Last week I spent 3 days in Edale as a student on a spooncarving course organised by Robin Wood and taught by Swedish carver Fritiof Runhall. I’ve been carving spoons from green wood for 8 years, so when I first heard about the course I was intrigued but unsure what I would learn. During a visit in early summer, Robin talked me into signing up and I’m very glad he did. Many of you will already have read about the course on Robin’s blog Greenwood Carving so here I’ll just add my own impressions and experiences.
I arrived expecting to be inspired by beautiful craftsmanship and to spend a few days enjoying carving spoons in good company but what I hadn’t expected was to learn so much from Fritiof and his spoons. Right from the start there were new ideas and techniques that surprised, impressed and inspired me. It was very interesting just to watch him work, spot similarities in our techniques and try to emulate and learn from the differences.
To get a deeper understanding of Fritiof’s techniques and style I spent the days making copies of some of his work. Some of this took the form of completed spoons, some where just carvings of handle details. Not only will these act as 3-dimensional references of shapes with size and thickness but taught me much more about spoon carving and Fritiof’s use of bevels, notches and knifework than I would have got by drawing, photographing or even taking home the original.
One of the favourite items on show, and not for sale, was a little bowl carved with a cheeky animal head. I have carved some bowls with duck heads and like the idea of kitchenware with character so spent one morning carving one for myself. This first attempt was time-consuming but I could see how it is actually made up of some relatively simple forms with a layer of fine embellishment on top and I will definitely be carving some more items like this.
In between the course I had the pleasure of spending many hours chatting about spoons with Rob, Fritiof and Barn who was up from his new Bristol spooncarving base. I even managed to get in a conversation with with Fritiof about scythes as he not only mows but makes snaths and hayrakes too.
I’ll finish with a couple of photos of Fritiof’s beautiful spoons: