Of Copper, Wood and Smoke

By November 26, 2012 Bones & Blood, Woodworking 11 Comments

Steel awl with carved Western Red Cedar handle

I’ve been busily working away at ritual tools (when I’m not brewing more flying ointments and packaging orders for the Poisoner’s Apothecary). The second creation I finished is the steel awl pictured above with a carved Western Red Cedar handle, inspired by fiddleheads and ram horns. I just couldn’t resist playing with the beautiful grain of this beautiful wood I ritually harvested last winter with The Shaman who forged the steel awl.

Cutting copper with a fretsawThe boys came over on Friday and we all sat in my kitchen with tea and our crafting projects. The Poisoner (aka The Whyrrd) sat patiently filing away the rough edges of mammoth tusk pieces for a set of runes he’s making. He’s old fashioned like me and likes to do as much as he can by hand, putting intention into a piece as he works (he sometimes carves wood and bone, but is a silversmith). The Shaman brought his vice and carefully cut out small boline shapes out of copper with a fretsaw and then filed, sanded, and polished them up after. He crafted handles for them out of yew wood I’d harvested two winters ago on the full wolf moon.

Unfinished bolines, knives, and awls

We finished crafting the handles for all the knives, bolines, and awls out of alder, blackthorn, cedar, hazel, and oak. I put corks on the awl tips and wrapped them with masking tape to prevent me from stabbing myself when carving the handles.  As these are meant to be working tools, I’ll be keeping the carving fairly simple.
Wood blocks drilled to make pipes

While the boys worked on their projects I worked on some smoking pipes for the apothecary. I drilled two holes in each piece of wood: a large shallow one for the bowl and one for the stem. Once they were drilled, I set to work shaping them with my boxcutter and new chisels. I went to Lee Valley and the Vancouver Flea Market last week with The Poisoner to pick up proper tools for all the crafting I want to do. I brought home a wood-handled folding saw, small Japanese chisels, a carving knife, and two sets of fine small files (for bone carving).

Olive wood pipes with fox bone stems

Handcarved pipes of ebony, rosewood, and olive wood with bone stems

Of course, I had to pick the hardest woods for the pipe bowls, so carving was slow going, but well worth the reward as the wood sanded and polished beautifully – so smooth and shiny! A touch of linseed oil on the sides to finish and they were gorgeous. I like a bit of length to my pipes and so cut some stems from fox leg bones, filing, sanding and polishing them to a sheen. I fitted the rosewood and olive wood pipes with the fox bone stems and crafted a crow bone stem to go with the black ebony pipe. I’m rather pleased with how they turned out – I keep stroking their smooth bodies…

Rough copper ring with three unfinished alder wood skulls

The Shaman also made some ring prototypes from copper, simple and engraved with runes. We’re toying with making rings and bracelets engraved with bindrunes for magic; protection, prosperity, luck… Today I finished the rosewood and ebony pipes and so started carving some small skulls this evening from a branch of red alder wood. I’m going to use them to make poison spirit vessels (I’ve been collecting specimens). They’re still rough and I have many more to make, but I sliced my thumb open and so am taking a break until tomorrow.  Sharp knives are sharp and red blood is red.

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • cindywestfall says:

    Love these pieces, especially that crow-bone and ebony pipe! Great work. I always enjoy seeing the fruits of your creativity.
    I’m also looking forward to seeing your spirit vessels. I’m thinking of crafting one myself in the future, actually, for Mullein, (which I’ve been developing a relationship with).

  • Dver says:

    Are these pipes going to be for sale? I have a connection to fox that would make such a pipe simply perfect for ritual use! Amazing work, either way.

  • Cin says:

    It cracks me up that your skulls are made out of the tree that I am most allergic too. Like the death cows that are out to get me here.. I have a death tree I guess… lol <3

  • Lovely work, as usual. I love the skulls and look forward to see the spirit vessels. Blessings.

  • Jose Prado says:

    What are Poison Spirit Vessels? I’m afraid I’m new to all this.

  • Wonderful work. The Fiddlehead inspired piece is stunning and I love the idea of the spirit vessel skulls. I applaud the craftsmanship I see in all the photos. Too many of us have lost the connection that comes from working with natural materials and actually doing the work, instead of letting a power tool do it for us. There’s a bond that is forged I think, when we spend the hours required to do it the old fashioned way. I’ve only carved one piece, a small fat goddess, but she and I know each other now. I hope the sliced finger heals quickly.

  • I love the fiddlehead piece