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-  The Carving Process  -

'Duet' - Double Cherry Bowl
by Steve Schmeck

Duet Bowl and Duet Spoon

February, 2008 - Back in the shop again! It feels good to be standing ankle deep in the aromatic cherry chips. This bowl was (is being) inspired by a recent black cherry spoon I carved.

OK, it is a bit unusual but it was intended to be a maquette (design model) for what may be a series of bowls incorporating the idea of transposed or interlocking bowl shapes.

This new bowl began its transformation journey when Sue and I came across a large Black Cherry tree out in our South woods that had recently died. I cut the trunk section into a few pieces about 2' long and split them in half so I could pick them up and move them to our carving wood storage area. Even as a half-log section it was heavy, weighing in at just over 70 pounds.


 The Carving


I've split off one side to create a more or less flat area that will become the bottom of the bowl. The blank has quite a twist and I'll take advantage of it, fitting the design to the wood.

February 9, 2008


I usually prefer to make my bowls with three legs or feet but this design seemed to call for four. That meant that the bottom had to be flatter from the beginning than a self leveling three-footed bowl.

This bowl is (are?) moving right along. You can see the general shape. Sue inelegantly calls this the 'dead pig' stage. In front of the bowl is the #9 sweep, 30mm gouge I used for most of the rough-out process so far.


I have begun carving down the top into the major planes, while still leaving the center area intact. I still need that strong pillar to secure the bowl when I turn it back over to refine the bottom shapes.

This piece is beginning to look more bowl-like. I was stymied by the under-cut areas beneath the rims within the two bowls. I just didn't seem to have the tools to work those upside-down, against-the-grain areas. I bought three new gouges (any excuse to acquire more carving tools) and things are going much better now.   3/12/2008

April 2009 Update - I didn't get this bowl completed before shutting down the carving shop last summer. In December I finally got back to work on it. On the spoon, at the top of the page, I spent a lot of time carving out the middle, overlapped area and was looking forward to working on a larger scale on this piece. No peace. Just a larger piece. The bowl dried down very nicely with no indications of stress in the rim areas. A good thing! 

At one point I thought the bowl might need some special edge treatment but now that the shape has been refined I'm liking the simple, flowing lines of the two intersecting shapes and don't want to detract from that by fancying up the rims.  

4/3/2009  - I just finished the sanding  phase and have applied the first coat of oil finish. It is nice to see the glow of that cherry grain. Only a couple more weeks of finish work and this bowl will be complete. 

4/16/2009  - The 'Duet' bowl is finished at last. It took a bit longer to complete than I had planned but was worth the time for me. As is often the case, by not rushing through this project, I was able to make some subtle refinements along the way; little things that had I blitzed along, I might have missed. All in all, I do like how this bowl turned out especially when displayed with the spoon that inspired it.

Duet bowl and spoon
     "Duet" Wild Black Cherry Bowl
This bowl and the Duet Spoon are in a Private Collection


Way back in February of 2008 I stated that I had planned to make a series of bowls incorporating the intersecting objects theme. That may still happen but I can assure you that this is 'one-of-a-kind' piece. That said, I am looking forward to getting into a nice fresh piece of black cherry (or possibly a big piece of English Black Locust) that are out by the woodshed. Who knows what direction it will lead.

Here is a link to a few more photos of this bowl...