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cactus fruit eating kit

Cactus fruit eating kit

In early 2000, I spent some time living on the Canary Islands. The area was arid semi-desert and prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) grew abundantly. The fruits were edible and delicious, but the small, hair-like spines that grew in clusters on them were very painful if they pierced the skin, as well as being very hard to see when trying to remove them.

 

cactus fruit

Image from: http://landscapingchennai.com/nutritional-value-of-cactus-fruit/

I therefore carved a pair of cactus fruit eating tools to safely eat these fruit. They came in extremely useful!

 

wooden cactus fruit eating kit

 

The pronged tool would be pushed into the fruit, then twisted to remove it from the plant. The sharp-edged spoon end of the other tool was used to slice open and peel away the skin of the fruit. The scoop- shaped other end of this tool was then used to gouge out any remaining tufts of hair-like spines. The fruit could be held on the pronged tool and eaten using the spoon-like other tool. Juice ran away down a slit in the pronged tool, which was shaped like a cactus flower.

 

cactus fruit eating kit

 

Stone and Meerschaum Carving

Now and again, I like to try carving something other than wood. Although it must be said that working with timber is where I am happiest, a challenge is always good too. The carving above was shown at the ‘Mythic Garden‘ exhibition near Drewsteignton, Devon in the summer of 2004. Apparently the stone originally came from a wall facing which fell off the ‘Queen’s Building’ at Exeter University years before.

 

Stone carving at the Mythic garden on Dartmoor

 

This is another stone carving, of sorts. It was carved on and off between 1997 and 2002 and is a pipe bowl made of meerschaum that represents the green man, with fruit, birds and a snail hidden in the foliage. These photos were taken before the finishing wax had been applied. The bowl has not had a stem made for it yet.

 

green man meerschaum pipe bowl

dscn1229

handcarved meerschaum pipe bowl one of a kind

 

Pendants carved by hand

I have been carving pendants since I first began whittling and woodcarving. For many years they gave me a chance to create work that required little in the way of tools (just my Opinel knife and some sandpaper) and could utilise little fragments and splinters of wood which were easy to carry in a backpack.

 

wooden pendants carved using a knife

 

These pendants were carved to represent the seasons. the plants are ones which are particularly associated with each season in Britain. From the left, primroses come out in spring, bluebells in summer, blackberries in autumn and ivy stays green all through the winter.

 

carved oak sculpture, with inlaid stone

 

This piece ws carved from a fragment of holm oak collected at a youth hostel in Oieras, Portugal (where this type of wood is known as azinho). The wood had been previously charred in a fire, which darkened and hardened it. The inset stone is a piece of calcite collected in a valley named San Pedro in Almeria, Spain where I was staying at the time. It was smoothed by rubbing against an old whetstone. The beautiful desert valley has a group of hippies and travellers living in it. This carving is so-called because it was carved on the beach at San Pedro on the first day of the new millennium.

 

wooden pendants carved using a knife

 

Like all of these pendants, these ones were both carved using my four-inch bladed Opinel lock knife.

 

Lilies pendant carved using a knife

Dragon castle whittling

Dragon and Castle

This detailed small sculpture shows a dragon lying around a small hill with a castle built onto it. There are towers, steps and even a waterfall. It was carved from strongly scented Camphor Laurel wood, which was used in China to make map cases and storage for clothes as it repels moths.

In Australia, the introduced tree is now quite invasive. This piece of timber was found in a firewood pile at a youth hostel in Byron Bay, New South Wales. I was working as a woodchopper for a place to stay – perhaps my ideal job at the time!

 

Wooden dragon sculpture

 

I started carving it while in Australia and continued working on and off on the sculpture for quite a while after returning to the UK.

 

camphor laurel wood carving

carved wooden bowl

Carved Wooden Bowls with Inscriptions

These bowls, like a lot of my earlier work, were made from found wood. The textured and smooth surfaces are wonderful to touch and the bowls themselves become robust containers for the stories which they acquire; from initially finding the wood to the places which the pieces travel to after being finished.

 

fern worthy forest bowl inscription

 

This charred, textured and scraped bowl was made from beech wood, which had come from a tree that grew high up on the wild and rugged plateau of Dartmoor.

 

carved wooden bowls

 

When I picked up the timber, left over from tree felling operations, this is what I could see:

 

Fernworthy forest dartmoor

 

The second carved bowl has charcoal on the rim which has been solidified using resins. The piece of wood came from a large arts complex and squat in Berlin called ‘Kunsthaus Tacheles‘.

 

Kunsthaus Tacheles Berlin 2004

 

I found it, already charred, in a long-dead fire on the snowy ground outside the building. I have heard that since then, the squat has been forcibly closed down. If you don’t read German, the inscription says:

‘Tacheles is an old Jewish word which means to make things clear, that is to get to the point’

 

Tacheles carved wooden bowl

 

When beginning to make these sculptures in 2004, I was studying the work of the artist Richard Long, who can condense the tale of a walk of a thousand miles into a picture of a spiral which traces the path. Short pieces of text are carved onto each bowl, telling a little about where the wood came from, so hopefully beginning the process of holding tales which these bowls were made for.

 

carved wooden bowl

 

The following cherry wood bowl was made for the fifth wedding anniversary of two friends in 2009. The blackened outside was made, like the bowl above, by scorching the bowl with a blowtorch.

 

carved cherry wood bowl
In Britain, wooden gifts are traditionally given to celebrate the fifth anniversary. The quotation carved onto the bowl is from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

‘What is now proved was once only imagined’

 

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