Sloyd spoon carving

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

smal_spoon_paper_birch1_webLet's first quickly look at the meaning or etymology of the word “sloyd”. It comes from the Swedish “slöjd which is translated to mean sleight of hand, skilled or crafty, in other words, handcrafts or made by hand. Often it is put together with green woodworking but just means handcrafts and no more. Nowhere does it actually mean that the wood has to be so-called greenwood, that is to say wood that is freshly cut or laid up for no longer than 18 months.

Many a tutor in spoon carving will teach methods and often quite elaborate ways. But do we really need that? Personally I do not think so. It actually often gets in the way. The piece of wood will tell you what it wants to become and, within reason, it is much better to follow this rather than to work against it.

Often many things are made to appear so much more complicated than they actually should be and you can look at all the complicated ways that some people do things and how they, more or less, try to achieve what I would call “production runs” with everything looking almost the same. You only get that when you force your will upon the piece of wood, and I would always advise against that.

I always suggest the KISS system; keep it simple stupid. The most important thing is (1) to develop your own way and (2) to allow the piece of wood, as I said, with in reason, to be your guide via the grain structure as to what it wants to be and now it wants to look when done.

This requires, as so often in forestry and working with wood, the development of “the eye”, the skill to see what a piece of wood is destined to become by the way it is shaped, and then by the way the grain runs.

Yes, you can impose your will onto the piece of wood but often that means, possibly, weakening the grain structure at times. Best to follow the grain as much as possible and by doing so producing entirely unique pieces. This goes as much for carving spoons as for other treen goods.

© 2017

The photo above shows a spoon made from Paper Birch which fought me all the way but is an indication for letting the wood guide you as to shape, etc.