I’m very happy to share the following interview with Jonah Lindsley.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m 21 years old living in my tiny house on wheels I built myself in northern Wisconsin on the south shore of Lake Superior. I’m a builder 24/7- either professionally doing timber frame construction and other handyman jobs, or personally when I’m working at home. I started my first timber frame building when I was 16 and finished 2 years later. I started my tiny house when I was 18, and right now, I’m wrapping up a camper for the bed of my S10. I also really enjoy painting my nails (they’re purple while I’m writing this).
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I’ve been doing woodworking for as long as I can remember, but I started doing spoon carving and getting into the green woodworking scene around 5 years ago, my initial reason was that my mom really likes wooden spoons, so I started carving spoons to make cheap Christmas presents (still one of my go-to gifts to this day).
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
My favorite carving tools are basic: the open sweep hook knife from Robin Wood, the Mora 106 with a thicker handle that I carved because the original gives me blisters, and the Robin Wood carving ax. I don’t use it as much, but I also have a 50mm Twca cam from NIc Westerman, which is one of the most enjoyable tools to use that there is.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
I’ve never really read any books on spoon carving, but Instagram was instrumental in my development as a carver. There’s an overabundance of great carvers making great spoons, which is so helpful for a new carver trying to find design inspiration.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
I live very close to Jarrod Dahl, and we were family friends for a few years before I started carving, so I’ve seen his work at local craft fairs even before I started carving. With the apprenticeship, I just finished with him, his simple, clean design philosophy definitely affects my work and thought process. I also get a lot of inspiration from Jogge Sundqvist’s sculptures, shrink pots, and relief carvings.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
The longer I carve, the more refined the process becomes, I can take it farther with the hatchet and more efficiently go through the steps of carving. One of the biggest things that’s improved is my sharpening skill and willingness to keep a razor-sharp knife that makes everything go faster smoother and safer. These days I mostly carve bent wood, either crook spoons or other folk art type bent wood projects.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
I’m a big fan of decoration, paint, chip carving, kolrosing. I think its all fun and interesting, but it needs to come after you’ve gotten the basics of carving down. Trying to use decoration to cover faults with the design or execution of the spoon always shows through the finished piece, but when the decoration is used carefully on a well-done spoon, it’s a beautiful thing.
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
Wood culture, to me, it has a lot to do with making things yourself by hand and surrounding yourself with handmade objects. I’m really interested in how handmade objects get viewed in the context of our modern consumerist society, and I really enjoy seeing people interact with something like a hand-carved spoon. I always get coffee in my brightly painted shrink pot made by John Mullaney and almost without fail the cashier at the co-op and me have a chat about how it was made and the ways you can use wood’s natural properties to your benefit, they’re always very receptive and interested. Usually, the next customer or two in line will be craning their necks to see.
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
I go through a lot of phases of music, but some of my die-hard favorite albums are Lewis Del Mars self-titled album, “the incredible true story” by logic, young the giant’s self-titled album, “ZABA” by glass animals is a good one to relax and zone out with, “science and faith” by the script. A few singles I’ve been listening to a lot are “false confidence” by Noah Kahan, “soda” by nothing but thieves, “10 feet down,” “I miss the days” by NF. I’m also a big Stevie Wonder fan.
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
There’s no one reason I carve spoons. I enjoy the quick turn around from starting a project to it being finished. I like finding the perfect piece to make a spoon. I like looking at the spoon I’m using and thinking about the design I used, the tree I used, and the place I was when I made it. After finishing my apprenticeship with Jarrod Dahl, I feel a need to keep carving to keep my skills fresh so I can pass that knowledge along.
Thanks Jonah! You can follow him and inquire about purchasing his spoons on Instagram at @jonahlindsley.
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.