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Blog

Spoonfest and Taljfest or What a Trip...Where did August go?

jarrod

    Most of you may know, but for those that don't, I was traveling abroad for a few weeks. I left home late July and returned mid August, only to head out again after 2 days rest to attend a week long skill sharing event we help organize called Traditional Ways. We've returned got settled in and rested for a few days. Now I'm back at it in full force. Yesterday and today I've carved some spoons and a kasa (wooden cup). It's nice to get some shaving on the kitchen floor again.
On July 26th,  I made my way over to England for the 2nd annual Spoonfest. This event is near and dear to my heart. About 200 people gather for their love of and carving of the wooden spoon. There were many countries present, and I was happy to see a few more folks from the states attending. There were 5 of us this year. This event attracts some of the best spoon carvers in the world.
     One of the highlights was to teach a 2 and 1/2 day class before the event. It was directed at intermediate carvers or folks that have carved a dozen or more spoons. It went really well, with a few major breakthroughs for a few of the folks attending it. In the evening a few if the instructors spent hours talking about craft, spoons, wood, and did some carving too. I can still hear Barn and Robin's contagious laughter in my head. What fun.
     From my understanding there will be a few photographic and video releases of the event. There was a professional photographer on site and she was taking an unbelievable amount of photos and video. (I'm sorry, if you are reading this, I forgot your name along with the 100 other people I met) I'll link the photos and video when they are posted.
    One of the other highlights was seeing Keith Mathews 365 spoon collection. Keith decided after last years Spoonfest to carve 1 spoon a day for a whole year. No cheating, 1 spoon a day. At the fest he had just about 20 more to carve. He had nearly all of them on display. It was really great to see them in chronological order. I ended up trading for one of them, which turns out is April's (my wife) favorite spoon in our collection. Nice work Keith!
    I met many more folks than last year due to the fact that I arrived early and had shaken my jet lag by the time Spoonfest started. Looks like a few of them may end up visiting us here in Wisconsin next year or the next, maybe even helping to build a canoe.
     Sadly I took only a few photos when I was in England, but here are a few.

heading down into Edale

I'm from Wisconsin I can't help it....the cheese was excellent!





Keith's spoon collection
  
     Next was 3 full days in Stockholm, Sweden before heading north to the small town of Insjon, where Saterglantan the famous craft school is. The school was hosting Taljest or carvefest. More on that in a bit.
     While in Stockholm I stayed in Sodermalm, a hip part of town, known as the SoHo of the city. I never thought I'd say that a big city could be pretty, but Stockholm is. It's filled with great old building with brightly colored paint, shy but friendly and good looking people, and some pretty good food too. I must warn you though, Stockholm is one of the most expensive cities to visit. One night I had a good burger, covered in garlic sauce, fries and 2 bottles of ale...let's say this, in the states I could have brought 2 friends along for the same price. But I'm not complaining, it was well worth it and as they say, when in Rome....
     I visited a few museums with some great handcrafts with lot's of wooden spoons and wooden drinking vessels. I am really fascinated by all the wooden items that were so cleverly made. Much of which is painted and decorated.
    I met up with my friend Paul and we headed north to Taljfest. The school is very well known with the Swedish design influenced green woodworkers here in the states, as well as other parts of the world. I suppose it is one of the most distinguished handcraft schools in the world. The school focuses on fiber craft, metal craft, and wood craft. In Sweden it's like a tech school, and looked upon as such. I guess you could say it's accredited. Students can attend for 3 years, it's pretty much like a college for craft. I think this is a really interesting concept. But I'm afraid here in the states something like that just won't fly. We have a ways to go before we start to accept craft as such.
    I was very honored by the fact that I was invited to each 2- 3 hour workshops, and give 3- 1 hour talks on birch bark canoe building at the event. But, because of that I didn't get to see much of the other ongoings. Late in the afternoon on Saturday I  met a man named Tage, he is a well known craftsmen in Sweden and had a very substantial collection of shrink pots, coopered vessels, bark tanned Sami boots (that were his grandfathers), wooden spoons, a bag of shoe grass, a scythe his grandfather made him, and literally hundreds of other cultural things made of wood, skin and bone. Many of the things he made or were heirlooms. I got a lot of inspiration from seeing his collection.
     The evenings were filled with random carving and once the tools were laid down visiting and drinking beer. One night, thanks to Robin W, we passed some whiskey in a silver rimmed mazer, much like what was done in the bygone era.
     One of the highlights for me was meeting  Wille Sundqvist. I got the chance of a lifetime to share a train ride down to the airport with him. He is such a talented and humble craftsman, the spoon carving scene today rests largely on him and his book Swedish Carving Techniques.
    I'm still processing all that I saw and the people I met.......

some kasa or wooden cups



wooden spoons many if not all were kolrosed



spoons from the ship wreck Vasa



Lunch at Saterglantan..wooden bowls and spoons



misc teas in bark boxes



really nice bowl made by a well known Swedish bowl carver...guess?