Day 1 – Herman Melville’s Birthday

August 1st, 1819 Herman Melville was born in New York City. Moby Dick was published October 18th, 1851.

Melville in 1860

To celebrate the birth of Mr Melville I hosted a Whittling and Scrimshandering Soiree at the aWay station, with 10 of my close friends and colleagues.

We embarked together on the first making project of my Headlands residency. Everyone selected a piece of wood from my collection of Australian and Californian woods – Eucalyptus nicholii (from my garden in Oakland), Huon Pine (from a board I brought with me from Australia in the 90’s), Monterey cypress (from the Headlands) and Redwood (from a beautifully aged, old growth slab).

The menu

Then we all began the wonderfully simple but nuanced exploration of wood, hand, tool and imagination.

Pippa and Scott a’whittlin!

Its amazing how smoothly time passes, sitting in a circle, working, talking, laughing, with the sounds of chips falling.

Production line

Barbara suitably protected

Here are some of the ‘finished’ pieces.

Barbara Holmes’ delicately textured Huon pine form

Lawrence LaBianca’s multi-media whittle.

Mike Bartalos’ totems

Pippa Murray’s “Magdalug”

In a future post I’ll tell you about what I plan to do with some of these pieces as aWay station continues.

Yvonne Mouser’s ‘bucket stool’ and ‘double wide’

A special thanks to Yvonne Mouser who has lent some of her bucket stools for the duration of aWay station. You can see them live  and take some home at the Museum of Craft and Design’s pop-up store in Hayes Valley until October 15th.

You can see some other images from this first soiree on Russ Baldon’s flickr site and at the Headldand’s flickr site.


  1. Really love Mike Bartalos’s first one– can really imagine it large! — sandra


    1. Yeah. The contrast with the freshly cut wood and the weathered surface of the redwood plank is delicious. They look like his prints don’t you think?


  2. Hey, I enjoyed our time at the residency and hope to see some of the work that you produce. I am beginning to think that one of your best qualities is to bring people together, perhaps people and their thoughts are your real medium, but than again you are such a talent in your own right. Well, I do look forward to the outcome. And… i hope to see you tomorrow for a surf. Tide i believe is best towards the end of the day, say 4pm. What you think?


  3. […] To read more about the Whittling Soiree and to follow Donald’s project at the Headlands, please click here. […]


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