For a long time, I’ve enjoyed Sven Kramer’s beautiful photographs of his carving as much as I respect his work as a carver. I’m elated that he took the time to do an interview and answer some questions I had for him.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Sven, 46 years old, and I work as a nurse. I am married, and I have two daughters. We are living in Bochum, Germany, in a small apartment, from where we can look over the whole city.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I was born in the Erzgebirge, a German area where people do a lot of traditional carving. So carving and woodcraft was an important part of my childhood. I have been carving since I was a little boy, and I learned to use carving tools when I was a child. As a young man, I have also worked as a carpenter for four years. For some reason, I became a nurse later and didn’t for a while. A few years ago, I started again, because a group of kids asked me to carve knives and swords for each of them. While searching for a new carving axe, I found the spoon carving scene on the internet, and my passion came back.
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
My favorite tools are a knife and a hook made by Matt White and a Hans Karlsson carving axe. Sometimes I use a Mora 106, a Svante Djärv knife, and Robin Wood hooks. Always remember, even the best knives are useless when they are not sharp! For the last finish, I prefer using two round stones (one from the north sea and one from the Baltic sea) and an old folding bone. … that’s all!
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
I have only read a single book about spoon carving, The Art of Whittling by Niklas Karlsson, and it had a significant influence on me. I find Instagram very inspiring, especially the spoon carver and the greenwood working scenes.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
All of them inspire me in their own way. A few important carvers for me are Emmet van Driesche, Joel Larabell, Georg (@schorsch555), Annette Koehnen, Daniel Lundberg, Niklas Karlsson, Matt White and many, many more.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
My technique must have become al lot better over time, I know it because I need fewer band-aids than in the beginning. I have tried to copy spoon carving techniques from other carvers, for example holding the spoon against the breastbone while carving, but I realized that this does not work for me. So I simply carve as I learned it as a boy. I hold the knife with my right hand and move the blade with the left thumb. It gives me the best result, and you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
Why not? I think everything is allowed to improve your personal style. Sometimes I try out techniques like those. But mostly I like my spoons clean, without frills.
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
I am living in the city, surrounded by too many people, cars, houses, so working with wood connects me with nature again.
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
I usually do not listen to music while carving because I enjoy the stillness.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
It brings balance and calmness into my life, which is often hectic and stressful. When I am carving, I forget the time, and I just love the process of creating something with my hands out of a simple piece of wood.
Thanks Sven! You can follow him and inquire about purchasing his spoons on Instagram at @kramex_carving.
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.