I’m very happy to share the follow interview with Sam Okerlund.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am 35 years old and live in Tucson with my wife Rachael and our two-year-old daughter Aviva Moon.
I’ve always made things, taking a particular interest in design as far back as I can remember, and I’ve always been an artist. My mother is an incredible gardener, and I grew up outside exploring nature in Northern Arizona.
I build furniture professionally for a small mesquite specialty lumberyard and shop here in the Sonoran desert.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I’ve carved for years, I had an Opinel knife in my pocket for most of my 20s, but I never carved spoons, just whittled, and made patterns on sticks. Early in the spring of 2019, my friend Guru Das gave me a Classic Mora with the red handle, and I carried it every day since.
That May I was fortunate enough to travel to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. I took Peter Follansbee’s Make a Chair from a Tree class at Plymouth Craft. Along with an amazing introduction to green woodworking (and Paula Marcoux’s amazing cooking), I was exposed to Plymouth Crafts’ spoon collection and started putting that Mora knife to use.
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
I mainly use my Mora 106, and a suite of Runes Land Knives hook knives. Honestly, my classic 102 gets the most use always.
I have two axes – 20 oz and a 17 oz from Lucian Avery that I have yet to handle.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
I’ve been most drawn to free resources, and Instagram offers so much of it. That being said, I’ve learned a lot by asking questions and engaging with other carvers.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
I could make a list around the world, and it grows daily!
I’ve really been digging everything Kim Fejgin does and super in love with everything Dan Lawrence is doing. Yoav Elkayam turning blows my mind too. The list could go on and on! I do really appreciate Emmet Van Driesche and his willingness to answer questions and help the community. I get Spoonesaurus Magazine as well, which I’ve found packed full of helpful information. It feels good to support the community.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
I am learning and adjusting my technique daily. I’m fortunate to have several hook knives and an adze! I’m exploring so many possibilities!
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
I’m experimenting with all of them, and I think it’s a fun way to make your spoons your own.
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
I think in sloyd, I found a way to describe my natural way of thinking and being. It also connected just my practical and creative tendencies into a natural expression.
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
Currently listening to NPR or my local community radio station KXCI Tucson.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
I can’t help 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.