Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spike Trolls

Scandinavian culture has long embraced woodworking. This makes sense, seeing as it's an area rich with lumber and the high-quality steel with which to shape it. From the Swedish Dala Horse and the beautiful medival stave churches of Norway, to the legendary Viking dragon-ships, the Swedish, Norse, and Finnish people, as well as the native Sami and Laplanders, really know wood.

The spiktrollet (literally: carved troll), or spike troll, as I've roughly anglicised it, is Norwegian. Norway's departments of Culture and Forestry came together with this design in order to promote the tradition of whittling. The spiktrollet is offered as an entry-level carving, simple enough for a beginner to make from any small branch.

As always, green wood carves more quickly, but dry wood can also make a great troll. I like to finish them with a Sharpie face and a painted hat. For clothing they wear their natural bark.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Craft Fair Victory!

The craft fair was a success. And fun, too. Jen and I set up our little table around 10am, and covered it with horses, spoons, pendants, pins, and trolls.

People's eyes really lit up when they spotted my table full goodies, but mostly they seemed drawn to the little army of spike trolls. I sold a few heart pendants too, but the spike trolls were the overwhelming favorites. We spent the day at our table, talking with curious people, visiting with the other vendors, and I personally made a mess of woodchips while carving some new trolls and hearts.

Though the horses and spoons didn't sell, they got some nice compliments, and I can put them up for sale on my etsy shop. I guess I'm now known to some as the spike troll guy. It's funny how the easiest, quickest, and cheapest to make carving, is also the most popular seller. Cool. Time to make some more!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hearts and Crafts 2

This Sunday, May 23rd, is the second Hearts and Crafts Indie Craft Market! It'll be at Java's coffee house at 16 Gibbs street in Rochester. I'll be there from 11:00am - 5:00pm, slingin' my whittlins. Plus there will be loads of other vendors, including my friends Peter Lazarski, Mike Turzanski, and Evinn & Jenelle Neadow. Come on down!

I've carved a few spoons and other things to add to my inventory. Here's a sneak peek:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tools of the Whittler's Trade

Knives. Sharp knives. A carving knife needs good edge geometry, good steel, and a solid handle. Most of all, its edge must be sharp as the dickens. The hairs of my left arm are the testing ground for all my blades.

Does it shave hair as effortlessly as a razor? If the answer is no, then the blade is not sharp enough for me to use. A sharp knife is a safe knife.

This knife shown here is the Mora 1241. The carbon steel blade is 2 3/4" long, 11/16" wide and .098" thick. It has a 4 inch handle painted red. The blade's geometry is a Scandinavian grind, or "Scandi." There is no secondary bevel. Not as strong as some other grinds due to it's thinness, I wouldn't use it for chopping, but a Scandi grind will really move wood. The lack of any crossguard allows for a variety of grips. A perfect carver's tool.

I ordered this one online at Ragweed Forge. For $10 it was an absolute steal.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Murphy's Rattle

Here's one I'm especially proud of. It was my first ball-in-cage carving, and also my first chain link. Two moving parts!

Step one: blank out a rough shape. I had originally planned for the chain link to look like a capital letter "M."

Here you can see the spokes beginning to form. The square shape on the left will become the chain link.

The ball breaks free within the cage. This is the most time-consuming part of the project. It can be tough to move the blade around between those spokes!

The chain link is now free. I cut the link in the shape of a shamrock (instead of a capital M)w/Murphy's birth date inscribed. Shamrocks are luckier and less pointy.

All done!. I left it unfinished except for the green shamrock (which I painted) The rest is plain, sanded, basswood. Early reports indicate that Murphy really digs his personalized rattle!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tex Mex Pepper Spoon

John's Tex Mex just had it's Cinco De Mayo party, and I hate to show up empty-handed. Here's the gift I made.

First I cut the piece to size with a coping saw, and carved out the bowl with my crooked knife.

The bulk of the carving was done with a Mora knife.

The carved and sanded spoon after a long soak in boiled linseed oil. This really brings out the grain. Compare with the above pic where the wood is almost white, and no grain is visible.

The final product, after adding some color with an acrylic wash. I decided to leave the largest "pepper" wood colored.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The First Cut

Welcome to Wonderful Whittlin'! Here we'll keep track of the progress of my latest work, bask in the glow of newly finished carvings, and stand together upon a shining mountain of wood chips to gaze into the very face of God.

Expectations are high.