This spoon is made from a section of an old dead spruce tree I was using for fire wood whilst on a recent skiing trip. The beauty about this tree, (and similar small pines and spruces) is that through years of slow growth the grain is extremely tight – the tree must have been around 80 years old or more, but was no more than 5m tall with a trunk diameter of 12cm or so. This is because of the environment the tree grew in: at 70° North of the equator it is subject to long, cold, dark winters, with no sun for months of this, and this tree, on the outskirts of a bog and surrounded by much larger trees would be fighting to get light and nutrients. Many trees will stay small till a neighbouring tree falls, giving them the opportunity to grow. This one however died before it got the chance.
I had been waiting a few days till I found a bit of suitable wood for this week’s spoon. It was when I was splitting some fire wood noticed how beautiful the grain was – sometimes the right bit of wood find you.
I didn’t take many pictures of the whittling stages, but it changed shape and design numerous times, slowly morphing into the final spoon to see above. There were many knots in the wood, and at times it was tricky to whittle, but generally it was a nice spoon to carve – tight grain but easy to work. Spruces grow upwards spiraling, increasing stability – the spoon naturally took on this twist, a nice but not planned design addition.
I would carve some days when I got a moment in between setting up camp, waiting for food to cook or just before bed, but this didn’t get me very far. I completed most of it on the last day of the trip, when I had a rest day. In fact I didn’t leave my camp once, it was my day of rest and I dedicated it to reading and whittling. With blue sky all around and balmy temperatures of 4°C I set up a sofa-come-chaise longue with my reindeer skin on the snow. Throughout the day I laid here, basking in the warmth of the sun, listening to the occasional chatter of surrounding birds, reading, whittling and drinking lots of tea.
The spoon was a grubby mess after I had finished the final shape with the knife. A week without a proper wash means your hands resemble a coal miners. So I left the sanding till I had returned home.