Ask a carver – Morgan Raleigh

☞ How long have you been into spoon carving?

More than six years.

☞ Why Spoons?

I am very drawn to making useful, everyday items beautiful. Spoons, bowls, brooms, baskets, and more. In a world of over consumerism and waste I find that connecting with something handmade slows down my consumption and my life. I am drawn to bring folk into deeper connection with place and process. Spoons feed us. They should be one of our most precious items.
 

☞ Social media, yes/no? Do you make use of multiple platforms or do you limit your online presence to only a few? Which ones do you find the most beneficial to what you do and offer?

Yes! I use a handful of platforms as I find I can connect with different people and in different ways through each platform. I am most present and engaged on instagram and youtube at the moment. I share and work to inspire a creative and intentional lifestyle. I am regularly sharing about spoon carving among many other crafts as well. My approach is to keep things honest, authentic and transparent. Social media can be such a gift if used well. I have found so many connections and room for growth when I use it in a curated way to what fits my personal growth.

☞ How does your partner react to wood chips and your spoon carving?

Supportive.

☞ Would you care to share the best pro tip you ever received with us?

“The first 100, actually make that 300, spoons you carve will be shit” – I know this sounds like the opposite of a pro tip but if you take this and let it be your key to freedom in creating and learning a new craft it will be just that. Let the fact that you will be imperfect for a long time be freeing. Don’t keep your work a secret until it’s ‘worthy’ of sharing. Make something, and keep making it. Mess up, do it right, stumble, have an aha, trip, and repeat. The more we know, the more we know we don’t know. I’ve carved 100’s of spoons and I keep thinking I’ve got it this time, but then I think the same thing 20 spoons away. Keep learning. Let your work be imperfect and keep striving to make it better!!!

☞ How do you like to finish your spoons?

Linseed Oil, Tung Oil, Oil Paint, Milk Paint and Oil, Roasting, Experimenting with dying and oxidising as well.

☞ What are your three most favorite tools in your kit?

Axe, Sloyd Knife and Adze.

☞ What is your most favorite part about carving a spoon?

Finish cuts.
 

☞ How do you approach sharpening your tools?

With a good podcast and steady breath. Sharpening is a craft unto itself and one that I haven’t dedicated nearly enough time. A real master likely spends more time sharpening than making. I’m not a master.

☞ How/where to you get your carving wood?

Roadside finds, Friends and family, Arborists/Tree crews, By hook or crook, In the dead of night.

☞ Where do you like to carve?

Everywhere! My workshop, in my kitchen, in the bathtub, at the train station (be discrete)…I’ve dreamt of busking and carving spoons or turning bowls for tips! Once I have a blank I can carry all I need to carve in my pockets or bag. We always have pieces to carve with us.
 

☞ Do you have a favorite joke that you’d like to share.

One day, two trees were standing in the forest. Between them was a young sapling. They look at each other, then back to the sapling trying to figure out whose it was. “That sapling is mine,” said the Beech tree, “it is most certainly the son-of-a- Beech.” “No, no, you’re wrong,” replied the Birch, “that tree is the son-of-a-Birch.” Both trees had no way of knowing because they couldn’t move and trees are also ironically impatient. Before long a woodpecker flies by and both trees call out. “Mister Woodpecker! Would you mind tasting this young sapling over here and telling us whether it is the son-of-Beech or the son-of-a-Birch?” The woodpecker flies down, dips his bill in a few times and looks back up. “Well?” Both trees asked. “Well, you’re both wrong. It is neither a son-of-a-Beech or a son-of-a-Birch. That right there, is the finest Ash I’ve ever put my pecker in.”
 

☞  Lessons learned from cutting yourself?

Don’t carve when you are tired or frustrated or trying to impress someone.
 

☞ Other than just spoons do you carve other items as well?

I also carve bowls, and cups, and am working on some jewelry, shrink pots, and figures as well!
 

☞ One Spoon, two knives. Which ones do you choose?

My pocket spoon and my hewn and hone straight knife, and my wood tools compound curve blade.
 

☞ Who is/are your favorite toolmaker/s?

Kalthoff Axes, Nic Westerman and Hewn and Hone.
 

☞ Do you have a philosophy about the hand carved wooden spoon?

A wooden spoon you make yourself will warm you, then feed you, and warm you again.
 

☞ What are your thoughts/experience on collaborative work?

I have yet to do collaborative projects on the same pieces with someone but am really hoping to do some cross medium projects in the future. I would love to combine wood and metals or wood and ceramics….or??? The ideas are limitless.
 

☞ What do you think about making your spoon blanks available to other carvers?

It’s so satisfying to have an accessible way to offer others the materials for their spoon carving journey. It a highlight of my week to axe out blanks for folks.
 

☞ What’s your process for creating the crank on your spoons?

Once I have the billet in a squashed diamond shape I make axe hits across the fibers where I’d like the deepest part of my crank. Then coming from up the handle I work away material to the bottom of the crank. Lastly I put it on its side, pressed up against my non-dominant forearm, lining up the crank with the edge of my axe block I slice away from the tip (bowl end) of the spoon the remaining material. It’s better with photos!

Follow Morgan on Instagram at @morganraleigh.c check out her work at https://morganraleigh.com and have a look at Morgan’s spoon blanks here.

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