“The sharper the knife, the cleaner the line of the carving.”

Gary Snyder, Practice of the Wild

Gary Snyder wrote these words as a metaphor for the precision and elegance of relationships among members of the natural world, the knife of each species’ adaptations for survival honed on the whetstone of evolution. Given that understanding, he notes, we have a responsibility to live in ways that do as little harm to these relationships as possible, ways that don’t dull the blades. Because as any woodcarver knows, it’s the dull blade you need to watch out for, not the sharp one.

I love carving spoons with hand tools: a coping saw and hatchet to shape the wood, a straight knife, a curved spoon knife, and sandpaper.

I especially liked the freckle of dark wood in the handle of this spoon.
Buckthorn is considered an invasive exotic here in Vermont, but it’s my favorite spoon wood–look at that warm color!
Some interesting colors in this aspen.
Gambel oak spoon (one of the “Sibling Spoons”). Like every other one I’ve made, I gave it to some friend or family member.
I wanted to give my dad a spoon, but he wanted a talking stick, so we compromised, and I made a talking stick that is a spoon emerging from a block of aspen. The bark is still on the wood at the base. Many hands have held that spoon, since my dad used it for years in the workshops he led.
Half-finished set of salad tongs made of aspen, inspired by the beautiful shapes of Gambel oak leaves.
My sister Paula and her wife Deb had an immense white ash in their front yard that the town cut down to widen the road. Paula saved me a piece of the wood, and I carved a spoon for them.
Buckthorn spoon, before I coated it with heat-treated walnut oil.
I traded with a friend of mine–my spoon for his beautiful shingle hatchet.
One of my early attempts at the spiral form, of aspen.
I called these the Sibling Spoons. Four spoons, all carved out of the same chunk of Gambel Oak, sharing the same heartwood, like my four beloved siblings.
My very first spoon, of black birch. A bear to carve, since I only had a Swiss army knife at that time and the wood was really hard.