by so paring or cutting
c. One of those cool old school dude things that should totally come back into fashion.
Knife wielder Kyle Stetz offers some tips on the gentlemanly craft of yore: wood whittling.