March 14

The Circle and Mysteries of Life

McMullen Valley
McMullen Valley

No talk of painting this week.

Please bear with the twists of the story.

About a decade ago, I was looking up on Amazon information on yurts. Every so often they have books on the recommended list that look interesting. I put one in the cart and waited.

I’d never heard of the author, but found a book with incredible images of his home, a 3 story yurt, and his Maine coastline, and even more incredible words.

In “A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity” by William S. Coperthwaite, (listed on my Amazon carousel) I found words that struck a cord in me. He commented on the state of education and his philosophy, as a Ph.D.Ed., of a new way of teaching. Mr. Coperthwaite believed in an educational system that included hands on physical work.

I was one of those students with more than a few ants in his pants and the need to expel the energy of a young male. I could have used that type of teaching.

What also struck me was his desire to learn from ancient cultures the handicrafts that were being lost. He traveled to the arctic circle to learn of the Eskimo crafts in handmade kayaks, fishing lures, folk art, and the crook knife.

Mr. Coperthwaite, I’ll now call him B.C., (W.C. just isn’t right!) also traveled to Lapland in Norway and the upper reaches of Sweden. One craft BC learned was something called nalbinding, a form of making items of wool using one needle. He called it “Witless Knitting” in a tongue-in-cheek way.

I searched on-line to learn the craft of nalbinding. The website said it was best to learn with an instructor.

One track in BC’s book I hooked onto, was spoon carving. I went on-line and came across Drew Langsner’s “Green Woodworking.” In the very beginning of my RV travels I was looking to find a craft or hobby that was portable. With the “Green Woodworking” book, I had envisioned fulltiming in an RV and carving spoons on the road. I thought it might be a fun way to create a little income of cash in my travels

Inside the Langsner book there were photos of spoons made by a craftsman from Sweden. Again I looked up a name and found Willie Sundqvist had a book, but was out of print and going for over $50, used!

Just this past fall, I found out that Willie Sundqvist’s “Swedish Carving Techniques” was being reprinted. I ordered it right away and the DVD that his son, Jogge, made on spoon making and dough bowl carving.

So with this new carving book, DVD, and a carving knife in hand I began dreaming again about carving and travel.

At Christmas time, for some reason, I looked on-line again for Mr. Coperthwaite and found a notice of his passing. The week of Thanksgiving he passed away from a single car accident. I ordered a Kindle copy of his book (I was on the road) and reread it.

After the new year, I began carving the easier butter paddle/spreader in the Sundqvist book. Within about 3 weeks I had carved 10 items. One item I didn’t find in the carving book but was something I believe I developed on my own out of a need.

After 3 days of carving butter speaders, and wanted something different to carve.

I like toast and honey, and one morning as I dipped a knife into the honey, twirling it this way and that, I still drizzled it over the plate and lost that sweet nectar. I realized I wanted another utensil. I thought of the wands used for honey. They also had to be twisted and often left a trail of the hard work of bees on the counter. It came to me, my next carving challenge….a spoon and spreader combination. I thought of BC. He wrote of the beauty of ordinary handmade items.

Out of a need, I carved what I call, a “Honey Scoop.”

honey scoop #4

I went back to the web, wanting to learn more about Willie Sundqvist. I found a page on the Kickstarter funding site that his son Jogge started. He wanted to make a film about his father and the history of his life as a teacher of manual arts and carving. I was too late to donate to the film project, and receive a copy of the DVD in return. I had to get one!

On the website where I’d purchased a special tool for decorating my peices, I saw on the front page that he would be getting a lot of 100 DVD’s of the documentary on Willie Sundqvist. I placed a pre-order right then and there.

Just 2 weeks ago, I opened the package with the documentary and read over the cardboard DVD case. On the back, was Jogge Sundqvist’s “thank you” to the major donors that helped fund the making of the film. To my astonishment, I read that a couple donated to the film “in honor of Bill Coperthwaite”!

There it was, a circle that had begun being drawn over a decade ago. A fluke purchase of a book that sounded interesting, with different threads of research, and the circle was completed.

Now I’ll be traveling the country carving items to sell and it all started with William S. Coperthwaite’s  book on a life of simplicity. That is what I want to create on the road.

There is the circle and mystery of life.

I will be carving spoons and other items when I’m freed up from painting and cleaning the house to sell.

Thank you for coming on this journey.

#1-10 My first carvings
#1-10 My first carvings

Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.

Posted March 14, 2014 by RLK in category "Uncategorized


  1. By jimmyk on

    Thanks for sharing the background to finding your passion. Your pieces look very well-made. I especially like the ones that look like spatulas with an angled edge. I can’t wait to see these on our visit

    1. By RLK (Post author) on

      Thanks Jimmyk,
      Those are the butter spreaders.
      There is a peace while carving. Nice to sit and listen to the game and whittle away.
      See you soon.

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