I’m very happy to interview Tim Morris.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Tim Morris. I was born in South London and, other than a short blip for my undergrad, have lived here my whole life. My wife Becky and I have two children aged 5 and 1½, who are great and nuts. They’re usually the disruptive children in the room/park – but hey, I was that kid too!
By day I work as a medical statistician for the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL. I work on (hopefully) improving methods in quantitative medical research. By night I carve spoons. Perhaps I do it because my job is relatively abstract, and carving is very tangible (and quick). Or because South London is crawling with trees (as cities go). Perhaps it’s because my children are raucous and chaotic, and carving is peaceful. Probably because, outside work, I know almost no other scientists but am surrounded by creatives – artists, actors, designers, musicians, photographers, etc. – so feel I need to ‘have something’ creative. I don’t really know.
How long have you been carving and how did you first get interested in it?
I carved my first spoon in June 2017. Becky likes watching TV, and I don’t have much tenacity for it. I tend to give up on films and series/seasons easily. I had a conversation with one of my best friends, Hannah, about wanting to do some craft activity so I could sit with Becky and craft while she watched TV. A few days later, a copy of Spōn landed on the doorstep (thanks Hannah)! I read it in two sittings and, soon after, bought myself a Mora 106 and a Mora 164. Carving was the craft I had been waiting for.
What are a few of your favorite spoon carving tools?
The poshest tool I have is a Del Stubbs open sweep #2 hook, and it’s great. My Wood Tools open curve hook is important too because I kept making bowls too deep so bought the most open knife I could find, and it really improved things. Other than these, my Mora 106 is my favourite. I have three axes, and the most effective, bizarrely, is a cheap Bahco one that I ‘reground’ using a hand file.
Any suggestions of books or websites to learn about spoon carving or woodwork?
Many! Because, since reading Spōn, I have learned to carve entirely through the internet – Spoonfest 2019 was the first time I met another carver in the flesh (Fritiof Runhall was the first person I saw, glad you asked). I didn’t do any of the carving workshops there!
Most of what I have learned so far has come through joining www.spoonclub.co.uk online. Barn The Spoon is not just good at making spoons but a great teacher. He’s eloquent about his thought processes and honest about mistakes. It’s nice to hear someone like him go ‘aaand I’ve just cocked that up!
There’s also this pretty good ‘website’ called Instagram. When my son was a baby, I devoured Emmet van Driesche’s Instagram live videos while up in the night. Other than that, it’s really just been looking at other people’s pictures and working it out.
Are there any particular spoon carvers who inspire you in your work?
Yes. Since I do this for fun, I don’t care about having a personal style and frequently mimic other people’s work just because I fancy it. Here are some:
Maryanne McGinn is my favourite. She does creative, complex things that are well beyond my skill but also does ‘simpler’ things so well (like getting the bowl shape and depth right).
Anna Casserley. She did a few videos for spoon club, and her explanations of what she was doing were… minimal. It didn’t matter; she was just lost in it.
Adam Hawker. He has a particular style that’s geometric, systematic, and precise.
Emmet van Driesche. He’s grafting to make a living out of spoons and is earnest and driven. I can’t relate at all but really enjoy his pictures!
Amy Leake is great.
I hadn’t really noticed Anja Sunberg until seeing her spoons in the flesh. The carving is excellent, but it’s the colour that’s surprising. The transitions of colour look, to me, like they would be easy to do on a computer but challenging in real life.
Maximilian Neukäufler’s spoons are excellent.
How have your spoon carving techniques changed over time?
I don’t have much ‘process,’ but I’ve generally got faster and learned when to relax into it and when to focus (particularly after a minor axe-ident). I don’t really need to work quickly, but swift, decisive carving shows itself.
What are your thoughts on popular decorative techniques like milk paint, kolrosing, or chip carving?
They’re great! I’ve not particularly dabbled with these things but would like to. Especially kolrosing. I want to kolrose lots of hexagons because it’s the best shape.
What do craft, sloyd, or wood culture mean to you?
Not a lot! They’re hashtags, right?!
If you had to pick a few songs to listen to while carving, what would they be?
I know spoon carvers are supposed to like folk or country music, but I’m from South London! Here are a few things I’ve listened to while carving recently:
Chipmunk – Who are you?
Missy Elliott – On & on
Anthony Hamilton – Ain’t nobody worrying
Skunk Anansie – Charlie Big Potato
K’naan – Smile
(Will I be kicked out of the community for my dislike of folk/country music?)
Lastly, why do you carve spoons?
I’m one of four children and relatively extroverted. Heaven knows how my parents managed to co-ordinate it (I was very naughty) but I remember as a child spending a lot of time sitting around the table with my siblings just drawing. And the same with friends in school. Sitting around and drawing together is a ritual you learn that is both immersive and sociable. Most of the time, when I carve, I’m not thinking about carving; I’m using it as a way to process life. I have a silly Instagram handle (@spoonmatic) where I post quite-bad photos. I want to show someone – but the real reason I carve is that it’s nice to be immersed in something.
Thanks Tim! You can follow him and inquire about purchasing his spoons on Instagram at @spoonmatic.
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.