Tyto the owl girl.

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Project by Spoontaneous posted 08-18-2013 06:14 PM 3304 views 7 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Long post… so if you only have time for the Reader’s Digest version, it goes like this…. “I made some stuff and here are the photos.”

Now for the ‘unabridged’ version….

I named the owl girl sculpture ‘Tyto’ for the Barn Owl species (Tytoninae). In researching owls, I discovered that they fit in two categories. ‘Typical’ owls are the vast majority of owls… and then you have your barn owls which are considered ‘non-typical’.

If you have the notion, you can Google search for barn owl images and see how amazing they look….. especially in flight.

Now… you might be wondering why I would carve an owl’s face on a girl’s body…..? Well, it went something like this…..

My wife (and I) are admirers of William DeBilzan’s paintings with the long, tall people.

And so I thought that I would carve a long, tall girl sculpture for my wife. A good ways into the project is when I remembered that I do not know how to carve a girl’s face. Each time I have tried, she turns out looking like an Apache war chief. So… I don’t remember if I had looked at owls before this realization… or if this is when I started to look at owls. Anyways…. the owl girl is what came about.

The wood, which was a 5’ long 4” x 4” of Cumala that I bought off Ebay a couple of years ago. I had planned to make a coffee table (legs) with it but just never got to it. The Cumala looks just like Mahogany to me… but is much harder and works a lot differently. I just could not get a surface that did not have undulations.

After the piece was finished, I learned that there is a Scottish word ‘bairn’ which means a child not yet grown….. so this could also be considered a ‘bairn owl’.

The fifth photo is Rorschach 2, the second in the series. The bowl is black and white ebony and the handle is ebony or blackwood. A big spoon…. maybe 15” long… with a cloven spoon bowl.

Next is ‘Tangled Web We Weave’ which came from the bottlebrush branch that Hurricane Sandy brought down. I was just planning on making a simple round bowl with a cigar shaped handle but I thought… what if I make it spiral, and then… what if I make it spiral in another direction….. and then… what if I carve out the insides. This is what came about.

A fellow at work had given his kid a 410 shotgun and somehow it ended with a broken stock. I was asked to make a replacement but that seemed a far reach beyond my capabilities (and tools). The stock had been repaired very badly with big screws and some sort of red putty filler….. making the two pieces offset by an 1/8”.

I decided to just redo the splice. I drilled two hole into each piece down the length and top to bottom. I cut off some screw shafts and filled with commercial grade epoxy. I figured the ‘texture’ of the screws would keep the piece from working loose.

I then sanded the stock smooth, dyed the blonde wood black and since the original only had a steel shoulder plate, I made a sort of shoulder piece from walnut and used the steel plate as a divider. I carved a stylized panther face through the finish, exposing the original blonde color of the wood.

A lady picked out a couple of my dogwood spoons to give as a wedding gift and she wanted a third serving spoon added to the order.. so I made this one from cedar.

‘BoneFish’ My wife wanted to try the Bonefish Grill so we navigated pouring rain and a big crowd before getting our table. Did not enjoy their food at all…. but I walked away with a decent idea for a spoon. Cedar with sapwood

‘Ribbonoir’ I took a piece of 1 inch square blackwood and made some undulating lines down the side. Using the rotary bit I dug out the inbetweens… which produced this ribbon-like spoon. Instead of applying a finish, I just took some compound and polished out the wood. Looks fragile but turned out to be a nice sturdy piece. 12” long, I think.

I think the next one was from the bottlebrush tree, as well. Simple spoon and I figured I could add a couple of bucks if I carved a twist in the handle.

‘Sprig’ is maybe cocobolo ?? (not sure) and has a strange shaped bowl… almost like a boat. I broke my 5/8 Timberwolf blade trying to cut this thing out. I seriously need to get a scroll saw. 6” or 7” long.

‘Comoonication’ is from figured maple. I dyed the handle and part of the bowl black. The eyeballs are silver tubing….. I liked the negative space/shape that the two faces make in between.

Another bottlebrush piece with the bark left on. Maybe 13” long.

A Boxwood dipper from the shrubs I salvaged down in Miami.

I had a 1” square piece of Wenge wood and carved a spoon from that. I dropped it into a container of bleach overnight and this is the result. 13”, I think.

I was sent a box of 50 year old pinot noir grape vines with the request to make something from them. Well, of course grapevines twist and turn and when they dry all the pressure gets released and the wood splits and checks like crazy. The first big hunk did not produce any wood big enough for a spoon.

The second piece I cut into was hollow through the middle and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it must have allowed the wood to dry without ripping all the wood apart. I got one piece that looked like a sock once I got all the rot cut away. So I was happy to be able to get at least one spoon from this wood…. a sort of leaf form. I am cutting up the rest of the wood into 1/2” squares, hoping to make a mosaic of some sorts.

I had set about carving a mask from a large block of basswood (don’t much care for it… kind of fuzzy). It started as an alien looking thing and ended up looking more like a Maori mask. Thing is… I have painted this thing 6 or 7 times and I can not get to anything I like. I am not a good painter anyways…. but I have tried several different colors of homemade crackle paint, and still I don’t like the thing. Not sure where to go with this…. but if anyone has suggestions…. my ears are bigger than usual. Maybe 12” wide x 16” tall. I just glopped on this paint to cover up the uglier ones.

Well, this isn’t exactly a ‘wood’ project, but it does come from a tree and I used wood dyes… so I am going to sneak it in. Not because I like it… but because I think there is some potential for another project down the road.

We had company coming over and there is no art above the sofa. I had this large empty frame but no picture. So with about 1/2 hour invested I made this….. whatever it is.

I had recently bought some syringes that I wanted to experiment with (no, not shooting up), and so I mixed up dyes and dripped them onto the cardboard randomly. After I got done my wife asked me to make two white hearts on top. Well…. I didn’t have any white wood dye (do they even make that?) so I took and thinned some of the acrylic paint with alcohol and tried that. The stuff was still pretty thick and so I did not have great control over how it shot out of the syringe. But nonetheless, we had something hanging over the sofa that evening.

Sorry for the long post… but I am just too lazy to do it otherwise.

Thanks for having a look.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

23 comments so far

View bonobo's profile


297 posts in 2322 days

#1 posted 08-18-2013 07:21 PM

These are the definition of fantastic…love them! That undulating blackwood spoon really floats my boat.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View MShort's profile


1797 posts in 3684 days

#2 posted 08-18-2013 07:42 PM

Glad you were able to start posting again. This is a fantastic group of spoons as usual top notch from you.


-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View Roman - THE BOOTMAN's profile


994 posts in 2952 days

#3 posted 08-18-2013 08:14 PM

I missed your work. Glad to see this post. Most inspiring! Roman

-- Author of POWER CARVING BOOTS & SHOES - Schiffer Publishing. Available online or your favourite bookstore.

View Manitario's profile


2724 posts in 3149 days

#4 posted 08-18-2013 08:16 PM

very cool and disturbingly attractive…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Doe's profile


1420 posts in 3096 days

#5 posted 08-18-2013 09:06 PM

I really like the bottlebrush; the twists are definitely worth the extra bucks.
The bleached wenge is amazing—it reminds me of Mokume-gane (Japanese laminated metal). What kind of bleach did you use?

Your post was most entertaining, thanks for sharing.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4427 days

#6 posted 08-18-2013 09:15 PM

beautiful spoons
beautiful stories behind the spoons

and I’m still chuckling at the reader’s digest version! haha

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Druid's profile


1970 posts in 3061 days

#7 posted 08-18-2013 11:42 PM

Very inventive and all well done. The details and explanations are really interesting. I like them.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View NaFianna's profile


524 posts in 3292 days

#8 posted 08-19-2013 12:46 AM

love that bottlebrush spoon with the bark on. And the vine leaf spoon.

-- Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad.......?

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3569 days

#9 posted 08-19-2013 12:47 AM

these are some really beautiful spoons, i still want to make some for ourselves and these sure do inspire, there much more then spoons, these are art, these really show your talents…thank you.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2090 days

#10 posted 08-19-2013 01:01 AM

Some very cool and inventive carving…Tyto is great as are your spoons and other carvings. Too many spoons I really like to name individual ones. Great carving…well done.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Kevin's profile


562 posts in 2565 days

#11 posted 08-19-2013 01:03 AM

True art, every piece. I’m amazed.

-- Measure twice, cut once, then sand a whole bunch

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30208 posts in 2604 days

#12 posted 08-19-2013 01:08 AM

You’ve hit a new level of awesome. very cool.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View sras's profile


4986 posts in 3395 days

#13 posted 08-19-2013 02:38 AM

Wow! Each one is fun to look at. I really impressed with the bleached wenge though – Interesting!!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Rustic's profile


3255 posts in 3862 days

#14 posted 08-19-2013 04:50 AM

train me my master lol love your work

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View S4S's profile


2118 posts in 2947 days

#15 posted 08-19-2013 05:32 AM

You took some stuff and made it into some nice stuff . That is one unique sphinx !!

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