I’m very happy to share an interview with Mattias Höög.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Mattias Höög. I’m a 29-year-old guy who found a deeply passionate interest in woodworking after I dropped out of university studies due to struggles with depression. I studied engineering science and mathematics and found that working creatively with my hands gave me so much more joy vs. working only with my brain.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I’ve been carving since I was a little kid, I got to help my dad split firewood with a small hatchet, and I used to carve sticks of wood into kindling. After that, I also carved a lot of things during our scout adventures, turning tree saplings into samurai swords.
I first tried out spoon carving in high school with the obligatory slöjd studies we have in Sweden. I had previously only used bigger Mora knives for carving, but the smaller carving knifes felt very different and easier to carve details with. In my mid-twenties, I remembered that feeling of shaping wood and wanted to rediscover it, so I bought myself a Mora 120 slöjd knife and a small Mora hook knife. It took a couple of years before I actually did any carving with them, and what inspired me was probably some YouTube videos I found where I saw what true masters could do with a knife, like Barn the Spoon carving an eating spoon and Alex Yerks making a kuksa using a Viking style axe. I grabbed the smallest axe my dad had in his garage (which incidentally was the axe I used as a kid for splitting wood and hammering nails) I put a razor-sharp edge on it and went chopping. It was so fun I couldn’t stop myself, and here I am, now I can chop a spoon blindly and with either of my hands. The feeling of shaping wood with an axe was so natural for me since I’ve been using axes my entire life, learning was quick and fun. It was more challenging to practice the new carving grips with a knife like a professional and reaching the skill point where sandpaper is not needed. It was also very different from the hobbyist approach we all used before rediscovering this ancient craft. The knowledge that started spreading more and more thanks to Wille Sundqvist, the Internet, and the greenwood movement.
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
An everyday small utility axe with a sharp hollow ground and a single bevel edge is the most fun tool to use. My large home forged spoon knives (twca cams) are also a joy to use, and of course, my first old Mora 120 with its now super slim blade. I might also be the only one who loves using the mora 122 with a straight edge for decorative carving.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
From being a hobbyist to being a full-time production carver, which I did for a couple of years. When I got a job as a school teacher in slöjd, I slowed down my carving and focused more on exploring beautiful and fancy spoons rather than cheap ones. Carving for beauty rather than for selling.
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
Celtic music by Adrian von Ziegler.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
Because they give me everything, I need. A way to express myself artistically, to relax, having fun, and communicate with others. Spoons gave me food on the table when times were tough, but most importantly they bring food from the table to the mouth. The reason why I keep carving spoons is that the design variations are endless and also endlessly challenging, it never gets boring!
Thanks Mattias! You can follow him and inquire about purchasing his spoons on Instagram at @mattis_sloyd.
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.