Thursday, April 11, 2013

Whittling away

Because I need another hobby like I need another hole in my head, I've started whittling a little bit.  It's not really a new thing.  Like, I already knew how to do it and have done it before.  But now I am seeing the potential for this new thing to complement my other hobbies and create things that complement what is already in my etsy shop.

Below you will see my most recent creation, a 3-in-1 spinning tool.  It is a nostepinne, wrist distaff, and WPI tool in one, carved from an oak branch I found lying on the sidewalk in the rain.

This tool has a fun story.  I was on my way out the other day when I looked out the window and spotted this little branch on the sidewalk.  All the way to my destination, I thought about that branch and decided that if it was still there on the way home, I'd snag it and carve it up into a wrist distaff.

It was there as I drove home, so I pulled over, hopped out of the car (in the rain) and rescued that branch.  I put it in the oven to dry it out, curing it for about an hour and a bit at 175F.  This dried out the wood and also killed any little bugs that may have been making their home inside.  Then I set myself down at the kitchen sink (I don't have a dedicated workspace and the sink with some papertowels in it caught all the woodchips and dust) with my little knife and began to whittle.

I removed most of the bark, but not all.  I deliberately left the bark on around the top.  I removed the knots down the length of the twig, but again left them on the top.  I smoothed out the tip where it had been broken.  As I worked it over, I decided that it should also have a WPI notch at the top, so I measured and carved it out.  Then I began to sand it.  I worked it over with progressively finer paper from 120 to 600 grit.  The areas where I hadn't removed all the bark worked out darker than the other areas.  The WPI area was worked over with a nailfile as well as sandpaper (I needed a nice, well-defined edge).  I drilled a hole and sanded it through with a round metal file.

I wiped it down and finished it by rubbing it with a thin coat of mineral oil.  I worked the oil in with a cotton ball first, then a paper towel, then my hands until it was absorbed all the way through.  The final coat was beeswax to protect the wood.

I wrapped a piece of smokey quartz in goldtone wire and used the same sort of wire to create a bail for a leather wriststrap.

I love the final product.  It's so smooth and soft to touch.  The mineral oil brought out the colour of the wood so very beautifully.

So now I'm on the hunt for more twigs like this one.  Unwanted, discarded, destined for the mulch pile or the fireplace.  This piece is spoken for, but I can't wait to create more for the shop.

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