I’ve spent a lot of time with Jögge Sundqvist in the last 2 years, a couple weeks in Maine in 2015, then in 2016 at Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest and then in Sweden at Täljfest…then we toured around Sweden for a couple weeks. Think I’ve had my fill? Nope.
Before I left Sweden, I made sure that if schedules permitted, he’d come back to the US for Greenwood Fest 2017. Lucky for us, the schedules just made it…(he has an exhibition back home right after our event.)
Jögge’s craft skills are firmly rooted in tradition, and his teaching is top-flight. His craft permeates his life; they can’t be separated. He makes you better at woodworking. If you’ve not been around him, here’s your chance. His 2-day class will be making a handle and sheath for a sloyd knife, and learning some carving to go with it. Then in the festival he’ll be doing some demonstrations, and short sessions…spoon carving, decoration – there’s lots to cover.
I wrote this post tonight because it was just announced by Lost Art Press that us mono-linguists will be able to read his book once and for all. They are publishing a translation of his updated book Slöjda i trä. Great combo, Jögge & LAP.
I don’t teach or demonstrate spoon carving at the Greenwood Fest. Mainly because we have lots of great spoon carvers there, & I want to concentrate on adding furniture work to that event. I did carve one while Jogge Sundqvist & I did a duo presentation…but the bulk of my handwork there is (and will be in 2017) oak furniture.
But, I carve spoons a lot. Note, that’s not “I carve a lot of spoons.” There’s a difference, a big difference.
Jarrod carves a lot of spoons. Derek Sanderson too. And Barn carves a lot of spoons. Maybe you’ve been reading Barn Carder’s Advent calendar of spoon carving on his Instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/barnthespoon/ – a really nice thread. I enjoyed it a lot. There was one post yesterday (Dec 23) that got a lot of attention – and I’ll add my two cents’ worth on the thrust of it. Barn outlined some of his criteria for a good spoon, and some of the pitfalls he sees some spoon carvers fall into… here’s a snippet of the post:
“I like my spoons to be functional, and to function well unhindered by style or fashion. As important for me is that the spoons are made with respect to the tools and material. …How often have I heard a maker describe their “work revealing itself from the material” or “the wood talked to me” and thought to myself this is BS. It’s sad because this idea once came from a good place but is now a cliche spouted out by people who often haven’t a clue what they are talking about…”
When I first read it, I thought – what about Jogge Sundqvist and his well-known presentation about the trees talking to him? I’ve now been to Sweden and I think there is magic in the wood-culture there! But I think the tag line in Barn’s “rant” is “this idea once came from a good place…” – he goes on to say there are carvers who haven’t put in the requisite time learning the basics before delving into the far-out end of things – at least that’s how I read it.
For me, the trees don’t talk to me, but I had 20 minutes of spoon carving this fall that were the best of the whole year. The spoon in the photos here is easily the best spoon I made in 2016. I knew within the first 20 minutes of working it that this spoon had everything I like about spoon carving. I described it to several people as “this spoon carved itself.” – Of course the spoon didn’t make itself, but there was little I had to do to get the shape to work, and to flow along the grain of that crook. I’m guilty of making really whacky shaped spoons every so often, but I present them as such. This one is both a free-form shape, and a functional spoon – the best of both worlds for me. I don’t have the discipline of Barn, JoJo Wood, Jarrod Stone Dahl (to name a few) to make lots of straight-grained spoons – for me, the fun is in the crooks; finding the right chunk of wood, and getting the spoon from that. I squirreled away some crooks, and over the next couple of weeks I’m going to split ’em & see if I can get back to that 20 minutes of spoon heaven.
At Greenwood Fest you’ll be inundated with spoon carving – and one thing about that is you can get several different perspectives in one spot. Inspiration abounds. Greenwood Fest 2017 details here – http://www.greenwoodfest.org/
Paula Marcoux has been working like the madwoman that she is, getting the website ready for Plymouth CRAFT’s Greenwood Fest 2017. Last year, we dribbled out announcements about the instructors one-by-one. This year, she’s got it almost all ready to go in one fell swoop. http://www.greenwoodfest.org/
I will write posts about them as we go – for example, Roy Underhill. Do I really need to write about Roy?
For now you can look over the website for the festival, and the SEVEN courses beforehand. Lots of great instructors; a huge pile of wood, this time plenty of coffee, and more fun than you can stand. Registration January 4th.
I have another post to do about my trip, but today shot a few lousy photos while I was working inside the shop.
You can see, it’s still very much a construction site, but some of the time I’m working on furniture in it, other times, working on it. today, on it.
a new cabinet that will hold hatchets, right above the chopping block. A dovetailed case, with board doors & wooden hinges. recycled paneling for the doors. You can also see the first few windows that went in, complete with leftover carvings trimming the framing around them. Next will be a shallow shelf under these windows.
Here’s the cabinet – 24″ x 36″ – about 4″ deep. Right now it has no fittings inside, I won’t put the hatchets in until all the windows are in. It hasn’t rained here in southern New England all summer, but I don’t want to push my luck…
Just above the tie beam there is a poster & certificate from my trip to Saterglantan. Jarrod Stone Dahl & I were the 3rd & 4th recipients of the Wille Sundqvist & Bill Coperthwaite Slojd Fellowship awards. Quite an honor…here’s some text from a note Peter Lamb sent out in the spring, giving an idea of the fellowship:
“The Wille Sundqvist and Bill Coperthwaite Slöjd Fellowship is awarded to craftspeople to further deepen the meaning, skills, and connections among those passionate about simple living and handmade objects. The Fellowship provides financial support to green woodworkers and other craftspeople to travel from their home country and share their thinking about handcraft, showcase their skills and design work, further their own research, and extend the international community of interest.”
I am very grateful to Jogge Sundqvist and Peter Lamb for all their work making this award a reality, and to Norman Stevens for his contribution as well. (JoJo Wood & Beth Moen were the first two, at Greenwood Fest this spring) –
Outside, I started putting battens on, got most of the south side done. One more narrow window to be framed on our left here, then I can finish the battens.
Our neighbor Dave made the bird house on the right, and a downy woodpecker has been enlarging Dave’s holes…
He was at it quite a while.
2 years ago, when I left my job & old shop behind, I put a bunch of stuff into storage. Now I’m beginning to get it back. Here’s part of the wood supply, tucked up in the rafters. And our snowshoes, which got zero use in 2016.
Back outside, I couldn’t resist, especially after seeing Sweden. If I had been there first, this would be a different building.
It’s been a summer of inspiration for me in many ways. One way is books. So much book inspiration that I’m building a new bookcase. Just have to see where I can fit it. Here’s a few titles I’m rummaging around in these days.
First up, a gift. Thanks, Jögge.
It’s Jögge Sundqvist’s book Slöjda I Trä (something like “Handicrafts made in wood”) – the publisher is Natur & Kultur, Stockholm. It’s a revised edition of an earlier book of the same title. More projects, more text. Nice clear drawings and diagrams, great photos and COLOR! As you expect from Jögge… it’s in Swedish. http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789127148833/slojda-i-tra/
Another revised edition that just arrived here this week is Victor Chinnery’s Oak Furniture: The British Tradition.
One of the great thrills of my joinery career was getting to know Vic. His book originally came out in 1979, and stayed in print for eons. But since Vic’s death, his wife Jan has been working on revising it for a new edition, and they’ve taken a great book and made it better. When Jan wrote to me asking for help contacting American museums for photos, I thought it was mostly to just add more color. But the new edition is way more than that, there’s better photos all around, lots of color added, it’s true. But many new figures. The old photo numbering system is still there. Each photo is numbered according to the chapter it’s in, thus fig. 3:210. When Jan and the editors have added new items, they get a small letter after the figure number, thus there is a fig. 3:210a, where there wasn’t before. Most of the pictures are bigger, thank-you very much. The book is bigger, which helps. In an age where it seems like everyone but me is running around looking at things on small screens, it’s nice to have some images get bigger rather than smaller. If you are serious about oak furniture, then you’ll want to get this new edition. I’m glad I did…it’s well worth it. (and yes, the cover of Oak Furniture is still a walnut chair. Nice one, Vic). http://www.antiquecollectorsclub.com/uk/store/productdatasheet/9781851497157
I had mentioned some time ago about Lost Art Press’ new edition of Ants Viires’ Woodworking in Estonia. (I just now realized that’s 3 revised books in a row…weird)
I wrote a short intro to it, just some notes about my exposure to the original English edition. Now we get better, clearer illustrations, and a text that is related to what the author wrote. And you can buy it easily, whereas the 1969 edition was like hen’s teeth. Suzanne Ellison wrote a nice history of the book, and how it got to be translated and published by the US government back in the 1960s. If you’re not familiar with the book, the author travelled his native countryside in the 1950s and 60s, recording in photographs, drawings and notes the woodworking practices in the countryside, which he reckoned were soon to disappear. Much of the work presented relates to agricultural work; but lots of it is things for the home – cooperage, boxes, some spoons, some furniture. What always strikes me is the familiarity with the material these craftsmen had. A must-have for green woodworkers… https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/woodworking-in-estonia
In some ways, this next book is similar, in that it’s about knowing the properties of trees.
This one, however, is new, and written by woodworkers, it is the Swedish book Slöjden börjar i skogen – The title roughly translates to “Craft begins in the Woods.” How to use what sort of tree where, what sort of growth – straight, crooked, hard wood vs soft. I bought mine at Sätergläntan’s great craft store, an amazingly inspiring place. I have just started to work out some of the text via Google translate. It’s enough to get the gist of it. (here’s the link to Sätergläntan’s store; it’s available elsewhere, but I know nothing about who ships where… http://www.saterglantan.com/butik/butiken/litteratur-sv/slojden-borjar-i-skogen/ )
I had seen this one on Jarrod Stone Dahl’s blog, after one of his earlier trips to Sweden. I haven’t turned a bowl in 2 years, but hope to get to it again before too long. This book was one of those things where I thought, I’m not going to see this again, so better get it now. Might need it later.
Continuing the Swedish theme, when I got home, I was searching used books for one on Swedish vernacular furniture. I didn’t find one yet, but I did find Swedish Folk Art: All Tradition is Change.
(edited by Barbara Klein and Mats Widbom, published by Harry Abrams, 1994) It’s an exhibition catalog of sorts. Lots of great painted interiors for one thing, and there is a good deal of furniture and other decorative arts in it. It’s a very nice book. Makes me want to decorate everything in sight.
I also got the Lost Art Press edition of Charles Hayward’s articles titled The Woodworker: the Charles Hayward Years. I got both volumes, seems silly to scrimp on this sort of reference material. Lots of depth to the ideas, there’s both fundamental and advanced information in there. With this much content, every woodworker is going to come across stuff they don’t agree with, but there’s still many good concepts. (For instance, I hate the way 20th-century woodworkers scribble all over their stock with pencils – all those stupid wiggly lines. Ugh.) All in all well worth having, it gets the usual Lost Art Press treatment, nice production.
One last woodworking book, a gift from our friend Masashi Kutsuwa.
It’s about a chair he’s been studying in Japan, based on a Vincent Van Gogh painting; https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/vincent-van-gogh-van-goghs-chair hence the nickname “Van Gogh chair”. Masashi’s facebook page has some details about the project, starting with Tatsuaki Kuroda’s 1967 trip to Spain to see these chairs being made…this link includes a short film of one of the Spanish chairmakers.
The book traces the introduction of this chair, via imports, into Japan; all the way to Masashi and students making them now in Japan.
And while I was in Sweden, I got 2 books on birds there – I used this one a lot; and I didn’t see the woodpeckers shown below, but I was ready for them…it’s a very good bird book. One thing, the maps are large enough to see…
The next one was pure indulgence. I have a couple other Lars Jonsson books; they’re bird books and art books. I like both.
Too much happened there for me to write the whole thing down. After Täljfest, Jögge Sundqvist led a few of us on a mini-tour of parts of Sweden. We were me, Jogge, Del & Mary Stubbs and Masashi Kutsuwa and his wife Madoka and their daughter Fuku. Jogge kept things beyond interesting.
First stop – I have no pictures I can share with the blog – a storehouse for the Nodiska Museet (Nordic Museum for some of us) – absolutely mind-boggling array of wooden objects. I don’t remember seeing anything that was un-decorated. (the website for the museum down in Stockholm, which can’t possibly compare to its storage collections http://www.nordiskamuseet.se/en – better to work through this site, which can be sorted by object, collection & more http://digitaltmuseum.se/ )
Plymouth CRAFT hosted 2 workshops after the Greenwood Fest 2016. Our model festivals do the workshops first, but we were making things up as we went along, or had scheduling conflicts, or something. So we did them after. One way this was an unexpected benefit is that often you don’t want an event like this to end. So it didn’t have to…
JoJo Wood taught her master class in eating spoons. These are the hardest spoons to make – they HAVE to be right. Cooking spoons & serving spoons can be strange & still work. Just look at my work for evidence of this.
It begins with accurate, well-thought-out hatchet work:
Then, she was not bashful about telling all the old duffers where to cut their spoons to shape…
Working right beside Chris, saying “have faith, cut it like this…”
Meanwhile, Jogge Sundqvist taught his distaff class…a real challenging exercise in shapes, knife, hatchet & drawknife work, & design.
The tin-can opener grasp can be hard to grasp. Jogge helps illustrate proper technique.
Showing where some of these cuts are applicable in spoon carving.
These students made excellent examples…
Except this one – it doesn’t count. It’s Dave Fisher!