An Interview with Mateo Bonavita

MAY 19, 2020

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m 22 years old. I’m originally from Uruguay, but I have been moving around for the past three years. When I first moved to New Zealand, the place where my wood passion first started. Now I’m currently based in Berlin.

I have always been working with my hands in a way or another. My childhood was surrounded by art spaces due that my dad and mum are both artists.

I wouldn’t define myself only as a spoon carver but more like a wood artist. I prefer to keep looking for new forms and projects and not label myself as a spoon carver.

How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?

I start carving in New Zealand, I wanted to hollow a small box for earrings that I was making for my girlfriend, but at this time I didn’t know that hook knives existed, only gouges which were not really the tool I was looking for because the box was too small and as I was living in my car didn’t have any working bench or table, neither tools. In the end, I made it with a small electric gouge that someone borrowed me.

I kept telling myself that it should be one tool for that, to hollow without having any workbench. After a while I find out about the mora hook knife, I didn’t buy it though, but I knew it existed.

After six months in Berlin, the idea of buying a hook knife was still around, and that was when I started carving.

What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?

The axe is so far my favorite tool. I was fortunate to get a Hans Karlsson axe a few months ago. I really like it, not only how it works but also the way it looks, I really enjoy looking at handmade tools, especially when they are well made. It’s clear that the toolmaker thought about every single detail on it, it just feels fantastic.

Another of my favorite tools is the Nic Westermann turning slojd knife. This little blade can remove lots of material for its size and get to the most complicated places with ease.

I love tools, and it takes time to be effective with them, especially with an axe. It’s surprising how much material you can remove in a small amount of time with a razor-sharp edge. I believe that we never stop developing our skills with any tool, and it is good to be humble in using them.

Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?

There is a lot of inspiration out there, especially on Instagram. It is certainly breathtaking when you just start to dig a bit on it. Everyone inspires me.

But my inspiration is carving; when I carve, I just really cannot stop and want to keep going, It is really something which fills me a lot: every piece of wood is different. I like that, sometimes I start carving an idea. I finish with something completely different just because of how wood changes during the process.

How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?

I would say that yes, they change, but I’m always looking for new techniques to adapt to every project I’m doing.

I like to develop what’s good for me, and I don’t think there is only one technique for anything. There might be easier ways to do things, but everyone should do what feels good to them.

If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?

Oh…. music 🙂 I can’t t just put one song but an album and one artist. I have been listening to a lot to an album called “You Must Believe in Spring” by Bill Evans. I love how it moves all around different feelings.

Also, an artist from Argentina called Lisandro Aristimuño. I like him a lot! His music puts me in many places and gives me so much good energy while I carve.

Lastly, why do you carve spoons?

I believe there is an intangible and magical essence with making spoons. I’m not sure I understand it or can express it with words. I will always carve spoons, no matter which my art direction goes, spoons are particularly beautiful, to carve and to look at.

Thanks Mateo!