Ladder to the Top

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Project by Spoontaneous posted 06-06-2014 08:24 PM 3122 views 9 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well… it has been 79 days since I last posted so once again I must apologize in advance for what might be a long winded post. But…. you’ve probably have come to expect that from me by now.

The “LADDER TO THE TOP’ is serviceberry wood, mahogany base and the ‘top’ is bloodwood, holly and ebony. The thing is 22 1/2” if I remember.. and the spoon balances on the base. If you were to climb up the ‘corporate ladder’ once you get half way up, the spoon pivots and you are actually going down again. If there is an allegory in there somewhere it came about after the spoon was made.

‘BROCCOLI AND MAHOGANY SEED POD’ is just that…. a dried broccoli stalk filled with black pigmented epoxy attached to a piece of a seed pod from a mahogany tree. Once these things dry they are hard as wood (both of them). The broccoli stalk was sent to me last year from a lady in Texas that had stored it in the rafters of her shed.

The ‘BOTTLEBRUSH LOOP’ is from the bottlebrush tree that grows down here in Florida. This wood has a sort of waxy feel, like cedar but more so, and it finishes out real nice but also takes a bit more effort than cedar. On this one I just took the marker and drew a sort of ‘loop’ with a handle. 9 inches, I think.

‘SUMO’ is from a piece of wild apple wood… with a bit of acrylic paint for his….. whatever that loin cloth looking thing is called. I should have tried it in a softer wood and maybe would have gotten a better result. But… he is still a little funny.

‘VOID WHERE PROHIBITED’ is walnut. I’ve had this idea for several years and originally meant to pull it off as a wall hanging….. layers of cardboard with stenciling…. but being a spoon maker it seems like most ideas adapt themselves. I’m sure my wife would appreciate me clarifying the fact that I’ve had this idea longer than I’ve had her and that there is no underlying angst pointed in her general direction.

‘SPOON POD’ was a definite case of ‘biting off more than I can chew’. I was intent on carving this physalis looking pod with a spoon bowl carved inside. I do not have one of those high speed carvers that the ‘pros’ have to carve eggshells and the such…. and even if I did… I don’t think I could pull off what I was trying to pull off… but of course, I did not know that I couldn’t until…... I couldn’t.

The thing was going to look really cool though. The pod was going to be lacy and thin and the bowl would have to have been carved through all those tiny holes. The truth of it is… I had troubles enough just carving the thing without the lace in the way. This is the direction the thing was going in before I (wisely) aborted.

Someone from ETSY sent me a box of 30,000 year old kauri wood (google it) and asked me to make him a spoon from it. The deal was I could keep all the left over wood. I actually ended up making two spoons for him… as the first had several little ‘checks’ in the wood. The second piece came out much clearer. He did not want the spoon to be ‘figurative’ but in spite of my efforts to oblige him, the second spoon ended up looking a whole lot like a bird.

‘Y THE LONG FACE’ was another idea I had for a wall piece. I had planned on using a crotch slab to carve on. This spoon is from a small stick of Surinam cherry. I had not planned on the nose being so prominent but there was a third branch in the right place…. so it stayed.

I got hold of some brown mallee burl wood and carved the next three spoons. Fairly decent wood to carve but as with some burls it had a tendency to break. On the first spoon I had cut out the design as a sort of back and forth squiggle. One of the squiggles broke on the bandsaw and so the snake had to be repaired.

Once I glued the pieces back together it was an obvious repair job. So I cut the snake into sections and laminated some bloodwood and ebony ‘bands’ to create a ‘BANDED SNAKE’.

A lady from ETSY contacted me and said she had a couple of boxes of burl offcuts which her woodturning ex-husband had left behind. She lived in Miami and wanted $100 for the pile. My wife and I had already planned an outing down that way for the weekend to visit Fairchild Gardens. Long story short… the next two pieces came from that pile.

The cherry burl had to be super glued as it was mostly punk. The second piece I think is maple… and it looks like a TACO to me.

A couple of cedar spoons. ‘FAIRLY ODD SPOON’ came about one day when I did not know what to work on next. I will usually walk in circles and pick up wood until something ‘happens’. There used to be an animated show on TV that my daughter watched when she was younger called something like ‘Fairly Odd Parents’... and for some reason, that show came to mind carving this first spoon.

‘MANLY PROPORTIONS’ is a big spoon with a good sized bowl… could be used as the spoon and the bowl. The bottom has a recessed circle that holds the spoon upright. Maybe 13” long with a good fat handle.

‘EGGPLANT SPOON’ is carved from walnut. The fruit has a finish… but I left the ‘stem’ unfinished for contrast. I had carved an eggplant spoon before (Aubergine) but on that one I dyed and painted it.

This next spoon is ‘SPALTED BOXWOOD maybe’. I say maybe because when I collected the wood down in the design district of Miami I was certain it was boxwood. Looked like boxwood, smelled like boxwood and even carved like boxwood on the first couple of spoons.

I took a half log and soaked it in water and while still wet I wrapped it up in a plastic bag. Forgot about it for several months until I dug it out for this spoon. It did spalt a little bit but it also seemed to become more ‘coarse’ and harder to carve.

There is a tree that grows her called ‘Silk Floss’ which has big rounded thorns all up and down the branches and trunk. I have been looking for some of this wood for quite a while…. and then one day I was headed to the shop and I saw this pick up truck coming out of one of the local tree company’s lot with what looked like a big mahogany log in the bed. The tree company leaves out a big pile of wood for woodturners and the such to rummage through.

I turned in and sure enough the front loader was out there dropping off some large mahogany logs. All of it was way to big for my little Civic to haul… but as I was talking to the fellow he asked me what kinds of wood I was interested in. Among those I mentioned was the silk floss and off he went to cut me some branches.

The wood is light almost like balsa… but the thorns are really impressive. I am letting the bigger pieces dry for a spell but did manage to carve this one out of a smaller ‘twig’. I call it ‘THWART’ for obvious reasons.

A small scoop from zebrawood.

I carved this other spoon from Surinam cherry and drew some ‘scale like’ sections on the handle. I set about carving those out and when I was done I wanted to use black acrylic paint for the ‘fill’. My paints were at home so I used dye instead and of course if you look closely it sort of wicked through the ‘white’ spaces. The next day I discovered that I DID have some paint at the shop… but too late by then. I like the effect and want to experiment some more…. as it gives the handle a nice texture/feel.

‘SPOON DOG’ is from a wormy piece of box elder. I have seen a lot of people use box elder and wanted to see how it carved. I can’t say I like working with it too much. Kind of like basswood, but harder and with red streaks…. that they tell me will fade in time.

I bought a piece of spalted pecan and made a couple of spoon from it. The wood was pretty decayed… but the spalting lines were outstanding. The first one I called ‘MARSHWIGGLE’... which came from some book I read as a kid. I remember ‘Puddleglum’ was a frog looking creature called a Marshwiggle…. I think. Anyways… he stands on his own.

The other piece was just going to be a ‘regular’ spoon but became a ‘WRAPPED SPOON’ shortly after I managed to snap the thing in half during the sanding process. I just glued it back together and wrapped with wax linen cord.

A small cedar spoon.

And about the only other thing I have to offer up is a ‘magic wand’. I am still thinking about maybe inlaying a small turquoise cabochon into the handle… but gotta find one first. Bloodwood, Macassar ebony, crystal and silver.

Well that is about all I have gotten done lately. But before I quit I should tell you about an online art spoon exhibition that I got to be included in. Del Mano Gallery out in LA (the city, not the state) has for the FIRST time ever featured a show for spoons.

There are some really beautiful works by folk that are much more proficient with a tool than me…. and some of their spoons quite frankly blow mine out of the water. If you have a mind to you can check it out by clicking on the following link…

Uh…. sorry for the long post ??

As always…. thanks for having a look!

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

19 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30646 posts in 3583 days

#1 posted 06-06-2014 08:32 PM

You continue to have one of the greatest imagination I have ever encountered. Incredible work.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3730 days

#2 posted 06-06-2014 08:45 PM

Very creative work. You are a very odd guy. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

-- Brian Timmons -

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4553 days

#3 posted 06-06-2014 08:48 PM

I like them…very awesome…

View terryR's profile


7657 posts in 3553 days

#4 posted 06-06-2014 09:04 PM

Very nice stuff, as always, Terry! The spalted Pecan and mallee burl are sweet.

You are a very talented and inspiring man! Thanks for sharing! o wood coming your way soon…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Roman - THE BOOTMAN's profile


1077 posts in 3931 days

#5 posted 06-06-2014 11:05 PM

79 days!!!!
It was worth the wait.

If you follow the same time span, the next batch of spoons will be August 28. I’m marking that on my calendar.

Simply put your spoons are fantastic!


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

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5126 days

#6 posted 06-07-2014 12:12 AM

You’ve got skills.
These are simply gorgeous and fun too. Wonderful work.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8293 posts in 4597 days

#7 posted 06-07-2014 12:35 AM

I feel like I have just visited a high end Art’s Museum and got in for free! Exquisite work, Extremely beautiful.

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Texcaster's profile


1293 posts in 2918 days

#8 posted 06-07-2014 02:04 AM

I can’t stop looking! The photography is very good as well.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View JimArnoldChess's profile


210 posts in 4239 days

#9 posted 06-07-2014 02:52 AM

Always most impressive work!!!! I came on here for one sec to see what you posted and now its 20 minutes later…the spaLted pecan is beautiful, Terry!!!....not possible to pick a favorite spoon this time, but I really like the ladder to the top, and the bamded snake, the eggplant spoon…heck I like them all.

Superb craftsmanship and brilliant imagination! Need to go back and look again.

thanks Terry!



View deon's profile


2522 posts in 4270 days

#10 posted 06-07-2014 05:13 AM

Wow! Great work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View hoss12992's profile


4180 posts in 3137 days

#11 posted 06-07-2014 03:49 PM


-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9986 posts in 3573 days

#12 posted 06-07-2014 04:29 PM

your work is very creative…. VERY, VERY CREATIVE

and your titles are a hoot.

Puddleglum is a character in The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis and is part of the Narnia Chronicals. I read them in 3rd grade and then again 30 years later to my kids. Turns out that there’s another layer of allegory in these books that most kids probably never get. Definately worth reading again.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View palaswood's profile


1061 posts in 2996 days

#13 posted 06-07-2014 04:44 PM

I have been enjoying your artistry for a little while and you continue to amaze me. BRAVO sir!

What are your chief carving tools which you employ? I have been using a full hook mora knife – it dulls quickly or im not sharpening it right in the first place. My brother got me a Flex-cut deluxe starter kit for Bday, so Im stoked on that.

I’ll PM you about sending you some wood – I have some unique pieces you may get a kick out of.

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4281 days

#14 posted 06-07-2014 04:56 PM

Long time between posts (I can talk) but always well worth the wait. You make spoons like no other. I’m particularly struck by spoon pod, a bending of space is ever I saw one!

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Spoontaneous's profile


1340 posts in 4574 days

#15 posted 06-08-2014 12:27 AM

Thanks guys! Joseph ~ Most of my carving tools are rotary. I use a Foredom flexshaft tool that I have had for 30 years or so. I use various burs depending on the size and detail of the carving. I have a couple of really great carving knives that a fellow Lumberjock made for me… and I really like and cherish those for detail work.

I sometimes feel like power carving is sort of like ‘crutches’, but I just don’t think I have the patience or dexterity to pull off the same pieces with only blades.

I have been wanting one of those power carving tools. I was watching a video of this Japanese spoon maker and he uses one to cut out his spoon bowls. His spoon bowls are much shallower than what I usually do but I bet I could find uses for one of those things.

I’d like to know how the Flexcut set works out for you…. and I also think it wouldn’t hurt to have a set for certain uses. I am just a really poor blade sharpener and that might slow me a bit.

I admire those guys that can not only make a blade… but manage to keep a razor edge on them. A skill I apparently was not gifted with.

Here is a link to about ALL I know about spoon carving tools…. and some of it… I don’t really know.

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

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