Spoons for Poets

Hummingbird Spoon in Cherry

This spoon was carved on commission to be given as a gift to a Kansas poet and photographer, Michelle Terry.

Amos’ Spoon in Osage Orange

I carved this humble eating spoon for my friend Seth Wieck, a poet in Amarillo, Texas, in reference to his epic poem, Ulysses Arrives in Amarillo.

Roots and Wings: The Family of Chris Wolf Edmonds

two vibrant quilted works from my aunt, Chris Wolf Edmonds

The Lawrence Arts Center, in Lawrence, Kansas, recently had an exhibition featuring work from across the rich artistic career of my Aunt, Chris Wolf Edmonds. There are many creative people in my Aunt’s immediate family: her father (my grandfather), her children, Jason Edmonds and Brynn Edmonds Burns, all of them making beautiful art. The happy idea surfaced that it might be interesting to include some work from my Aunts creative family. They even reached back to her great grandfather (my great great grandfather) Johann Severin Kiemig, who filled his farmhouse in Zenda, Kansas with murals and paintings. They graciously invited me to participate. I am very grateful for this, for I respect my Aunt and my cousins very much, and my grandfather was a profoundly important figure in my life. Often, I contemplate the creative legacy that flows through my family, the generations who celebrated making things with hands, and placed a high priority on light, color and beauty. That benefaction shaped me and continues to do so. It is incredibly meaningful to be a part of an exhibition that celebrates that legacy and especially honors the one who has worked so hard and gracefully in her carrying it forward.

Chris Wolf Edmonds, detail

Deeply principled, generous and compassionate, my Aunt Chris always seems to know exactly who she is. Nurturing a deep love and kinship to the land, specifically Kansas, she has taken a path in life that I seek to emulate: a multi-disciplinary agrarian artist/craftsperson, manifesting excellence in craft, remembering tradition while pushing her own creative boundaries, and constantly evolving and growing as an artist and human within a flowering context of family and community. I know that she is a treasure. I am grateful to be part of her legacy.

the self portrait of my great great grandfather, Johann Severin Keimig, a lamp from my cousin Jason Edmonds, and one of my Aunt’s quilts.

As you look through the images from the show, you will see the quilted and fiber based art of my Aunt, carved wooden birds from my grandfather, wooden sculptures of my cousin Jason, photographs from my cousin Brynn, and paintings and prints from me. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it up to see the exhibition, and I don’t have titles to provide for all of the works at this point, so I apologize for not providing more detailed captions.

All of these photographs were provided by, and used by permission of the Lawrence Arts Center.

Bowls From an One Hundred Year Ash Tree

Five bowls turned from part of a salvaged Ash tree from Peabody, Kansas. The tree was well over one hundred years old and was nearly five feet in diameter. Most of it we milled into lumber but some was set aside for making wooden bowls. It is a humbling and awe-filled experience getting to work with material from such a being as was this tree.

Vox Universi

Vox Universi, 2021, wood engraving, 4″ x 6″

Vox Universi (the sound of the Universe), is a little wood engraving carved from a block of Resingrave. It is a simple reflection on “non-profession music”, prayer, a celebration of the concertina, being slow, planting oak trees: things like that. If you want to buy one they are available here.

Circle Table in Black Walnut

I built this round walnut table for a young family over the summer and into the fall. The base is mortise and tenon. I hoped for it to carry some of the feeling of the vaulted interior of a timber framed barn. The wood for the base came from gun stock maker in Wichita who gave me some timber from his stock before he passed away. The wood for the top was harvested from my friend’s land near Fall River, Kansas.

Go On, Shepherd

Go On, Shepherd 2020 wood engraving 4″ x 6″

Go On, Shepherd is a new wood engraving available for sale in my online store Baumwerkshop. As a shepherd, often I find myself in this position, kneeling on the ground tending an animal. It is a humble position, yet, to be nearer to the earth by half or more is significant. Don’t forget that you are dust. Great comfort that is. When I learn of the soil I am learning about God, creator and king of the Universe. It is good to be humble, kneeling on His earth.

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14 NKJV

“I am a steward because I am not here for very long”, I heard a farmer say once. The land remains and was here before. The sheep flocks – the good ones, are like an organism or a nation, and they persist, reflecting the decisions of the shepherds over them. My flock carries the intention of many shepherds before me and it will reflect mine after I am gone. The sheep too will remain. Any ownership I have is really only stewardship for One who is greater, and it is good to take care of life for Him and with Him. This too is comforting.

These are some of the thoughts I have, kneeling on the earth with lambs.

The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest

Linocut Print of The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest, 2020, 15″ x 24″ printed on archival paper: Zerkall Book Smooth 145 GSM, made in Germany torn to size, 18″ x 27″

The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest is a relief print edition carved and printed by hand from a block of linoleum. It is available for pre-order in the Baumwerk Shop. It will be an edition of 100 prints. Numbers 1-75 will be black ink on white paper, while numbers 76-100 will be sepia ink on cream paper. There will be a separate listing for each color option. The black and white prints will be ready for shipping sooner on March 23rd, while the sepia and cream prints will be available a few weeks later.

The Spiritual Mechanics… began as a way of building a repository or archive for many of the symbols that help me to understand my place and function in the world and the Kingdom of Heaven. It is, after a fashion, an info-graphic which serves a developing theology around the ancient kinship of labor to worship.

At the heart is a worldview which sees an holistic unity between what is spiritual and what is natural. These are crude words and a crude image which is looking towards something that is deep and nuanced in its beauty and inherent goodness within the mind of God. My hope is that in here is an echo of God saying of the earth and creation, “It is good”. Also the echo of the Words of the Creator resident in every atom and particle. May it be an echo of John the Baptist saying “change your hearts and minds, because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” May it be an echo of Jesus saying “it is finished” on the cross. Heaven is coming to earth and our labor here is not in vain.

The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest is also a prayer and an offering.  It is the noise my heart makes towards God, offering the smallest and most mundane moments of my days as He simultaneously offers them to me.  It both seeks to say and asks if it’s really true that labor spent shoveling dirt in a garden , roofing a house, or cutting a stone before God can be as significant a spiritual lever as the most noble words of the priest in the cathedral, or the pastor behind a pulpit, or the hands of a healer in a tent.

I have more openly exposed my heart in this image than in my previous work, where it is shielded by narrative. In following posts I will seek to lay out the symbolism and stories behind the details depicted here, but it should be understood that I have sought to use images like these because for me the words are fundamentally insufficient to describe what it is that I see and seek.

I also hope that you will consider purchasing this print. Many of you know my ambivalence towards the marketing. However, I believe I am called to engage the “marketplace” with my work in a way that settles with my conscience and ethics. Here is a link to pre-order The Spiritual Mechanics of Labor and Rest.

Crane Cabinets in Ebonized Walnut

Below is a gallery of images of a pair of cabinets built for the bathroom of a couple in Wichita. They are constructed from native (specifically South Eastern Kansas) black walnut, solid and veneered, and white oak. The exterior surfaces were “ebonized” using a process which employs the chemical reaction of an iron solution with tannins in the wood, rendering it black. The design of cranes and bamboo were carved into the surface revealing again the natural color of the walnut in the incised lines. I hired Taylor Johnson to build the casework itself. Using traditional methods, the interior framework is a solid skeleton held together with dovetail and mortise and tenon joints. Taylor fabricated plywood with extra thick shop-made walnut veneer to be able to handle carving without passing through to the inner layers. His focus and skill allowed me to give attention to the design challenges and the artwork and carving and exterior finishing the cabinets. My gratitude goes out to Taylor for his tenacity and dedication to excellence, and also to Steve Hebert, who generously gave his time and energy to brilliantly photograph the cabinets in situ.