Saturday 22 December 2018

Samhain 2017.

Hi all, it's been a while since I've sat in front of the Mac to write to this blog.
I have written un-politically here in the past, but I must say the vote for 'Brexit' took the wind from my sails somewhat.
I've been determined to get out and about during 2017 and was successful in doing so.
Sarah and I have had a super year meeting friends old and new, I've drawn a line under some old projects and started new ones along the way, and I've been supported by some amazing people.


I started the year with a determination to get back into carving larger pieces, Kuksa and Ale hen, I also needed to experiment with ways of naturally stabilising these larger pieces. I needed to sort out a new permission where I could gather materials and clear out one of the old stone pigsties at home where I could sit and work. Along the way Sarah and I also felt the need to get out and about as much as time would allow.


I managed to damage my old light weight tent at the Wilderness Gathering a couple of years ago. I'd used the Vaude Space II for donkeys years. It had been my home on Dartmoor, back packed across France where it was my shelter wild camping on mountain and within woodland, it became my home again motorcycling across France during the early part of the century. It looked after us during the Gathering and finally came to grief on the take down, the summers sunshine over the years took it's toll, that plus the thorn of a wild rose.
Sarah and I always wanted a tipi, a huge one to live in and a smaller, packable one. The extra heigh would reduce the amount of crawling around I have to do when camping. We managed to get the smaller one crossed off the list with a Robens Green Cone.




We took it for a tour of the Southern moor early in the season, the days were wonderfully sunny with spring blue skies and clear chilly starlit nights. 



The tipi was super with hardly any crawling about involved. The outer plus it's centre pole runs in at approx 2 kilos, the inner brings it up to 5kilos. We took the inner only and it worked well. A bit fiddly putting it up but I'm sure as experience grows the job will become simpler.


We tried it out on the open moor and under canopy in a small woodland.
The buds are always lagging behind here on Dartmoor compared to the lowlands.


As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to re-visit Kuksa carving with the same three tool arrangement as before but with a new outlook, a new design and solving any stability problems along the way.
I admit to adding one small inexpensive tool to the list to allow me to let in a mouth for my 
Devon Dragon.


A tiny 3mm dia gouge, just the job as it doesn't rip the green fibres as a drill might do.
The dragon came about after a friend wanted a 'new Kuksa'. I started carving a bowl with a kind of ale hen tail handle. After a while I thought it a daft idea, it needs a head, of course it does.
It's unusual for me to head for the pencil and paper, but on this occasion I did, I sat and drew the head  design in profile and carried that across to the wood.


Theres a first time for everything and it worked.
From that first Devon Dragon Kuksa came interest from many directions, it seemed to fire the imagination and I've made quite a few over the summer.


They are fun to make, probably the hardest design I've carved to date, I think it's a coming together of everything I've learned over the years.
So the drawing attempt gave me another idea and I set to with the pencil and came up with a design for my spoons.


So, the spooncarving tool kit stays the same and the Kuksa carving tool kit grows by one tool.



Alongside the carving I was in touch with the folk at The Scottish Crannog Centre.


I visited the Scottish Crannog Centre a couple of years ago and was very taken by the work put into the construction of the Crannog itself, not only that, but the demonstrations given by the very committed staff where informative and fun.
I instantly became a fan.
The Crannog is now 20 years old and has just been accredited 'museum' status.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Spoon carving tuition at the Scottish Crannog Centre.

Spoon carving tuition at the Scottish Crannog Centre.
It's beautifully sunny here in the Shire right now.
Although I hate to say it, being a sun worshiper, we could do with some rain in Devon.


It's been busy at the stump here at the PigStye Works, trying to catch up with orders and putting some stock on the shelf for our upcoming Mac Roadshow.


I've been busy carving and finishing Devon dragon Kuksa for customers and I've carved a few simple Kuksa for sale at some of our up-coming events. 
We're headed up to The Scottish Crannog Centre for a week or two where there are still slots available for spooncarving tuition.

I hope some of you can make the journey and spend some time at one of Scotlands most impressive living museums.


All the best for now...

Friday 20 July 2018

Spoon carving courses and demonstrations.

I've a few dates to share with you.
We have a busy period round the corner where I will be demonstrating and teaching at some special venues.

The first is the 'Marldon Apple Pie Fair' which is close to Totnes.
The fair will be on Saturday the 28th July.
I will be there with Sarah demonstrating the fine art of spooncarving.


Shortly after, we will be filling the car and heading north up to the highlands of Scotland where I will be resident at the 'Scottish Crannog Centre' from Wednesday 1st August till Tuesday 7th August.
I will be running courses over that time period and I will also be demonstrating over the weekend of Saturday 4th Sunday 5th at the Crannogs yearly 'The Celts are Coming' event.
Follow the link to make a booking for one of my courses.
We may even get a chance to sleep in the Crannog itself.




Then we are headed back south to rest and pack for the 'Wilderness Gathering' Bush Farm Bison Centre in Wiltshire.
This event runs from the 16th August till the 19th August.
I will be demonstrating spooncarving with Axe, knife and hook.
Come along and watch, ask questions and get involved in a spot of folk art bushcraft style.


All in all it's going to be a busy time, we're looking forward to the events and we hope to meet up with some of you soon.
All the best for now... J

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Char cloth production.

The summer is coming along nicely here in the Shire, hot days and warm evenings have bought the BBQ out in us. Home made burgers and salad is a favourite of ours at this time of year.
When I use a BBQ, I enjoy the challenge of lighting it naturally, I usually use a flint and steel with some char-cloth and fine Birch bark to set light to some kindling that will then be covered with charcoal. I had a pair of white linen loons that I like'd to wear when the temperatures rose, unfortunately they have given up the ghost. I thought, as I'm running short of char-cloth I'd put them to good use. The material is purely natural, no man made fibres included, this is important. I have often used Denim successfully too.


I tear the cloth into strips and carefully roll the material, tightly to a size that will easily fit inside my trusty, rusty tin. I don't make the roll to big as I have to carefully remove the char-cloth once it's burned and cooled.


The tin has a lid with a good seal, it also has a tiny hole in it to let exhaust gasses escape during the burn. You can see the hole size in pictures further down the page. It also has a wooden plug that I can pop into the hole to seal it at the end of the burn.


I lit a fire, with flint and steel, and popped the can carefully on top.
For a short while nothing happens, then a flame or smoke will start issuing from the hole in the lid making a whooshing sound as it does so.


After some minutes the fierce flame will stop and white smoke will take it's place. The process is almost over.


Once the smoke has stopped, remove the can and place it on a fireproof surface. Quickly plug the hole. The can is hot so use tongues or a pair of sticks.


With it's stick plug sealing the hole, leave the can for a few hours to cool down.
The can has a roll of hot char-cloth within and if you are too quick to open the lid, air will get in and the whole roll could start smouldering. Char-cloth smoulders at a very high temperature, so be careful. Don't bring it into the house or tipi just yet.


Once everything has cooled and there is no longer a risk of ignition, pop the lid of and have a look to see if the burn was successful. In this case it was....


You can now remove the char-cloth and roll it into convenient sized pieces to fit into your fire starting tin.


I use a small tobacco tin, inside of which I keep flint and steel, char-cloth, Birch bark, fat lighter, a ferrocerium rod and a couple of pieces of cramp ball. This is usually all I need to turn a spark into a flame.

Hold the char-cloth close to the edge of the flint and strike with the steel until a spark catches and starts smouldering. This might happen on the first strike or the thirty first.


Once the spark has taken I introduce the smouldering cloth to some fine Birch bark. Once the Birch bark has caught I can light my kindling and then my charcoal. I'm going to have to stop now as I have to make some burgers and get the fire lit.

I have made provision for a couple of spoon carving courses here in Devon over the next couple of weekends. You can find information further down the page. 
It'd be lovely to see you... J


I've just added a new date to the courses I will be running before the summer holidays here in Devon.
I'm running a course for those that are further along their spoon carving journey.
I will teach some techniques to allow your next step in your spooncarving process.

The new date is 21st July.

Details and ticket sales can be found....


See you soon... J

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Spoon carving course.

I have posted a date for a spoon carving course here in Devon.

Join Jon Mac for an introduction to wooden spoon carving. Jon is a well respected spoon and Kuksa carver, who will take you through the use of three main tools used for hand carving wooden spoons from green wood. He will introduce you to the carving Axe, straight knife and hook knife, and show you safe useage to accomplish a carved spoon of your own. This is a one day course offered for the inexperienced, aspiring green wood spoon carver. All tools and wood needed for this course are supplied.
Follow this link for details and payment options...


See you soon... J

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Spoon-carving with Jon Mac.

Hi hi.
It's been quite a busy few weeks here in the Shire.
I've been running carving courses and completing orders for Dragon Kuksa.
These latest two were bought by an American collector.
Apparently he'll be sipping fine Scotch from them once they arrive.
Fingers crossed Dragons like Scotch, I'm sure they will.
As you know, I carve my Dragon Kuksa using the same technique I've been using for years.
Hand carved using Axe, knife and hook.
No electric tools or abrasives.
Pure pie power.
You can find pictorial tutorials earlier on in this blog that may well help you on your way to carving your own. Or contact me if you would like to sit with me for a weekend of tutorial and hands on carving.

Dragon Kuksa.

I have, in between times, been carving spoons.
I have a basket of spoons ready for sale which I have photographed here, and a basket of spoons that need some decoration and oiling before they are ready.
The spoons shown here are hand carved by me using Axe, knife and hook.
These spoons are available for £35.00 inc post and pack, including the USA and Europe.
Simply email me with the Set number and number of spoon from left to right or screen shot the spoon you'd like to buy.

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

Set 5

Set 6

Set 7

Set 8

Set 9

I've also spent some time writing and article for the folk at Fox Chapel Publishing.
They contacted me a few months ago and asked if I could write a tutorial on spoon carving without a hook knife. I've written on this subject before here on SpoonCarvingFirstSteps, it can be accomplished by using a friction firelighting rig as written about HERE or by using a straight knife as touched on HERE.
I still haven't written the complete 'How to' on using a straight knife only for  SCFS and it looks like you'll have to wait a while longer, or buy the magazine for now.



That's pretty well all for the moment.
I'm working on another two Kuksa, one is for a customer, again over in the States, and I'm hoping it'll be finished soon. 
I must mention that whilst walking the hills of Dartmoor the other weekend, I came across a bit of ground that caught my geologists eye. On closer inspection, and after contacting a local historian, it looks like I may have found a forgotten WWII aircraft crash site. 
I'm awaiting news with baited breath.
All the best for now... J

Carving a Dragon Kuksa.

Carving a Dragon Kuksa.  I have been carving Kuksa from green Birch for 15 years or so, I’m self taught. From the beginning, I limited mysel...