Winter Solstice - Visit from an old friend

My life has changed in so many ways.. one of my favorite songs over the years. Made it thru the holidays and now one of the hardest years of my life is behind me in the past. It always feels strange to start a new year, really I consider the winter solstice the changing of time. After all it's really the shortest light of day in our entire trip around the sun each year. Now it's time to get really settled in, get the wood pile stacked real high, and bury myself in craft. I'm always full of grand ideas and schemes, but I want to focus on projects Ive been putting off for far too long. Also for those I owe a couple spoon trades, I will get it sorted out asap. Having to move again after six months threw a monkey wrench in my plans and wallet. But I have stuff put aside and will have it all taken care of soon. A couple days after Christmas my old friend and good buddy Luc Lavoie wanted to visit me in my new home. We always have a great time with lots of laughs but most important we get some real work done. Each visit we carve up a decent pile of spoons, and also get to dive deep into heady conversation revolving around what we're making and why. So we spent two days wandering the mountains and bringing home some real nice pin cherry. Being the shortest light of the year, darkness ascends quickly so we spent most of our time sitting close to the woodstove and carving stumps in the yurt. Now that I think of it, the last couple of Luc visits were spur of the moment decisions which keeps things interesting. No time to prepare the visit, just go into it headfirst.. I haven't been a man of many words lately so I'll let the photographs do the talking. Maybe I'll scratch in some thoughts later on. So I brought Luc up to my favorite spot to sit and ponder. I haven't really explored farther yet. Luc looks happy.. he found a nice fallen pin cherry. Or as I call it "Sherrie!" In my poor attempt at a french accent. If you don't know Luc, he's from Montreal and is French Canadian. Wood can sit on the forest floor for quite some time before the wood fully rots. When in doubt, check the end grains.   We didnt have anything to baton with so Luc picked up a tree trunk. Are all Canadians lumberjacks? Then we decided to process our spoon blanks up there. After axing out blanks we enjoyed some ale out of one of my kuksas and one of Jarrod Stone Dahl's super thin-super tasty end grain lamhog cups. Once the sun went down we walked back down to the hurt to carve up some spoons. We also have a ritual we've been doing for years now. If you go back thru my blog you will see where this originated from. I have noticed a lot of other makers doing this now which is exciting. Time to step up your game.. if it's not good enough for you, it's not good enough to sell. Luc and I have a special practice where we have older spoons that linger aorund and never find a home. This is our way of cleansing or getting rid of the poor and inferior spoons that we feel are not suitable for use. When you starting making many spoons you start to be able to filter out what is good and what is bad. Think of your favorite album to listen to. Those musicians probably wrote 70 songs and only kept 9 for the record. The other songs go in the bin. So after a year of carving hundreds of spoons, some collect dust and end up in a special silver trophy cup I found. When it fills up, they get burned and return to the earth. We must've burned around 40 spoons. I know.. I know..  Ive heard it all but we created these and can decide where they end up. Not fit for the kitchen, but fits perfectly in the stove! Luc is always on point and carves beautiful spoons in no time. Really skilled handcrafter which most don't realize takes thousand and thousands of hours. Intense concentration and dedication to make consistent and beautiful objects.   Ahhhh the dark. There is something comforting, yet uneasy about sitting around a fire in the dark. It makes you really focus in on conversation and thoughts because you literally can't see anything outside of the fire circle.  I could never live anywhere that didn't allow me to make one. I really think it is the one thing that connects us to our past and reminds us of where we come from.   Nothing better than a campfire, full moon, and a steep cliffside overlooking the valley below. You can see all the way to Connecticut from here. Jeremiah Johnson anyone? Luc had this badass parka on with the fur hood and realized someone gave me one after the housefire last year. So I had to match of course! We were trying to keep a really straight face for the photo but the damn smoke kept burning our eyes and we just kept cracking up. Man it feels good to laugh, its been too long. Here is the overly dramatic badass woodsman shot The next day Bryan stopped by to have some snacks, ale, and to catch up on his spoon carving.   Some of Luc's spoons and some bowls Bryan turned (Billybass) My new Luc Lavioe buckthorn spoon! Luc sanding his spoons which nine out of ten times I am completely against. Most people sand wood to hide imperfections but Luc isn't hiding anything. There is a proper way to sand and sadly most do it poorly. Personally I never sand anything, I don't believe in that blasphemy! ;) Lefty Luc wanted to learn some guitar this way in the future when we meet, we can play songs. So we spent a lot of the last night jamming away. I sang a couple Neil Young songs for my friend and...we burned more spoons. Hemlock needle tea is so good. You must try it. Here is the spoons I carved while Luc was here. If you want one email me quick. Thanks for reading. I'll probably end up filling in more of the dialogue a bit later.
Alex YerksComment