Prunus spinosa

Spoon carved from blackthorn and treated with linseed oil

I’ve recently had an opportunity to carve blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) when the Combe Mill team cleared a blackthorn thicket in Mill Wood, with some bushes having substantial stems. Blackthorn has traditionally been used to make walking sticks, characterised by the dark and spiky bark. Leaving the root ball on the stem produces the Irish shillelagh or club, a rather ferocious weapon.

In contrast to the bark, the wood of blackthorn is paler and, as could be expected from a member of the Prunus genus, has many similar characteristics to other fruit woods. It is dense in character and takes fine detailed carving. I find it has a tendency to dry quicky and split, so when carving a spoon blank it’s important to remove the bulk of wood to reduce internal tensions that can develop in the wood.

Blackthorn in flower in April. The petals appear before the leaves

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