I’ve recently had the good fortune of finding @johns_slojd on Instagram, and I’ve enjoyed all of his posts. He is an amazing carver and I’m elated that he was willing to do the following interview.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Jonathan, most people call me John. I was born in Mora Sweden thirty years ago and grew up on a quite self-sufficient farm in Dalarna. There, the proximity to nature and the longing for the wilderness were welded with the interest in art, science and crafts. As I spent much of my childhood in the woods, on hiking trails or canoeing, trying to learn how to take care of myself. When I was at age 17, I met the love of my life to whom I am now married and have three children.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
My parents had a lot of time but no money. So I learned from the beginning, that if I wanted something, it was only by making it ourselves that I could get it. With my interest in outdoor life came a will to independence. It expressed itself in bushcraft, a walking stick, a kuksa, and of course, spoons.
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
I can’t say they are necessarily my favorite tools. But the ones I have and use are; a Hultafors forest ax, Gyokucho Japanese saw, Mora 106 knife and two spoon knives, Mora 162, 163. An indirect tool that many do not think of is a regular table lamp. But I want to mention it, as it is invaluable when working indoors.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
I’m basically pretty self-taught, but the quality of my craft improved significantly after reading Wille Sundqist’s books.
I would also recommend the beginner to experiment and dare to fail. Nothing has taught me more than my mistakes. For the more experienced, be open to new angles. The day you think you have learned everything, you stop developing.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
There are many skilled craftsmen to choose from. If I were to pick one, it would be Adam Hawker. In my opinion, his slöjd expresses the essence of “allmoge style” in a professional fashion. But I am generally more inspired by different craft styles and cultures than specific individuals.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
Today I try to work more with how light interacts with a faceted surface, to create shadows that influenced how the shape is perceived. Nowadays, all my spoons have a cut finished surface. I’m not against sandpaper, but I think the cut surface has a more beautiful shine and over time patina.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
A well-crafted wooden spoon, can survive generations. I think adding some type of decoration increases the likelihood of a personal connection and enhances the emotional value. An extra step forward, from the culture of wear and tear that quality craftsmanship stands in such contrast. I want my craft to come to good use, but also to bring aesthetic pleasure.
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
For me, craft is a heritage right as homo sapiens. Something that should be accessible to everyone, in one way or another. I also believe that as we face the problems of modern times, traditional crafts offer part of a sustainable solution. Wood consists of locked up carbon dioxide that the tree has taken out of the atmosphere.
On a more personal level, slöjd is a source of income, a way of expressing myself and getting to know new wonderful people. I also see the craft as the means and tools that I as a parent teach my children to create their own relationships with nature.
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
The letter – with Joe Cocker, Kozmic blues – with Janis Joplin. But most often I listen to lectures, with topics like paleo anthropology, quantum physics or zoology to pick some.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
Carving gives me tremendous satisfaction and sense of happiness. I love being in a way a link between nature where I fetch raw materials and to the individual who uses my craft. My craft gives me a way to support my family while I have a lot of time to be with my children.
Thanks John! You can follow him and inquire about purchasing his spoons on Instagram at @johns_slojd
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.