Saturday, February 25, 2012

Carving a Kuksa

So what is a Kuksa I hear you say! Well it's a carved wooden drinking vessel that is generally carved from green wood and is an old Scandinavian design.

The following pictures are from Jons Bushcraft Site and a post that describes how to carve one.

The next photo is from Handmade From Wood take a trip to this site and browse through the Kuksa posting.

I have carved three bowls, two being of the Kuksa design and one just being a small bowl to get to grips with the technique.

This first attempt I've finished in a contemporary way with a lead free enamel paint and green ink and varnish finish. The picture shows the Kuksa pre varnish.

Here it is finished in varnish on the outside and non toxic enamel paint on the inside of the bowl. A modern look for an ancient vessel.

This next set of pictures is of a small bowl carved from cedar and then oiled and decorated with Elder Futhark runes and a Celtic Dragon. It's not strictly a Kuksa but i have chosen to include it in this post as it shows how thin you can go with the carving. The bowl wall thickness varies but is about 3mm. the end grain shows light through it.

This guy is so delicate but surprisingly strong.

The base is a coil of leather stuck to the bottom to stabilise it. The decoration is applied with a pyrography machine post oiling.

With a link to my post on carving tools here is the spoon carving knife used to create such wonderful items. It's hard on the hands but really satisfying.

This next one, again one of mine and being from ash, the photo showing it partially carved and sitting in a tin to keep it from drying out too quickly.

The trick is to gather up the shavings created and cover the carving with them and sealing the tin while the carving is being, well, carved. In between sittings so to speak. Once it's finished then allow air into the tin by not sealing it fully and eventually take the lid off. Be careful not to do this too soon. I had this carving sealed for a week, on and off carving. Then partially open (but still covered in the shavings) for a week then with lid off for another 3 to 4 days. Probably overkill but this carving hurt and took a lot of effort, last thing I needed was for it to dry out too quickly and split. Let's remember it's supposed to hold liquids.

This is the Kuksa With the bowl carved but the handle to be finished. A split appeared on the back edge which is frustrating, it tells me that I removed too much too soon and it dried out too quickly. I'm keeping the lip of the bowl waves as I like the look.

So far I think mine have been on the small side and I need to get some green wood thats larger.

The handles on mine are too, well, handle like. Will experiment some more and post again.

The split was fixed by slowing down the drying process and a small application of superglue!

In the next few pictures it's been sanded and finished ready to take the oil I use, which is vegetable oil

Here it is with the handle carved and the Kuksa oiled. I love the colour of the ash and how it gives this Kuksa a unique look.

This picture gives a sense of scale to the piece. The design of the handle is to allow for a leather lanyard to be attached to the Kuksa.

And finally a great post on Kuksa from Skills For Wild Lives

Your comments as always are welcome.

Don't forget I have a final post on the Carvers Friend (pt3) coming up. I may post it next week now.


~ Dave ~


Waldgeistman said...

I love carving Kuksa's. I like the handle design at the end of the handle it just finishes off a great bowl.

ArtPropelled said...

I've never seen a spoon carving knife..... nor have i carved green wood before. Thanks for all the tips Dave. Great looking piece with the bird handle.

Dave Jones said...

Thanks Waldgeistman. It's hard work but very very satisfying. I shall christen the bowl with a dram of whiskey once the oils dried out.

Thanks Robyn. I saw my first one when google searching for images for the Celtic Warriors and decided to look into it, that's where I saw my first knife that carves bowls. It's not expensive but a great tool.

Maarten said...

Thanks for the share!
Just started on my first kuksa and looking for of info!

Your kuksa's looking great!

Best regards