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Kuksa carving (for lazy carvers)

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Wazza kuksa?!

A kuksa is the traditional wooden cup made & used by the Sami people in Lappland - northern Scandinavia. Traditionally they are made of birch burls - kind of halfround three growths you'll find on a number of species but particularly on birch.
Those burls ('broussin' in French) grow as a reaction on a stress - can be an injury, a virus or a fungus - compare it to a tumor as you want. The wood in those burls has no traditional growth rings and is very dense.
Kuksa's are beautiful pieces of art. Not one kuksa is the same bacause the shape of a kuksa depends on the shape of the burl.

For years I planned making one my own, but until a few weeks ago I didn't got the chance to find the right burl.
Until a few weeks ago, so.
I found a lovely burl on a dead olive three, making me the luckiest person on earth - at that moment.

So I started carving.

Kuksa carving is basic craftwork. All you need is a saw to cut the burl, a hatchet to rawshape, a knife (traditionally a 'puukko' or a special 'crooked knife') to dig it out and some sandpaper to fineshape. Basic craftwork, everyone can do it.
But, I forgot one other thing you need: PATIENCE.

I've got a wife to love, a crazy dog, some even more crazier cats, unconventional parents, some great friends, a good health, a mind filled with crazy plans and two hands to realize them. I've got it all.
But I've got no patience.

So instead of making a kuksa with a knife I made some shortcuts - as always.

Sorry to all those who claim that a kuksa shouldn't be made with power tools. This I'ble is no propaganda for the use of electric power, it's just the way bricobart did it. Free to decide.
 
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Mattrox28 days ago

So beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

nancyjohns1 month ago

That kukusa looks GREAT. I'm really into woodworking and my dad dose tree work and he just cut one down with a burl. He cut the burl off so I'll try to talk him into me keeping it........

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jesse40158 months ago
how salty of water? I'm trying to find the perfect burl here in northwest PA and northeast OH and i'm taking notes!
bricobart (author)  jesse40157 months ago
The salty as possible, this ain't no rocket science you know...
Victor8o58 months ago
I'm lucky I live in Spain, here there is plenty of olive trees fields, some day I'll grab my bike and my pruning saw and I'll go to find a nice burl, this instructable has inspired my a lot.
Thanks.
bricobart (author)  Victor8o57 months ago
Thanx mate, and good luck!!!
AMDHamm8 months ago
Nice job indeed. Kuksa are great utilitarian items and very enjoyable to make and use. I love carrying mine while camping, hiking or even using at home in the winter.

Get permission to cut the burls if it is not on your property. It is illegal otherwise to remove them. Be certain to seal an above ground wounds with end grain sealer or, if below ground, cover the wound with dirt. Since burls are the result of a wound to a tree, most likely another burl will grow where one has been removed. Keep the tree alive and it may continue to reward us for generations.
Tazmjm698 months ago
All I can say is wow! It's beautiful
Jobar0079 months ago
It looks great. Thanks for the ideas that this 'ible has generated. I would suggest to use a drying oil though instead of olive oil. Olive oil doesn't dry (read it will be sticky until enough grime has built up to no longer be slick. Also, it can go rancid. If it did, you would get sick whenever you used this. I learned this one the hard way....
bricobart (author)  Jobar0079 months ago
Good to learn new stuff, thanx! Wich oil do you propose? Lineseed, for example?
Linseed is a good oil and is common but tends to have heavy metal chemical dryers which I don't care for. Raw linseed oil that doesn't have them takes forever to cure. One that I personally prefer is walnut (can be found in grocery stores) but it carries a potential food allergy. Pure Tung Oil is another good alternative but sourcing pure Tung Oil without dryers is problematic or cost prohibitive.
bricobart (author) 9 months ago
Thanx to everyone who voted for me in the craft contest, so glad I made it to the first rows! Your support was heartwarming, before all...
nancyjohns9 months ago
AWESOME!!! Where do you go to legally do that?
bricobart (author)  nancyjohns9 months ago
I try to stay away from private territory - I said I tried - and I just keep my eyes open all the time...
BrittLiv9 months ago
Wow, this is beyond beautiful! Very good job on the write-up, too.
bricobart (author)  BrittLiv9 months ago
Thanx Brittliv, it's the tree who did the job - all I did was cutting away everything that didn't look like a kuksa (like one member said) ;)
spark master9 months ago
I carve walking sticks and spoons on occasion, this is vera vera pretty. I think I would hold off on linseed oil if I am going to drink from it. Better to melt a bit of bees wax into mineral oil and rub that in, or buy a wax made for that purpose. It is truly special anyone can see.

I would like to see the lazy carver as well!

you could burn out some of the wood, but that is arduous and smelly, not wholey unpleasant though.

thanks for this instructable it was very nice.
bricobart (author)  spark master9 months ago
Thanx spark master, many people mentioned that mineral oil. I'm really gonna use this!
bricobart (author)  spark master9 months ago
Thanx for the positive feedback, what do you mean with mineral oil? Car oil? Really?! ;)
static bricobart9 months ago
While mineral oil is a petroleum product it isn't motor oil, and long been used to protect wood surfaces that come into contact food, because it doesn't become rancid. The body doesn't absorb mineral oil, and it passes out the digestive tract. sometimes used as a constipation remedy
bricobart (author)  static9 months ago
Thanx static, I'll look out for this product this weekend. Really curious!
And when I mentioned 'car oil' I was kidding, believe me ;)
He's actually talking about boiled linseed oil, since it can contain metallic drying agents (linseed can take weeks to harden). In a specialty grocery store you can find raw linseed oil as flaxseed oil. Mineral oil is baby oil without fragrance, often used for cutting boards and the like. Flax (linseed) and walnut oil are the only two naturally drying oils that I'm aware of, but they do dry eventually and don't leave a sticky residue that olive, vegetable or mineral oil can. That said, I've often used whatever is on the counter to finish my spoons and they turn out fine :) Fine luck you had finding that burl!


spark master says: Jul 15, 2013. 8:58 AMReply

If the masters of sculpture could have used hammer drills , they would have. I can't see Michelangelo turning down air driven hammers/chisels grinders etc. Maybe hand tools while gingerly carving the "delicate parts" of "David" or the "Pieta".

And thanks grand panda for explaining the mineral oil thing. I have a friend who always used olive oil and since my wooden spoons go onto boiling tomato sauce infused with olive oil and animal fats, and no one has died of botch yet, but if the inlaws cheese me off just once more......sweetie break out the mason jars I'm looking to fix a problem....
bricobart (author)  spark master9 months ago
I agree spark master. Our ancestors invented and finetuned those tools, it's up to us to continue the same way while keeping the craftwork alive. I looove hammer drills ;)
bricobart (author)  greatpanda9 months ago
ALL-RIGHT!!! Thanx great panda, always nice to learn new stuff. I'll have to find that oil!
aebe bricobart9 months ago
Hello . Mineral oil , not motor oil , can be had from your pharmacy . It does not dry , and is mostly tasteless .
spark master9 months ago
oh I fergit, olive wood makes very very nice pot stirrers, Forget the el cheapo spoons from China, nice ones made from olive wood are the best. they are not cheap, they last for years.

again very pretty piece.
bdempsey19 months ago
Dude thats not lazy..You put a heck of a lotta hard work into that piece.
bricobart (author)  bdempsey19 months ago
In fact, yes! Let's say that the job can be done in one day - nothing compared to the several days (or weeks) it takes with simple hand tools...
artworker9 months ago
It is famous in India (rock and wood carving artisans) that nature creates the artifact and is hidden there somewhere in the wood or the rock! It is the task of the artist to recognize it and bring it out, removing the exact parts that are not required! You did a great job in doing that.
I wish I could click a "like" button on this comment. :D
how about no more "like buttons" and just say I like it. of course it is harder to amass a profile of users so they can monetize yoy, but heck why not BE the fly in the ointment, or a Habanero in the aloe salve!
PACW artworker9 months ago
I agree with mslaynie that a 'like' or 'agree' button would be great for comments!

Your explanation is more poetic than what I have always heard - That it is easy to carve a statue of an elephant; you get a huge block of marble and simply remove everything that doesn't look like an elephant.

And, as in most matters, Stephen King has addressed the topic brilliantly! His wood carving scenes in the Dark Tower series have always made me want to sharpen a knife and go branch hunting!
bricobart (author)  artworker9 months ago
Heartwarming, I know exactly what you mean!
RingoWild9 months ago
That is absolutely beautiful! It's funny how some people say that using power tools is cheating. Personally, I think it makes sense to use a power tool when you can because you still have loads of hand work to do! It's obvious that you spent tons of time on this — and it is stunning! Thanks for sharing.
If the masters of sculpture could have used hammer drills , they would have. I can't see Michelangelo turning down air driven hammers/chisels grinders etc. Maybe hand tools while gingerly carving the "delicate parts" of "David" or the "Pieta".

And thanks grand panda for explaining the mineral oil thing. I have a friend who always used olive oil and since my wooden spoons go onto boiling tomato sauce infused with olive oil and animal fats, and no one has died of botch yet,
bricobart (author)  RingoWild9 months ago
Well thank you Ringo! No worries, either, no one said I was cheating ;)
There was only one member who said 'some people will say you were cheating', but until now everybody was just excited about this project.
jtmcdole9 months ago
This looks amazing, great job!
bricobart (author)  jtmcdole9 months ago
Thanx, I appreciate!
ArticAkita9 months ago
the oil brings out the grain big time! good job!
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