I’ve been inspired by Daniel Wester’s carving since I first saw it. I’m elated that he took the time to answer some questions that I had for him.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Daniel Wester, and I live in Stockholm, Sweden, together with my girlfriend Hanna and our whippet Christian. I work as a creative director and photographer. And travel a lot all over. Spending way to much time in different places of our world. I do love my job, but a few years ago, a feeling started to grow in me. I needed to do something with my hands. Something of my own, my precious! Something to be passionate about.
Its pretty fun, because I started with photography when I was 15. And lived for taking pictures, and everything about photography, for so many years. That was true love, and I was driven by a passion for photography and taking pictures for many years. But every passion comes to an end.
And after 20 years of working commercially with clients and other creatives, I felt a need to do something just for myself again. It could have been knitting, golf, tap dancing, bodybuilding or anything, but I found carving.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I’ve been doing it for three years. The first time a tried to carve, as an adult, was when I was creating a new interior concept for a hotel. The interior designer wanted to show the client a more rustic idea of serving breakfast, so we needed a couple of wooden bowls. I thought it could be fun to carve one myself. And I thought, “it must be pretty easy…..” The bowl was kind of a disaster. But I haven’t left the workshop since then.
I have my workshop in our house in the southern part of Sweden. I try to spend as much time as possible there, but in Stockholm, I carve in my photo studio. And in our living room. Another reason to love working with greenwood. Easy to clean up after a session!
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
I’m always happy when I use my carving axe from Hans Karlsson. I have a few carving knifes and take the one that’s sharpest at the moment. I use spoon knives from Hans Karlsson. I’ve tried so many others, but HK fits my hand perfect. And they are really beautiful. And of course, I must recommend my dear friend Julia Kalthoff’s axe. That axe has everything you need to carve like a magician.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
Anything with Wille Sundqvist. A few weeks ago, I watched a clip on YouTube from 1982 when he carved a spoon. Magic!
I also recommend to buy and read Barn the Spoon’s book Spon of course. But better than books or websites is to do your endless hours of carving.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
There are so many. All the carvers on Instagram. To scroll down gives me so much inspiration. Maybe not the inspiration of shapes, forms, or techniques. But the inspiration to carve more, and do more of what I love. I find a lot of inspiration from art. There are a few particular artists that I really love. Alberto Giacometti, Michael Borremans, and Roger Ballen are all three my absolute favorites. One sculptor, one painter, and one photographer.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
I think my technique gets better for every time I carve. Better grips, more precise. Sometimes I do a lot of the work with the axe. And almost finish up the spoon only with the axe. Sometimes I use the axe til a minimum and digs in with the knife instead. More important than the carving technique for me is the breathing technique. If you breathe correctly, you will work correctly.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
I think everyone should do whatever they like. Experiment and try new, different things. There are no rules in carving. Some sloyders say there are, but not for me anyway.
About milk painting. That’s one of the things I really want to experiment with. Love the look. I did a lot of shou sugi ban about a year ago. And I really want to do more of that. And I will.
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
For me, it means a lot of different things. It’s a way of expressing my creativity. Its a place where I go to find peace and curiosity at the same time. But it is also something I do to get more energy for my professional work. And it really works. I’m feeling so much more curiosity and happiness in my photography these days.
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
I like to listen to The National when I carve. But lately, my soundtrack has been The Year of Hibernation by Youth Lagoon. It’s been on repeat for the whole summer. And it makes my work look cool – or at least it makes me feel cool when I work.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
I carve because it gives me creative freedom. But also because it makes me a better person, and it fills my life with happiness.
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.