I found the wood sitting in the shorts at my favorite hardwood dealer. It was very dark, heavy, and dense. It was mahogany but so dark and heavy that I felt it was a wayward piece of Dominican, not Honduran. It was just what I wanted.
Every craft has a few tools that seem so insignificant and ordinary that we pass over them when discussing how we work.
Pine is terrific to carve is you are mindful of its character and use sharp tools.
A while ago, I read an article in the New York Times on how artwork produced in the past seventy years was disintegrating rapidly. The deterioration was due to impermanent pigments, aging materials, and chemical conflicts between elements in a mixed media artwork. Some things were never meant to last forever, and others were never intended to be together in art.
Smoothing curly grain or decoratively knotted wood can always be an issue in carving. Cabinet makers have tricks with scrapers and planes, but they generally are not working in the tight spaces that a carver has. This spoon was a particular issue.
The world of woodworking is full of handbooks, videos, manuals, and magazines that aver to show you the best way to do things.
I posted on using cement on the end grain of a small schooner I was working on a while ago. The logic was that this particular carving would have lots of unsupported end-grain prone to breakage while I was carving.
Success is not a permanent achievement. We have to continually work at maintaining it.
For several years I taught marine woodcarving at a boatbuilding school in Maine.
Sooner or later, most woodworking sites and blogs have some sort of post on scrapers. Rather than duplicate what others have demonstrated in the care, feeding, use, and maintenance of scrapers. I'd like to point out that they produce much less dust than sanders - that's a hell of a significant point when you have a confined shop and allergies.