I’m very happy to share the following interview with Aaron Garrett.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Aaron Garrett, I’m 24 and I live in the south-east of England. I work at an outdoor activity centre on the facilities/maintenance team. When I’m not working I fill most of my spare time with carving. I love being outside whether I’m carving, walking or just sitting and enjoying nature.
I have a wonderful wife named Louise who very patiently puts up with me always asking “do you like this spoon?”. We are also expecting our first baby in February, which is so exciting, now I need to work on making some baby spoons!
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I started carving in September 2018 but I’ve always loved woodwork. As a child on walks, my dad and I would always be making daggers and bows and arrows with his cool bone handle knife. From then on I have always had an interest in woodwork. I studied carpentry and joinery in college for 3 years but didn’t find it fulfilling, all the loud machinery, dust and being stuck in a workshop wasn’t for me, but I did gain some great skills.
I discovered spoon carving through an unusual place; YouTube! I’d had an interest in bushcraft for quite a while and loved videos by MCQBushcraft. I came across one where he carved a ladle from Yew, I saw it and had to try. Not long afterwards I bought some tools and made my first spoon.
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
I have very few tools, until recently I only used my WoodTools carving axe and compound curve hook and a Mora 106 which I re-handled. The only thing that’s changed is I now have a beautiful sloyd knife from Adam Ashworth ( @adamashworth97 ) which is slightly longer, narrower and a better steel, so I can now get away with stropping more and sharpening less. I also regularly use my Bahco laplander folding saw.
I have one other tool which I love but use the least; my adze from Josh Burrell. I don’t use it for spoons, just kuksas and bowls.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
I have learned a lot of what I know from Zed Outdoors YouTube videos, he has some brilliant in depth tutorials with very talented carvers. Emmet Van-Driesche has some very informative videos on Youtube and IG TV too.
Another thing that really helped me learn about spoon carving was buying my first spoon from Dave Cockroft; seeing some really good quality work helped me strive to improve my own. I learned a lot from his spoon like how a good knife finish should feel, thickness of the bowl, how comfortable spoons can feel in hand and mouth and what finished milk paint should feel like. My suggestion would be to buy a spoon and learn from it.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
Yes, so many! It’s not just the different designs and styles of spoons which inspire me but the attitudes, perspective and ingenuity of these really inspiring carvers. Dave Cockroft, Emmet Van-Drieche, Dan Lawrence, Alex Yerks, Pat Diette, Maryanne McGinn, Adam Hawker and Lee Stoffer are just a few.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
They’re great. A wooden spoon is beautiful on its own but I love the personalisation these decorative techniques can bring. I’ve been doing some more chip carving lately but I work mostly with milk paint.
I have always dabbled in sketching and painting so milk paint adds another bit of my artistic character into the spoon. I like that with different designs come different textures.
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
I think the meaning of slöyd and wood culture has become a bit diluted and messy but in a way that’s great because there are more ways to relate and become part of it. To me it’s simply about the fulfillment of making, not consuming. I think it also has something to do with being teachable and being humble enough to learn and hone skills.
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
I don’t normally listen to anything while carving, it’s a great time to enjoy the quiet with just the sound wood chips being made. Though if I listen to anything it might be an Emmet Van-Dreische podcast or a ridiculously silly Ron Burgundy podcast.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
Quite simply, because I love it! It’s relaxing and its my ‘me’ time. It can be really frustrating when things don’t go as I want but there are always lessons to be learned.
I think it’s so important to have a creative outlet and this is mine. I get so much satisfaction from creating something beautiful and practical from a log that would otherwise rot or burn. The whole process is a joy for the senses; the smell of the wood, the great sounds of axe and knife work, the feel and sight of a finished spoon and the taste of what you eat with it!
As I have said previously, my goals with this website are to learn more about spoon carving and connect with the great community of spoon carvers out there. I welcome carvers to contact me if you would like to be interviewed to share your thoughts on the craft of spoon carving.