Storytelling

 
 
 
 
 

I tell myself this every year around this time, that next year I'll break a some curses. One of them is the lack of visual storytelling I used to do up until late 2014. This year I finally feel like I have built a good archive photographs which are in some ways a documentation of my life. I guess it's hard to share some stories when you're still trying to figure out your own. 

I never have actually thought about why I take pictures. What an odd thing to do? No one should ever question something you do that is creative and helps you communicate with others.

 

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That's an easy way to chase away the muse. But then again cameras are so second nature to me that it doesn't have to feel like work to take a picture. When I get a spidey sense, I just quietly click one or two photos and put the camera back down.


Not sure why I've done that, but rarely I'm setting up a situation. But really those are photoshoots, not what I do with my everyday photographs that I often share here.

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Part of the reason I think it's hard for me to write whats on my mind with these stories, is there's just too much on my mind most of the time. 
I'm starting to like the idea of posting a gallery with short captions as if you were looking through an old photo album you found in a box up in the attic.

So now I'm going to take you back to September. I was headed West to Pat's Klipnocky Woods Spoon Gathering. Summer was fading and the leaves were starting to change. In his area in August it could be 30f by morning and 85f by high noon. It was nice to campout again.

 Meet Pat, and Roscoe the Dog

Meet Pat, and Roscoe the Dog

Gatherings are always interesting and you're never really ready for what to expect. They're sort of  living creatures and they sort've turn the attendees into a tribe for a weekend. I don't remember hearing about spoon clubs or gatherings before we started doing these up in the north east. I know there have been spoon club sessions going on in the UK and some in the midwest. Could be I was completely blind to this thing we called green woodworking back then. I thought I was the only one this far down the rabbit hole.. but I was wrong. Now we meet up a bunch. Some old faces, and some new.

It's a great way to share ideas, skills, technique, and most important.. laughs.

This is Matt Fang from Pennsylvania. He's a carver amongst many other talents. He's also a great leather worker and even made me a sweet custom belt which was a nice surprise in the mail after the gathering. He picked up one of my cups and even decorated that in typical Fang fashion.

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 Image by Matt Fang

Image by Matt Fang

There were a handful of others but I didn't really have my camera out the first day. Most of the pictures were taken the second night.

I'm glad Pat and I have tried to keep up with putting on these shindigs. It's good to connect with other carvers. It's something I've been doing now traveling about from Europe and midwest America.

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Sometimes I see in paintings. One of my favorite things to do while editing is look closely at some of the details. Usually each person is off in their own world, where you could crop into each subject and it'd make an interesting photo as well. Not sure how that happens but it's definitely a theme of mine that I've seen over the years.

 James seeing things in the new light.

James seeing things in the new light.

Later on at night is my favorite time to carve and talk craft. In Pat's workshop he has a bunch of hanging lights, and I really like a singular light source. Reminds me of old Rembrandt paintings.. just that simple contrasty single light source. Incandescent lights are just great lighting.

We were goofing off telling stories, having laughs and even broke into a bit of my "shoot your spoon" talk that I've offered at Spoonfest the past two years. How to find light? Chasing light.. Not sure what to call it, but it's how to make the best of every lighting situation and how to improvise. 

 It's a great exercise for the mind. Folks at Spoonfest probably saw some of my disciples running around the field spinning in circles looking at their spoons for the best dance between light and shadow.

It's a great exercise for the mind. Folks at Spoonfest probably saw some of my disciples running around the field spinning in circles looking at their spoons for the best dance between light and shadow.

 Cale and I had such a good time laughing about all sorts of outlandish talk. When he left he snuck a spoon into my basket which was such a kind thing to do. The night prior we talked about our spoons and why certain aspects were our favorites.

Cale and I had such a good time laughing about all sorts of outlandish talk. When he left he snuck a spoon into my basket which was such a kind thing to do. The night prior we talked about our spoons and why certain aspects were our favorites.

 It's good to see old friends and catch up, see their progress in craft. I always look forward to seeing Don Nalezyty from Maryland. We always somehow find time to run into eachother whether it's in New York, Maryland, Virginia, or even England. His spoon is on the left and the black cherry one I carved is on the right.

It's good to see old friends and catch up, see their progress in craft. I always look forward to seeing Don Nalezyty from Maryland. We always somehow find time to run into eachother whether it's in New York, Maryland, Virginia, or even England. His spoon is on the left and the black cherry one I carved is on the right.

 This is Eric from New Jersey. He visited the yurt last spring to take a kuksa course up in the Catskills where I lived at the time. He's been carving up a whole bunch of nice cups. It's good to test the latest ones with ale. Key research and development here.

This is Eric from New Jersey. He visited the yurt last spring to take a kuksa course up in the Catskills where I lived at the time. He's been carving up a whole bunch of nice cups. It's good to test the latest ones with ale. Key research and development here.

 
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 If you haven't noticed.. there was this great moth flying around our light which Cale is pointing to here. If you scroll up to the vertically cropped shot of him, you can see the moth showing it's face. These are little details I like. Most wouldn't notice them, but they are an entire little story in themselves.

If you haven't noticed.. there was this great moth flying around our light which Cale is pointing to here. If you scroll up to the vertically cropped shot of him, you can see the moth showing it's face. These are little details I like. Most wouldn't notice them, but they are an entire little story in themselves.

 Jeff Kuchak is another friend from Pennsylvania. I think I've known Pat now for almost four years. I met up with him when he was apprenticing for my friend Jarrod Dahl over in Wisconsin. The craft world is growing in America and it's great to see and be a part of a lot of people stories since I take my craft on the road.

Jeff Kuchak is another friend from Pennsylvania. I think I've known Pat now for almost four years. I met up with him when he was apprenticing for my friend Jarrod Dahl over in Wisconsin. The craft world is growing in America and it's great to see and be a part of a lot of people stories since I take my craft on the road.

 I've known Luc Lavoie since one of the first gatherings. He lives up in Montreal Canada. One of my favorite spoon carvers, and favorite people to hang out with. It's become a tradition that no matter where we carve, we always make time to go on a spoon hunt in the surrounding environment. We found some nice buckthorn, and I scored the nicest pine whisk. One of benefits of having a nice pack basket is everyone wants to carry it for you. This one was made by April Stone from Wisconsin.

I've known Luc Lavoie since one of the first gatherings. He lives up in Montreal Canada. One of my favorite spoon carvers, and favorite people to hang out with. It's become a tradition that no matter where we carve, we always make time to go on a spoon hunt in the surrounding environment. We found some nice buckthorn, and I scored the nicest pine whisk. One of benefits of having a nice pack basket is everyone wants to carry it for you. This one was made by April Stone from Wisconsin.

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 I enjoy season changes. The leaves filter the sunlight and different spots in the forest glow an array of washed colors. I don't allow my camera to automatically correct the color. I actually don't let my camera do anything automatic.

I enjoy season changes. The leaves filter the sunlight and different spots in the forest glow an array of washed colors. I don't allow my camera to automatically correct the color. I actually don't let my camera do anything automatic.

 Jeff gets it. Anything I make with my hands that isn't good enough for me, is good enough for the fire. It's good to purge out all of those "almosts"  Some people don't get it and that's fine. It's not for you, it's for me. We have reasons why we return the sub par future firewood carvings to the Earth.

Jeff gets it. Anything I make with my hands that isn't good enough for me, is good enough for the fire. It's good to purge out all of those "almosts"

Some people don't get it and that's fine. It's not for you, it's for me. We have reasons why we return the sub par future firewood carvings to the Earth.

 Pat and I always talked about it, and he made it happen this year. The spoon carvers invaded a market! We came charging with our axes, spoon stumps and our best hat. It's something I've called Treen Revolution, or as a lot of other folks have been using Wood Culture. I'm all for bringing the sloyd to the streets.

Pat and I always talked about it, and he made it happen this year. The spoon carvers invaded a market! We came charging with our axes, spoon stumps and our best hat. It's something I've called Treen Revolution, or as a lot of other folks have been using Wood Culture. I'm all for bringing the sloyd to the streets.

Where will I be next? I just got back from teaching in Texas and I hosted a special event at the Filson store in Austin. 

 Right now I'm planning some events for the new year. I'm probably headed back to Europe for a short bit. England and France, then back here to teach in New York.  In March I'll be at The Vesterheim in Iowa, and North House Folk School teaching kuksa carving.

If you'd like one of the spoons I carved at Pat's gathering, you can find them here. I also have some really special serving spoons available.

 
 



 

 
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