Category Archives: Welsh Lovespoons

My experiences in carving Welsh Lovespoons

Twin Hearts

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an article mainly because of being mentally drained from excessive driving on one of the most congestive motorway systems in the world, Los Angeles, but that’s really no excuse, so having said that, I just need to dig in and post!

One of the latest carvings that I’ve embarked upon was a combination of designs that I had made for various people. I wanted to reuse some of the elements to provide the basis of this new lovespoon. In this particular design I had previously developed a twenty fifth wedding anniversary lovespoon that also had roses and hearts surrounding the pair of hearts. The center heart had the number twenty five carved internally so with that basic image I decided to eliminate quite a few of the elements to get back to basics to provide the foundation for this lovespoon.

Twin heart lovespoon.

One of the favorite elements for my lovespoons is a flame design that adorns the top, this adds an attractive end to the carving and also provides a way of displaying the carving by way of hanging it on the wall or in a cabinet, so with that in mind that was where I would start, that was a given.

The spoon end would be in a heart shape as this always carves nicely and gives a good balance to the flame at the opposite end. The Celtic theme would be displayed by the Celtic knotwork that would extend from the spoon bowl, leaving just the pair of hearts to nestle between the flame and the Celtic knotwork.

With the theme completely worked out, the tracing was transfered to the basswood blank ready to embark on carving out the shape. My first job is to drill each corner with a 1/16 inch drill bit so as to be able to fit the blade of my fret saw and to create a clean cut in those awkward areas.

I had given up with using a power fret saw a long time ago, much of the time was wasted on breaking blades and continually threading the blade into small areas. Most of my designs would amount to little sawing in a lot of areas so I’ve opted to using a manual fret saw. I find that during the process of cutting out the design I can work out in my mind how I will carve certain areas and how I will resolve any mishaps if they should occur.

With the blank set up in the woodworkers vise a steady sawing motion eventually cuts out the excess stock leaving just the outside shape to be cut on the bandsaw. With all the profile cut, now was the time to get comfortable and sit with carving gouges, chisels and sanding blocks around my oversize bench hook and carve away at the spoon bowl. Next would be the back of the spoon and then onto the Celtic knotwork. A methodical process that eventually takes that flat piece of timber and turns it into a three dimensional, visually pleasing piece of art.

The final process is to sand out as many imperfections as I can. This stage of the process equates to 50% of the time starting with coarse sandpaper and working through the different grits until the superfine paper is vitually polishing the wood. Continue reading Twin Hearts

Having Faith in Your Carving Ability

Mahogany Lovespoon representing Love and Faith

Over the past few weeks I have been busy working on establishing some new themes for my carvings but I have also been researching other people websites. My conclusion was that I found many Lovespoon carvings would follow a similiar theme regardless of where you look on the World Wide Web and I have looked at many websites for inspiration but I find many to be repeats of the same but with different levels of carving ability.

There are many that are only carved or have relief on the front face with the back face flat or only have the corners taken off to give some dimension. These Lovespoons I felt would look often mass produced but the prices are so reasonable that it would be very easy for the enthusiast to start a collection but is this a course that I would want to take.

Close-up of the cross set within the heart

For me to try and establish myself as a carver of some sort, especially with Welsh Lovespoons most of the carvings that I make end up on eBay for auction and it is there that I try to gauge the feeling of how the design is perceived.

The amount of traffic or should I say small amount of traffic for this sort of carving is primarily from enthusiasts who are looking for a bargain and will frequently stop by. If the design is a success I would find six to eight watchers over the course of the auction and maybe six to eight bids at the end of the day, giving me a good sense of achievement. I like to think it is the quality of the carving and the unique design that sells the item and not purely the price but as we all know eBay is the site for bargains.

When I first started this type of carving I decided that both sides would have to have the same amount of detail so that the Lovespoon could be handled and not just be displayed on a board. It is only when it is handled that the true appreciation for the craftsmanship can be determined and the fact that it is hand carved, saying that it also brings the flaws closer to hand.

To determine the themes I have tried to align them with special holidays or occasions during the year such as Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and so on, that way I can focus on those particular elements that are relevant and meaningful. Continue reading Having Faith in Your Carving Ability

A Lovespoon for Spring Time

With Spring just around the corner the natural course for me would be to design a Lovespoon that represents those small details that we associate with that special time of year. The blossoming of the trees, birds vying for a mate and ourselves becoming more romantic on a daily basis. This Valentine’s day just past was the beginning as couples try to break from that wintery grip so what better than to share my thoughts on what I should carve.

For me living on the West Coast that wintery feel is only mild to what grips the rest of the country, so having said that, what should I offer in terms of elements for that special lovespoon? Continue reading A Lovespoon for Spring Time

Wedding Favor Lovespoons

As you have probably noticed during the course of reading my Welsh Lovespoon carvings, almost all have been made what I call normal size, that is, six inches or larger but recently I have had several enquiries as to whether I make wedding favor size lovespoons. Of course most of these emails are from people who have seen items that I have been selling on eBay and are genuinely interested in the carvings that I do and that is as far as it goes but after reading one particular email it first sent me into a panic. This was a firm enquiry about making Wedding Favor Lovespoons.

Normally, Wedding Favor Lovespoons are offered by the bride and groom to their guests as a memento of this special occasion and as a blessing on their marriage. It is a memento that helps to keep the bride and groom firmly in their guests mind and an item to remember them by in their prayers but how many guests will there be for this occasion? Continue reading Wedding Favor Lovespoons

Carving the Emblem

With the detailing of the heart and cross complete I am now ready to tackle the main feature of the Lovespoon, the emblem of the Priory of Sion. This is unique enough to be one of the focal points of this carving and the most intricate to get the detailing to stand out so while I have been carving the rest of the Lovespoon I have been thinking about the best way to approach this stage, which for me is an ideal approach. I can slowly work the details that I already know how I want them and casually work out the other details in the mean time.

My first goal was to offset the fleur-de-lis to the surrounding, by doing this it will allow me to carve a subtle shape giving it more dimension and a more lily like flower arrangement. Much of the carving for this is in the way of cutting on the detail line with a knife then chipping down with a micro chisel to gain some shape. The deeper the knife cut the more likelihood of chip out from the exposed end grain so at this stage I am being careful not to try and pry the chips out but making sure that it is cut away completely. Continue reading Carving the Emblem

Detailing the Da Vinci Lovespoon

With the spoon bowl carved out with my Sorby gouge, the back face of the bowl is then shaped with a regular wood chisel. I still use my Marples wood chisels from 30 years ago and they keep a good keen edge after sharpening. With good quality tools it only takes one purchase to last a lifetime and although I have bought cheaper tools in the past I have totally regretted the fact. You may save a few bucks initially but after a few uses I have been totally dismayed with the performance, so from my point of view, buy the best you can afford even if it’s one at a time. Continue reading Detailing the Da Vinci Lovespoon

Lovespoon Carving Da Vinci Style

In the previous post I had talked about and worked out all the element placement and now I’m at the stage where I have attached the sketch to the wooden blank. In this particular instance I’m going to use birch as the wood of choice as it has the elasticity to absorb the constant pressure of carving in delicate areas without cracking. I know it will not be the easiest wood to carve as it tends to have a pliable feel when carving, in contrast to that crisp feel of cutting mahogany or maple. With birch it always seems to have a little resistance before the shaving starts to curl off the carving tool regardless of how sharp the blade is. It gives the impression that the tool is dull and you’re constantly checking for sharpness.

Drilled pilot holes in wooden blank ready for the fret saw.

The first task in the development of any of my Lovespoons is to drill small pilot holes in all of the tight corners. This one procedure eliminates a lot of mishaps with the bandsaw, it reduces the chance of cutting into delicate parts of the design and adds a clean finish to the corners. For this design I used a couple of different size drill bits depending on the complexity of the area. For the heart I only needed a few holes so that the fret saw could be easily maneuvered around the inside of the shape, in contrast the rose needed many small holes to define the corners and present an easy way of controlling the fret saw.

As you can see from the design I have decided to remove material from both the inside of the heart and the inside of the cross making for a light delicate theme throughout. The spoon bowl has also been extended and like I said previously, by leaving these areas open it gave me the option to revisit them as the design formulated in my mind.

With all the pilot holes drilled, the next stage is to cut out the inner shape with a fret saw, for me I use a hand fret saw. The ease with which you can transfer from one area to the next is far easier than releasing the blade on a power fret saw and trying to relock without the blade snapping more than once during the course of cutting out the shape.

I will leave the outside intact until I have cut the inner shape first and by doing this it will eliminate crushing the delicate edges of the design and provide a sturdy grip in the vise. The one drawback from hand cutting is trying to keep the blade square to the line, this would be a problem if the carving was going to be one sided but in my case I always shape the back face as well. In one sided carving you would want the hole to be square through so that you would get the full benefit of the shape whereas I can resolve any issues when I shape the back face. The best way for a square edge in this case would be to use a power fret saw.

Cutting out the material for me always starts at the top, that way I have the majority of the spoon blank secured in the vise preventing any unwanted bending. I want the blade to be cutting with every stroke without the material flexing, that way I get a reasonably clean cutout. Continue reading Lovespoon Carving Da Vinci Style

Lovespoon Design Layout

In my previous post I had outlined all the elements that I thought would have the makings of a unique Welsh Lovespoon and now that I have placed the shapes onto paper I have decided to increased some of the dimensions so that it will flow a little better. As I said before I’ve left the heart and the cross intentionally open for further refinement until it is time to start cutting out the blank. This will give me plenty of opportunity to refine the design before cutting commences. Continue reading Lovespoon Design Layout

Da Vinci Code Lovespoon

Official emblem of the Priory of Sion

While reading the Da Vinci Code novel by Dan Brown this summer I was thoroughly intrigued by the many layers that were going on at the same time together with the various elements that came into play and being curious I decided to take the time to research the internet to see if any references could be made to any of these particular instances. I knew that this novel had caused a stir amongst the religious sectors due to speculations and misrepresentations said to be portrayed throughout this novel but the impression was enough to seek further reading.

I had a notion that I could design a unique Lovespoon around some of these elements and I started off by first visiting the Wikipedia with a reference to the Priory of Sion. It was there that I found the official emblem of the Priory of Sion which incorporated a fleur-de-lis, intricate enough to make a great focal point for the start of my Lovespoon design.

The other strong elements that had been referenced during the reading was an equal sided cross and a five petal rose that was inlaid into the rosewood box that would encase the cryptex. These two prominent elements together with a heart would make for a strong design and are quite often primary elements in most traditional Lovespoons. Continue reading Da Vinci Code Lovespoon

The Beauty of Daffodils

I had been thinking of various designs for my next Welsh Lovespoon and what elements are held dearly to any person of Welsh decent. The Daffodil is the national flower of Wales and I had recently purchased a length of Basswood so this would give the ideal tones for the flowers that would adorn my next carving. I had decided to imaging a carving that had a staff with the spoon bowl at one end and a heart at the other. The daffodils would be placed along the staff and held on with a continual rope. The imagining of the design was the easy part but how would I carve this vision. Continue reading The Beauty of Daffodils