I first came across Peter Follansbee’s work through the book, “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” that he co-authored with Jennie Alexander. A year or so later I saw an episode of the Woodwright’s Shop which featured Peter as a guest carving spoons. Peter was demonstrating a Swedish spoon carving technique that he had learned from Wille and Jögge Sundqvist. There was something about the interplay between the simplicity of the tools (axe, knife and hook knife) combined with the light, elegant form of the spoons that I found fascinating. The spoons themselves where a huge departure from the wooden spoons that I was familiar with. Very simply, I wanted to try this for myself, and what a great excuse to get an axe!
I initially researched the knives that were used, which lead me to the Sloyd carving knife. Further discussion on what Sloyd is will have to wait for another post. Regardless, I was able to find some excellent makers of these traditional Swedish carving knives. I ended up contacting Del Stubbs of the Pinewood Forge to make me a Sloyd knife and a hook knife. The hook knife is used to hollow the bowl of the spoons while the straight bladed Sloyd knife is used for shaping the rest of the spoon.
When I received my knives a few years ago I attempted a spoon or two but didn’t end up sticking with it, that was until this winter. Peter recently filmed and released a new video on spoon carving with Lie-Nielsen. Needless to say, I was “hooked“ again. While traveling home to the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York over the holidays I found a few pieces of apple wood that were slated for firewood. Seeing as it was an unseasonably warm Christmas holiday in New York, I elected to save the apple wood from its fiery fate and use it for spoon carving. I split the logs and hewed them to rough shape following the techniques outlined in the video. In the evenings I’d sit with the family, have a beer and whittle. I ended up bringing the roughly shaped spoons back to Houston to finish up and have been working on them when I get the chance in the evenings.
A couple of weeks ago I saw on Peter’s blog that he was selling some of his spoons to help support the construction of his new workshop. This was a great opportunity to help out someone who’s work I admired and to see what one of the spoons should look like from the hands of a master craftsman. Well the spoon came, and it is impressive. I definitely have a lot more work to do on my own spoons but it’s great to have something to compare them to.
I also humbly took a few photos of Peter’s spoon next to one of the apple wood spoons that I’ve been working on. It’s still much too bulky…