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Welsh Love Spoons Introduction

Welsh Love Spoons

Introduction

By L.S. Irish

Please note: There are a lot of subjects to cover when carving spoons, so we have broken this tutorial down into four topics.

Welsh Love Spoons Tutorial:
Welsh Love Spoons Introduction
Basic Cutting Techniques
Open Linked Chain
Ball and Cage

Welsh Love Spoons are a wonderful style of wood carving that began in the mid 1600’s as a courtship gift. Created by the young man as a present for his intended bride, the intricacies and themes carved on the spoon’s handle had symbolic meanings.

Click here for a close-up of the Welsh Love Spoon
Click here for full sized pattern

 

Today the giving of Welsh Love Spoons have been expanded to include wedding presents, anniversary presents, house warming gifts and even baby shower gifts. For those wood carvers that sell their finished work Love Spoons make a extremely eye catching item at craft fairs and art shows. They have become a very collectable hand crafted artform.

The intricacies of the handle designs offers an opportunity for the carver to explore a wide range of pattern work, from tight Celtic knots, floral crests, and of course the open linked chain.

Love spoons are traditionally carved from one piece of wood and you will note a sailing theme that runs throughout many of the carved symbols. Welsh sailors, spending many long and lonely hours at sea, used the time to carve spoons for the girl that they had left at home. As artists their work reflected their daily experiences.

Celtic knots worked from the rigging ropes came to mean “everlasting love” while the anchor design was used to show that the sailors heart was “home to stay or anchored at home with her”. The ship’s wheel showed his intentions to “work hard for her and the family she would give him.”

Agricultural designs also are prominent in the Welsh Love Spoon. The ship’s wheel is also show as a wagon wheel, again showing the man’s intentions of becoming a good provider for the family. Twisted vines and leaves showed a “love that would continue to grow throughout the years”. The horse shoe, just as it still does today, meant “good luck and good fortunes ahead”.

Another symbol that was common is the heart which showed “his love for her”, the double heart meaning a “shared or returned love”, and the heart shaped spoon bowl suggesting a “life full of love”.

Both the bell and cross were “will you marry me” symbols and the cross also implied “faith”. Flowers within the carving ask if he “may court her” and showed his growing affection for her.

How intricate and complicated the carving of the spoon was came to show how intense his love for her was. From this came double spoons showing that “they would be together forever” and even triple spoons for “their growing family”.

The open link chain and ball in cage carving are often found in Welsh Love Spoons. Worked from one piece of wood the open link chain is used to connect the different design pieces. The number of links in the chain came to mean the “number” of the symbols used … the number of children he was hoping she would give him … the number of years they would be together. The ball and cage showed that “he would protect her love”.
Using the symbols of the Welsh Love Spoons, the sample spoon shown at the top of this page includes a Celtic Knot that has the shape of two hearts, a vine twist below the second heart, and a horse shoe shape just above the bowl created by the ends of the knot strings..

Double Heart: They love each other, a shared love
Celtic Knot: Everlasting love
Vine Twist: Our love will grow
Horse Shoe: Good luck and good fortune

The second sample of the Welsh Love Spoon above could be read as the following:

Single Heart: May I court court you?
Vine Twist: Our love will grow
Three Link Chain: Married within three years
Ball in Cage: Your love is safe with me
Heart Shaped Spoon: We will have a life full of love

FREE Love Spoon Patterns
Pattern 1 – Celtic Knot
Pattern 2 – Ball and Chain
Pattern 3 – Cattails and Grapes
Pattern 4 – Woodspirit & Dogwood

Wood Carving Canes, Walking Sticks, & Wizard Wands

 

carving walking sticks and canes

Walking Sticks and canes are a favorite wood carving project for both beginning carvers to the most advanced woodworker. This free, online project by Lora Irish will take you through the basic techniques used in choosing your wood staffs and sticks, wood carving cane toppers, cane construction, and finishing used for walking sticks. Learn how to use wood burning in your cane carving to clean the joint lines of your carving and add fine details. Explore the different steps you can use to add bright, bold painted coloring.

cane, walking stick, and wizard wand carving

Wood Carving, Relief Carving, Carving Techniques, Wood Carving Projects
Canes, Walking Sticks, Chip, Spoon, Scroll Saw, Carving Techniques

 

how to carve canesAvailable at Amazon.com wood cane carving patternsCane Handles & Walking Stick Pattern Package at ArtDesignsStudio.com cane carving pdfWood Carving PDF E-Project at
ArtDesignsStudio.com

Relief Carving Canada Goose Supply List

Relief Canada Goose Supply List

I have listed the tools that I used during this relief project.  You do not need these exact brands or products.  As this is a beginner’s level work, so please use what tools you already have.  The manufacturers are listed in case you see a tool, tool set, or wood burner that you particularly like.

Below are either Amazon affiliate links or links directly to the manufacturer’s website.

lsirish-001-0838

Schaaf Wood Carving Tools: Set of 12 with Canvas Case – Full Size Gouges and Chisels for Beginners, Hobbyists and Professionals | Sharp, Quality-Tested CR-V 60 Steel Blades

Chipping Away:  (I have used my Chipping Away Large knife for almost three decades … and it just performs perfectly every time.)
Large chip carving knife
white fine ceramic sharpening stone
brown coarse ceramic sharpening stone
leather strop and rouge

Ramelson Tools: (I began with Ramelson and still find myself reaching for their tools during every project)
UJ Ramelson Basic Woodcarving Tool Set

Japanese Carving Sets: (This is a great set for almost all wood carving projects and the sets that I use  for spoon carving as well as relief carving. The small hand set includes a bull nose chisel, one of my favorites.)
WAYCOM 24PCS Wood Knife Kit Set Wood Carving Kit,Professional Chisel Set, including Small, Middle, Large size (24PCS)

Walnut Hollow Wood Plaques, Oval Edge Plaque, 11″ x 14″, basswood

Walnut Hollow Creative Woodburner: Wire Tip Wood Burning Tool (This is their variable temperature tool with interchangeable wire tips, perfect if you also do wood burning.)

Walnut Hollow Creative Versa Tool: with Variable Temperature Control for Woodburning, 11 Points (Tips), Original Version, Basic Pack  (This is their one piece rheostat tool which is great if you are just starting in wood burning or if you will only be doing burned details on your carvings.)

Optima Wood Burner: small round shader tip, modified (ball) writing tip, coarse hair tip  (Fantastic unit for advanced burners.)

Detailer Basic Woodburning Kit: ( FTC standard writing tip, FTD small round tip, FT Ball 3 round tip  (Fantastic unit for advanced burners and it comes with Sue Walter’s Book, Pyrography Workbook!)

Flexcut Slipstrop: Sharpening Kit with Strop and Gold Polishing Compound

Saral Graphite Transfer Paper:  (I like Saral because of its soft gray coloring.  Its great for wood burning where you might not be able to remove all of your tracing lines.)

Set of Rifling Files:  SE 10-Piece 7” Riffler File Set – 736RF (This is a small set of files that let’s you get into your undercuts and sharp joint lines)

ink pen for tracing
pencil for marking the board
compass
file folder or index cards for depth gauges
bracing board or bench hook:  (DIY instructions here at LSIrish.com)
non-skid rubber kitchen matt
Minwax Water-Based Sanding Sealer
assorted grits, including 220 grit sandpaper
assorted sift ox hair brushes for dusting
assorted oil paint/ox hair brushes for painting
polyurethane spray sealer
Acrylic craft paints: titanium white, medium earth red-brown, yellow ocher, Paynes gray, carbon black, hooker green
Oil paint for antiquing: burnt umber, turpentine, linseed oil
clean cotton t-shirt material for antiquing

Wood Carving Techniques

LSIrish.com has 146 articles, posts, pages, and projects dedicated to wood carving.

Basic Wood Carving Techniques – 69
Beginners Relief Carving Projects – 26
Relief Carving Projects – 26
Chip Carving – 21
Spoon Carving – 14
Scroll Saw – 14

 

 

Wood Carving Basics Walking Sticks Chip Carving         Mule Deer Relief
      American Heroes Chip Carving Patterns altered art wood carving             Altered Art bent round gougeSpoon Carving
scroll saw cutting a wood carving spoon blank     Scroll Saw wood caving the wooden spoonBasic Tool Kit            Cane Carving Cane and walking stick wood carving
Wizard Wands
free wood carving cane instructions by Lora Irish          Snake Cane Triangle Chips in Chip Carving    Chip Carving Motifs            Fish Decoys          Finishing Steps
Relief wood carving by Lora Irish   High Relief Shadows Celtic Dragon Wood Carving by Lora Irish          Celtic Dragon       Birch Bark Carving          Tiki Chess Set
         Canada Goose Altered Art Wood Carving

Stop Cuts

Sharpening
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