30 April 2015

Pitch-black Spoon

I bought some ebony wood loast year. I left it on the shelf for a long time because it is very hard wood and I didn't feel prepared to carve it yet.
I was not quite sure what spoon to carve from it. In my mind, ebony was linked with intricate, exotic statues and hair combs. I could find one or two pictures of ebony spoons on the internet, but those were so complicated that they could be used only for collecting dust.
Then I was inspired by wooden hair pins and I drew several possible spoon designs. I carved one of them from birch wood and it came out very well.

So I cut into the ebony carving block for the first time. I thought: "Well, it isn't so hard!" but then I had to stop carving after 15 minutes because my strained wrist started to hurt. My knife was so blunt after three carving sessions, that it could not cut into the wood anymore. I realised that I really had to sharpen my knife every day when carving from ebony.

Working with ebony is really peculiar:
  • the shavings fly further away and they look like pieces of charcoal (they even contain tiny glittering speckles like charcoal)
  • ebony has a very strange smell - you know it's wood, but it also resembles a whiff of smoke and maybe something else that I could not identify
  • it splits easily in some directions, but it seems homogeneous and hard like rock in other directions
  • it is an ideal material for sanding and polishing - the fibers never rise again after washing, so the wood is not hairy
  • the surface was quite smooth after 120 grit sandpaper, higher grits only added more gloss
  • ebony does not float in water and it even repels water a bit

The hardest part was to hollow out the bowl. The best method was to dig it with Dremel and high speed cutter and finish it with a spoon knife.

I bought very thin high speed cutter bit to carve the decoration on the handle. If I had some skill with the high speed cutting, maybe I could carve the whole pattern (except the corners)... but I prefered to stay away from the borders to avoid cutting away something I shouldn't. It looked quite ugly...

But after removing some unnecessary wood, it looked much better :)

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