Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jogge's Boxes

One of the wonderful parts of the recent course with Jogge was that he brought a bunch of his little boxes.  We got shots of a few, but many more went unphotographed, especially the ones for his tools.  They are charming, colorful and inventive.  His use of color is really interesting (especially on some unphotographed tool cases, were he used complex, muddy greens, something my art friends call "broken greens.")
Jogge's boxes really got me thinking--in fact, they have literally gotten me up in the middle of the night.  So, here are some pics of his boxes, and one that I made quickly to protect my new Nic Westermann twica cam.

First, a sweet little box with a swivel top and a small accompanying salt spoon 
Photo by Alex Jezerski

Next, a box for name cards in the shape of a book.
Photo by Alex Jezerski

Photo by Geoff Chapman

...and a detail of the wedge that keeps the lid from sliding out.

Finally, an amazing box for pencils and the like.  Love the coffin shape and the little Surolle face 
on the top.  The inscription taunts you.  It says something like "Only my heart is open", but opening it 
is a real trick...
Photo by Alex Jezerski
You can just make out the wedge on the end, which must come out first.  Once out, you can then remove
another wedge on the bottom.  This allows a pin to drop out of a hidden hole in the bottom that was locking
the lid in place.  Very clever.  Fooled me first time around.

One design note: Jogge's lids are wedge shaped.  This means there is relatively little friction as they start to
slide into place, and can be snugged up into the final position. 

Finally, here is my first take on a box for my new hook knife.  I used older birch, which was a mistake
as it had a little punky streak running through it.  That part cracked on drying.  I will use it until it breaks
and glue it back together.  Carving and paint to come...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jogge's Crew

A few weeks ago I had the great fortune to take a class with Swedish woodcarver Jogge Sundqvist at Lie Nielsen Toolworks in Warren, Maine.  For those who don't know about Jogge, he and his father Wille have had a tremendous influence on green woodworking in America, going well back through the 70s, when they started teaching classes in Swedish carving at Drew Langsner's Country Workshops.  Of course, Drew later got Peter Follansbee started in the field, who then went on to research and popularize seventeenth century joinery and carving techniques.  Peter also studied with the Sundqvists, and carves wonderful spoons himself.  Given the influence these three men have had over green woodworking in America, I felt truly blessed to have all three present in Maine.  Drew and his wife Louise joined us for the second day. The chance to ask questions and get to know these great craftsmen was a real eye opener, and has left my head spinning with ideas.

Another excellent part of this weekend is that I got to reconnect with Dave Fisher, an amazing bowl carver who I got to know a few years ago when he agreed to teach me some of his methods.  Since then we have stayed in contact, corresponding about woodworking and teaching (we both teach high school history.)  We signed up for the class together, and agreed that I would pick him up from Logan airport and we would drive north and camp out behind Lie Nielsen (when I asked the folks at Lie Nielsen if camping was OK, they said "not only is that OK, it is kinda awesome.")  What was also cool was that others would be camping out with us.  Ben Kirk, a great spoon carver from Maryland who I got to know last summer at Peter Follansbee's spooncarving course, was camping out at Lie Nielsen as well.  He also brought his lovely wife Chrissy (who puts up with an amazing amount of spoon talk with a smile)  and his friend (and bandmate) Ryan.  We had a great time kicking back in the evenings over beer and spoon talk.

I learned a lot during the class and in long conversations with Dave and Ben--too much to run through here.  With Jogge we carved spreaders and distaffs (for wooing women) and talked technique.  Jogge taught the basic grasps and helped me with my "can opener" and "cross thumb" motions.  I also learned a lot from Dave and Jogge about engraving, including advantages to different tool profiles, engraving grasps, and how to carve "uphill" and still get smooth results.  Again, too much to describe in one post.

Dave and I laughed at what slow progress we were making on our projects, too busy talking with great people to make much headway.  And those people were really what inspired me the most, beyond all the technique talk.  I got to talk with Masashi Kutsuwa, a Japanese woodworking professor who had flown in for this class and a pilgrimage to Dickinson Reach.  We spoke of Japanese craft and how green woodworking had started taking hold in the US.  I got to chat with Peter Lamb about his friend Bill Coperthwaite's wonderful experiment in living.  I never got to talk as much as I would have liked with Kenneth, a boat builder from Maine who was helping teach the class, or many of my classmates, most of whom seem to have been crafting in their various fields for more years than I have.  Such a wealth of knowledge...  That is what makes these courses truly great.  The people.

Photo by Colin Hayward

Jogge finished his class with a summary of the "four walls" of craft that bound and shape our work: material, tools, people and tradition.  I certainly felt the importance of "people" on my craft this weekend.  A few days later, one of my classmates, William MacIntrye, posted a great question on our email list following the workshop: "I have been able to identify with all but one; the wall of tradition. Since we, as modern woodworking Americans, may not have knowledge to create objects such as the wooden spoon, knife, bowl, or distaff handed down from generation... How do we define our tradition? What object do we connect with if we haven't been around it our entire lives?"  His question really made me consider how important people like Jogge, Drew and Peter are for us, because in many ways, they are our tradition...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On Drying Oils, by Don Nalezyty

Many thanks to Lee Stoffer of Covert Crafts in the UK for filming Don's talk at Spoonfest on drying oils.  Really informative.  Lee also makes amazing spoons, and his chipcarving is extraordinary.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Spoon Design Kit

Got a great little parcel today from Don Nalezyty. He has come up with a nifty tool for laying out spoons.  The Spoon Design Kit is sort of a french curve for spoons, with various forms and shapes that you can trace to adjust your spoon designs. Everything from different bowl sizes to handle shapes to finials.  Even has one card for basketweave kolrosing and the like, and the whole bunch fits in your wallet.  I'm looking forward to giving it a go.

A deal at $15
For more info or to get yourself one, see his facebook page.