Steve, baby Mariska and Kali Dog walking away
Steve Heffernan and Minerva the Siberian kitty

Heartfelt & Handmade

I carve these wares from greenwood, with knife and hatchet, drawknife, and gouge. I am looking to create a functional yet personal object that will be used, cared for, and handed down from generation to generation.

I find there is a solitude in working with my hands, an inward reflection as my breath slows, and the thoughts settle. The idea is to become intimate with the material and create something meaningful.

My focus hones in on the feel of the knife cutting the fibers and the flow of the grain. Between the heart, the hands, and the material, there is an exchange of information. There is reciprocity between the physical nature of the wood and the intent of the craftsman. The reality of grain and atmosphere, blade, and fiber temper my ideas about the work.

Trees are a natural resource and need to be respected and protected, no matter where one lives. I try to follow the three Rs of environmentalism; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I never take more than I will use; whenever possible, my work is created using locally-sourced material, wood that I have found or pruned myself; and the waste — the chips I produce from carving — go back on the compost pile, completing the cycle.

I believe that everyone would like to touch, use and own something handmade — something crafted by hand — now and again. I think that these utensils, unlike the mass-produced smooth plastic disposables, put us back in touch with their humanity, humility, mortality. I don’t look at it so much as going back to nature, or back to a bygone era, but looking forward to creating a sustainable future for our children.


Birch spoon with beautiful paisley kolrosed design. If you could only take one personal item to the ashram, it wouldn’t be bad if it was this spoon. Handmade with axe and knife.


A shrinkpot (or shrinkbox) is made out of fresh, green wood. The core of a branch or a log is hollowed out and a groove cut along the bottom edge. A dry piece of wood is shaped to fit for the bottom of the box and placed in this groove. As the cylinder of wood dries it shrinks around the dry wood base, forming a tight seal. Once dry, the box is then decorated and perhaps a lid is made to fit.


On occasion, I have a thought or image in my mind, an image that will not go away, and there is a compelling need to work that thought out. These tend to gestate, and they take a long time to make.

Often driven by shape or form that is somehow evocative emotionally or vaguely reminiscent of something from long ago, it gets me in its clutches, and it won’t let go. Sometimes it sits quietly in the corner amid the shop detritus, but I am unable to relegate it to the trash or recycle it into something new. It waits patiently until its time is right, then screams at me to be worked on again.

So here is a category for all the things I can’t categorize, the unresolved emotions, old memory fragments, the scary bits, the ideas that resurface.