My wood carving journey started, if anything can ever truly be said to start at one point, about eleven years ago, right around th’ time our first son was born. I was working in a tea packaging warehouse in Portland, Oregon. Working full time in such an industrial environment contrasting with having a newborn, and the newness of life, was disturbing to me. I thought about how and where a child would most like to grow up, to be a kid. A city is a harsh place for a kid. There’s no freedom to just go outside and wander around, like I did when I was growing up. I thought about th’ woods of East Texas, where I grew up- how they sheltered me, how they raised me. I started reading lots of Native American books at this time too. I came across a book about Ishi- that did it. I quit my job and we moved back to Colorado to be near family. I started making bows and arrows. I was fascinated by all th’ things Ishi and his people made. I wanted to make something substantial, something more than just music and writing, which was the extent of my creative outlet at th’ time. I wanted to make something I could hold and use. And I wanted to start from th’ ground up. I learned about wood. I found trees and I cut them down and I turned them into bows. Some of them even worked, though admittedly most didn’t, but it was enough to keep me going. I learned about drying and storing wood. I learned how to read th’ weather patterns in th’ growth rings. I learned about other cultures who also made bows and arrows. Th’ trip took me all around th’ world and all through history. I finally landed in Viking era Scandinavia. Our son had grown and me and Beth had learned all kinds of traditional skills.
One day Beth was looking at a Viking reenactment website. It was late at night and we had our laptop lying on th’ living room floor, in the only spot we could get an internet signal. It showed up some nights like a pirate radio station, and if our computer was in just th’ right spot, and th’ wind blew just so, we could browse th’ web. I looked over her shoulder and saw a picture of a wooden plate, and a wooden spoon. They were obviously handmade, and they were beautiful. I saw them, and something clicked inside me. I went into my shop (garage) and came back out a few hours later with a wooden spoon. I still have it and use it to this day. It was made from the end of a broken bow, with’ th’ nock being th’ tip of th’ handle. I used an axe, a rasp and a file, and hollowed out th’ bowl with a piece of flint. I kolrosed it with a sharp leather working awl. I shaped it to fit my hand. It was beautiful, it was ugly. But it was th’ beginning of a journey I’m still on today.
Thousands of spoons later, and I’m still carving. I’ve gained much more knowledge and practice time, but th’ magic of th’ spoon still remains, is even more mysterious, in a way. Something so simple, so useful that nearly everyone on th’ planet uses one, so commonplace it’s almost not even worth mentioning. I mean, who talks about their spoons? And yet it’s something that we all have in common. It’s a bond that reaches across time and space and culture and belief. Nah, it’s just a piece of wood.
Click on th’ From th’ Woods link if you’d like to own a piece of wood with my stamp on it, and you can check out my instagram feed on th’ side to see wooden pieces in use, and being made. What kind of things do you like to make?