carving wooden spoons in public

On my last spooncarving course one of the students was TV presenter and green woodworking enthusiast Adam Hart Davis. He has been greenwoodworking for many years and is particularly fond of spooncarving. I was inspired to hear that Adam carves spoons on the train. I travel to London fairly often and have been learning to knit but spooncarving on the train, there’s an idea. Adam catches most of the shavings in a sheet but also carries a small hand held vacuum cleaner for tidying up when he has finished. Last week Adam went from Totnes to London on Tuesday, to Birmingham on Wednesday, and back to Totnes on Thursday, and on each day he finished another spoon. Here he is on the train working on a curved sycamore spoon.

O was inspired enough and this week had to take my daughter to the doctors so rather than waste an hour reading old magazines I took my spoons. It was a lovely day so I sat on a bench outside carving away. I have a linen pinny that I sometimes use at home to catch the chips. I took rough carved spoons which just needed the fine work doing on them, I think axe work in public may not be the best idea.

Some readers will know my friend Barn the Spoon who also carves in public though he is doing it as a sales pitch, the busking spoonmaker. It’s interesting that despite the knife frenzy in the media I have not heard of any reaction to public carving other than surprise and genuine interest.

I often carve spoons at shows but it somehow felt very different doing it outside the doctors, the one is sort of a public performance, I am there as part of the attractions for people to watch something interesting and unusual. Carving outside the doctors I am just doing something normal, like knitting or reading a book and that is the way spooncarving should be. For anyone not sure about the legalities of carving in public in the UK basically you are allowed to have with you a non locking folding knife with blade length no more than 3 1/4″. For a larger folder, a locking folder of a fixed blade knife however big or small you have to have “good reason”. A chef on his way to work has good reason, a youth outside a night club does not. A spooncarver minding his own business outside the doctors or on the train I believe has good reason, in fact the knife is no different in the eyes of the law to a 10″ knitting needle.
Anyway let’s finish with one more photo of carving in public, this is from the back cover of the book that started my interest in spoons 20 years ago. This is Wille Sundqvist also carving on the train.

9 Responses to carving wooden spoons in public

  1. jarrod July 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    good subject to read about.

  2. paul July 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Hmm, yes. I tried this sat outside my daughters ballet lesson. I felt awfully self conscious and could not focus properly.

  3. Joel July 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Good to hear this, that there are people in the public eye carving in public. Despite the fact that I know there is nothing illegal I would still be weary of doing it myself.

  4. pfollansbee July 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Robin – Great stuff. I've carved spoons for years while watching my kids at the playground. They are now almost 7 years old…nice thing is that around here the playground surfaces are wood chips. No clean up necessary. I keep a basket of spoons underway, with the knives…just have to watch kids reaching into the basket.

  5. Robin Wood July 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    I guess we all feel self conscious first time we do anything that might attract attention to ourselves in public. I still struggle with knitting in public.

  6. Unknown July 8, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I really enjoyed the post Robin. That photo of Wille really struck me too when I first read the book. I've been looking for a passenger train around here ever since.

  7. Unknown July 8, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Robin, "Unknown" above is me. I guess I'm self-conscious about blogging in public.Dave Fisher

  8. Alex July 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    It's nice knowing other people are happy carving in playgrounds. I took up crochet so I could do something useful without worrying about kids running around indoor play areas, but I enjoy finishing off spoons in parks or outdoor playgrounds. Kids sometimes even recognise them as spoons whilst they watch! I haven't yet had any comments from an adult.Funnily, I feel more comfortable whilst using a curved knife.

  9. Scott Garrett July 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    great post Robin and Interesting to hear about the legalities of knives in public. I've been wondering about that… better stop taking them clubbing then!I'm often using them for crafts/art at home and sometimes find myself heading to the shops/pick up my kids with a knife still propped in a pocket and get a mild panic that I'll end up in court!!I have a father in law in the States who keeps sending me knives!!