As we’re preparing to start setting up Greenwood Fest tomorrow, news came today that Wille Sundqvist passed away, aged 92 years old. We heard from Jögge earlier this week that the end was near, thus he stayed home in Sweden to be with his father.
We’ll all miss having Jögge with us at the Fest, and our thoughts are with him and his family. I’m so glad it worked out the way it did, he could have easily been on a plane headed our way when Wille’s time came.
There’s no exaggeration about Wille’s impact on so many of our woodworking trajectories…I’ve written and talked at length about what I often call “craft genealogy” and I trace mine back to a very simple event – Bill Coperthwaite bringing Wille Sundqvist down to meet Drew and Louise Langsner, c. 1976. That visit led to the creation of Country Workshops, where I often traveled to learn from Drew, Louise, Jennie Alexander, Jögge, Curtis Buchanan and Wille Sundqvist – and on & on.
Plymouth CRAFT has dedicated this year’s Greenwood Fest to Wille Sundqvist and his life’s work.
The package arrived the other day. I only had a little time to view the spoon & the video at lunch, so when I got home later, I was looking at Wille’s spoon and just wanted to show someone. I took it into the living room, where Daniel was drawing. I said nothing, just handed him the spoon.
He held it, looked it over, and whispered “It’s perfect.” As if it was so good you had to be quiet around it…
Last fall or summer, I forget which, readers of this blog responded with great enthusiasm for the fund-raising campaign that helped Jogge Sundqvist and others make the film that chronicles his father Wille’s woodworking journey. The film is now available as a DVD – and if you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to go order it. It is a treasure. I’m sure if you’re reading this blog, you’ll love this film. I am so pleased for Wille and especially Jogge to have completed the task of making this film – it’s a great accomplishment.
Here’s the latest from Jogge about the film The Spoon the Bowl and the Knife – it includes ordering information, so have at it.
In this moment I´m waiting for all the DVD´s to come. Then we have to put them in the covers and do the special Kickstarters edition we promised you. So within two weeks the film will be in your mailboxes!
The 31 of january we will have the World Premiere at the Museum of Västerbotten with a lot of specially inivted people, it is the grand opening of the European Capital of Culture 2014 in Umeå the same weekend. The princess will be there, unfortunatly not to see the film, but the red carpet will be rolled out and a rope for Wille to cut on the shopping block as a grand opening ritual.
In Scandinavia and other Europe you can buy it from s u r o l l e.
It has been a great investment and a huge job to produce the film, far more than I could have imagined. But I’m happy with the result. We have gained the process of how to carve a spoon and how to turn a bowl. There is some grinding tips and a PDF with all the important carving grasps as Wille shows. The history section with some background on Willes life took a lot of research for images. That part felt important: to explain how it came about that the Swedish craft begun to spread in the United States.
So thanks again everybody for backing this film, you really made me do it.
Please tell friends about “The Spoon, the Bowl and the Knife!
We want it to be spread all over the world.
I got a note back from Jogge Sundqvist the other day, when I wrote to congratulate him on the immediate success of the kickstarter fundraising. Here’s part of what he wrote:
This is just overwhelming!
I haven´t in my deepest imagination ever thought that we should reach the goal so quickly. Within 24 hrs…
This is so helpful, not just the money, it also strengthens everyone involved in self-confidence and trust in the movie to be something really good.
And everyone involved in the film is full of humility and wonder at the response we’ve had to make the film about Wille.
We have a little way to go before our actual budget… I hope you still want to continue to spread the word about the film, every little contribution is incredibly valuable to make a film of high artistic quality and with a clear content.
BUT – you might ask: What’s all the fuss about Wille Sundqvist and some wooden spoons? Ha! You’d be amazed.
As the years keep ticking by, I often think about connections and chronologies. May times people will think about events in their lives, and how one simple happening might turn your life this direction or that…and I think that without Wille, I might not be a joiner/woodworker today. Certainly not a spoon carver. And yet we barely know each other…
I first heard of Wille of course from Drew Langsner, whom I met in 1980. That was the start of my woodworking career, although you wouldn’t have seen it coming then! I have often told the story of how I got to Drew’s Country Workshops to learn traditional woodworking. I was a mainstay there in the 2nd half of the 1980s and early 1990s (til I got a job…).
But how did Country Workshops begin? Drew has told me and many others the story many times, and a while back wrote it down in one of the Country Workshops e-newsletters. http://www.countryworkshops.org/newsletter31/ (scroll down to “CW History” – and if you haven’t yet, you can sign up for their free newsletter. It always has good stuff in it, besides update on classes and tools, etc.)
The gist of it is that Bill Coperthwaite brought Wille Sundqvist to meet Drew & Louise in 1976 or 77. Drew had a couple days’ worth of lessons from Wille, and was wanting more. Thus the idea of inviting him to come teach a workshop, which led to the Langsners hosting woodworking classes ever since.
Drew included Wille in his first woodworking how-to book, Country Woodcraft, in 1978. That’s where I first saw/heard of Wille.
Then as I became a regular student at Country Workshops, I often heard stories of Wille’s craft and his teaching, and also saw examples of his work. As it turned out, I met his son Jogge first, in 1988. Then a few years later I was able to attend one of Wille’s classes.
Here is a quote from Wille’s book, Swedish Carving Techniques (Taunton Press, 1990):
“Carving something with a knife or an ax is a very tangible way to get a sense of design. Because the object being made doesn’t have to be secured in any way, it’s easy to move it to different positions and see its lines and shape grow out of the blank. A three-dimensional object isn’t just a picture. It’s an infinite number of pictures, and all of the pictures must find harmony within the object. The lines of the object must compose one unit, congruent from whatever direction it is seen. Carving teaches design.”
And that is really a big part of it. Wille’s spoons are very deceptive. Unlike any furniture work I do, these are subtractive woodworking – you’re cutting wood away & leaving just the right bits. You hope. Each cut means something. There’s so many layers to what Wille teaches – the postures, the tools, the design. You learn about wood and how it grows; and its strengths and weaknesses. Also about the tools, the edge and how it slices. If you have ever seen me use a hatchet, that work comes to me from Wille, some of it directly and much of it through Drew & Jogge.
To me, the spoon carving is a revolutionary act. It helps cut through the mass-produced cheap culture that we have absorbed like zombies. Such a simple household implement, taken to extraordinary heights. Why shouldn’t our most basic kitchen stuff be beautiful? Out with plastic! Think about Coperthwaite and his quote “I want to live in a world where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”
The kickstarter campaign runs for 4o more days and at this writing is over $7,000. That’s not counting whatever got donated directly to Drew or Jogge. Thanks to everyone from here who helped. If you’re inclined, please spread the word.
I’m in a rush right now (clean up shavings in the kitchen from last night’s spoons, help get the kids off to school, me to work, etc) – so I will write at length about this later. But let’s get it together to raise this money pronto. Shouldn’t be hard. When you get to watch this video, you will be amazed. Here’s a snippet from the kickstarter blurb
“The biggest risk this project is that Wille Sundqvist is 87 years old. He is getting tired of age but still he is working with craft everyday. Last week when I talked to Wille he said he was in good shape and that he was eager to start with recording the film in June. He told me he is refusing all orders just to make bowls and spoons for the most generous donors. This tells us how he looks upon his own status. But of course everything can happen with a man at his age.”
If you are leery of using kickstarter, you can send a check to Drew Langsner.