Jogge Sundqvist at Country Workshops, 2010

I’m back from my trip south, but still generally unpacking and getting back in the swing of things. The class with Jogge Sundqvist was out of this world. Jogge & I met in 1988, when I was the Country Workshops intern, and he was here to teach a similar class. 22 years between visits is a long time; but my work kept me up north when Jogge had been back a few times in those years. The week we just spent was one of the absolute top woodworking experiences of my career. If any of you are the least bit inclined, drop what you are doing & write or call Drew Langsner, because there was still space left in the next class Sept 6-11. http://countryworkshops.org/sloyd.html

Some people often think it sounds somewhat simple, “I’m going to learn how to carve a spoon from wood” – but this work is often more challenging than much of the joinery I know. There is no place to hide on the spoons, all the surfaces count. Once you get what Jogge is saying about design and function, then you start to learn to see the spoon in the blank piece of wood. Each stick is different, though, and it’s up to you to coax the spoon from the blank. This work is much more than “whittling” a handle & scooping out the bowl of the spoon. Jogge spent much time on the shapes possible, and how the parts of the spoon intersect and interact. It’s fascinating stuff. We had nine (for a little while, 10 – sorry you had to bail, Kari) students working diligently at carving these spoons. Often they were carving long after the day’s class had ended.

In addition to the focus on design, Jogge’s teaching also centers on technique, and both were very engrossing. His various movements and grasps of the two main knives used are really whole-body exercises. You tend to think that to cut this stuff, one just sits and whittles; but to be effective, each posture and grip has movement from your upper body, legs, and hips. The idea is to get the wood cut, not to kill hours & hours shaving tiny bits of wood away…

Jogge w spoon knife

Same ideas applied to the hewn bowls we worked on; but in that case, I went for the really whacked-out shape of a goose-bowl. I had two crooked blanks of birch I got at work & we decided to work these into bird shapes. I only got them roughed-out; but now I intend to carve the birds, and decorate them with chip-carving and paint.

adze work

early form of the roughed-out bowl

I was a clunky student, intentionally starting more projects than I could finish. I figured that way more possibilities for discussion would emerge. I can cut the stuff here at home, but I principally wanted the ideas while I was with Jogge.

Many thanks to Jogge for his great skills as a woodworker & teacher and to Drew & Louise for bringing him back once again. He & I were talking, and he’s been teaching this stuff for more than half of his life…and right about now he is the age his father was when he first came to Country Workshops in 1978, the beginning of that school that has been so pivotal in shaping me into the woodworker that I am… more tradition.

Here’s Jogge’s website. the most colorful on the web, I think… http://www.surolle.se/

and the video from 1988, available again http://countryworkshops.org/books.html

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