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Karma and Carving
July 29, 2021 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm EDT
Karma & Carving: Spoon-carving and talk story sessions with Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey
This series met on Thursday evenings in July, 2021, and may repeat in a few months. We will let you know!
Participants joined CWC faculty member and Vipassana meditation teacher Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey for a 4-session exploration of the mysteries of labor, value, ownership, generosity, and identity – through the practice of wooden spoon-carving.
Jesse offered basic guidance on the practice of spoon-carving and invited participants into conversation about the spiritual and social dynamics that impact our understanding of the nature of work and the nature of self. Specific details follow.
All materials (tools and wood) must be acquired by participants themselves. Guidance on materials can be found below.
Participants were invited to join a Slack ‘workspace’ as soon as they registered. Slack is a communications platform that we used leading up to the session for support with carving and tools, and between sessions to share updates, photos of our work(s) in progress, articles, and generally keep the community conversation going between our online sessions. (Joining Slack is completely optional.)
READ MORE ABOUT JESSE HERE
Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey is a teacher of Vipassana (insight) meditation within the broader context of Theravadan Buddhism. His offerings aim to inspire the skills, determination, and faith necessary to realize the deepest human freedom.
Jesse first learned spoon-carving from Peter Forbes at Knoll Farm and the Center for Whole Communities, when it was based in Fayston, VT. Over the years he has benefited from the influence of many others, including folks on social media. (follow #spooncarving or #greenwoodworking hashtags on Instagram for a peek)
His training of these issues of labor, value, self, and ownership come from an often ill-fitting collision of Karl Marx’ Labor Theory of Value and the Buddha’s notion of dependent origination. Spoon-carving has provided him with a powerful medium by which to explore these issues in the most momentary internal ways – as mental intention creates physical action – to the broadest social importance – can we create an economy of non-exploitation and non-ownership, based purely on generosity and need?
During our time together, expect to:
- Learn the basics or improve your skills in carving wooden spoons
- Explore ideas about doing and being, about accomplishment and exploitation, about labor and love.
- Develop a deeper appreciation of your own ability to create and to augment the goodness that can come from that creation.
- Join a community of practice committed to learning and growing around these ideas and methods.
Basic Rules of Karma and Carving:
- Don’t be mean.
- Please talk! Please carve! But don’t do both at the same time.
- Don’t sell what you work on during our time together. Keep it for yourself or give it away.
All participants will be expected to acquire the basic materials needed for spoon-carving before the first session. This means: a straight knife, a crooked knife, and a piece of wood. These are specialized materials (you cannot use a traditional pocket-knife) that can be found very affordably or highly priced at many places online.
For beginners, we recommend that participants purchase a “spoon blank” (an already roughed-out piece of wood, shaped generally) from one of the suppliers listed below.
READ MORE ABOUT MATERIALS
You can now find spoon-carving tools all over the place online. Typing in “spoon-carving knives” into Amazon will give you a ton of options.
Basically, you need 2 knives to start: a “straight” or “sloyd” knife and a “crooked” or “hook” knife. The straight knife cannot be any old pocket knife because the blades are too thin and the tang not long enough. Here are some examples of carving knives and kits on Etsy:
Mora brand knives can be found on amazon and elsewhere. They are the most well-known, well-made mass-produced Swedish company:
If you have already learned some spoon-carving through the Center for Whole Communities, you might remember these tools:
There are now dozens of people in the US and UK making incredible tools for spoon carving. Here are some excellent craftspeople who make pricey but life-long tools:
Wooden Spoon Blanks:
You can go to a local lumber yard and usually buy scraps of hardwoods of all kinds for pretty cheap. You don’t need anything fancy. Not pine. You can pick up a stick off the ground and go with that. Prune a tree you have permission to cut. These folks below get the basic shape cut for you on a bandsaw, which can be helpful before you invest in a hatchet or drawknife and shaving mule, etc. But there is something to be said about starting from a raw piece of wood – just takes more time and patience. One thing to remember is that for an eating spoon, the bowl does not need to be very deep at all so don’t give yourself a ton of extra work starting with a super thick chunk of wood.
Searching for various hashtags on Instagram is a great way to get inspired for your spoon-carving, and also a place where you can connect with tool-makers of all kinds (and eventually spend a lot of money on archaic tools from bygone eras…)
READ MORE ABOUT OTHER RESOURCES
If you are not on IG, you can google these same words and find a bunch of cool stuff.
#greenwoodworking (refers to using freshly cut wood rather than cured dry wood)
#sloyd (refers to the Swedish school that some of these lineages are rooted in… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloyd)
Feel free to reach out to Jesse with ANY questions about your materials before you purchase them!! You can email him at jesse [at] dolessforpeace.org
Again, our series ran over 4 Thursdays in July (8, 15, 22, 29), 2021
2pm Hawaii / 5pm Pacific / 6pm Mountain/ 7pm Central / 8pm East
These sessions were offered freely by Jesse. You can support the ongoing work of CWC by offering donations here: