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Make. Making. Made


Template or Freehand?

Template or Freehand?

For a long time, I only drew out spoons on my blanks freehand- I think the most common advice experts give will recommend that this is the proper practice to train hand & eye coordination. In turn, that will inform the sculptural shaping that takes place later during removal of wood. Being prone to following what seems like sound advice, I took it as dogma.nI also mostly carved one-off designs or at most a pair or set of spoons meant to complement one another, which I thought didn't necessitate templates.

Only recently have I begun experimenting with using templates- and the experience has brought unexpected results. I'll admit that I first gave templates a try in an attempt to speed up my roughing out process- but I can truthfully say that in contrary to popular opinion, I found it to be a useful exercise in creating a more successful shape for the spoons to be born from the drawing. Not only is it easier to refine a shape on paper than on a block of wood, the finished template acts as a mock-up of the tool to come- holding it in your hand gives a better sense of scale and shape than a projection on a chunk of wood. For example, I could use my paper template to ensure that my spoon meant to fit in a jar does indeed do so, or that a handle is long enough to reach deep into a pot on the stove.

The templates can also survive as an archive of sorts of past shapes- long after a spoon has left my hands I could pull out this trace of it to be reminded of the size of the bowl, or the curves of the handle. I find them to be curiously aesthetic objects in their own right. 

To make a template I begin by sketching on quality artist's paper with a soft pencil, once I am satisfied with the shape i add suggestions of possible decorations and hints of shading and depth. I've no great skill with a pencil but I think a little bit goes a long way towards giving the template a bit more reality. Next I cut out the outline with the craft knife i use for collaging- then glue it to a thicker paper similar to cardstock and cut it out once more. Obviously you could glue it then cut it a single time, but I'm quick enough with the knife that I prefer to do it twice- tracing the shape with the long cutting motion of the knife refines inconsistencies in the shape. Finally I put a light coat of spray-lacquer on the template to add some longevity. 

Ever tried templates for your carving? Get after it, and fill your head with Platonic thoughts of forms and ideals!

Burling out

Burling out

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