Is there room for another Dutch book about green woodworking? That is the question that first came to my mind when I heard that the famous Flemish spoon carver Harald Lamon was working on a book. The book is now finished and presented (or as the Flemish call it: introduced). I bought and read the book and my answer is yes!
In this blog you can read what you will find in the book and why, in my opinion, it is an addition to the green wood library. In the end you will also get an answer to the question if this is the book for you.
Heart for Wood by Harald Lamon
Cravings for woodcarving
Who is Harald Lamon?
Harald lives in the Flemish city of Bruges. He once studied psychology and management, but he eventually turned his passion for wood into his profession. Harald rolled through bushcraft into spoon carving and discovered green woodworking.
He took lessons from other master (spoon) carvers, started the Lepelhuis (spoonhouse) and the Lepelbos (spoonwoodlands) and also runs the Brugse Lepelclub (spoonclub). Harald is now a master himself and he guides students in a master-apprenticeship program. Harald likes to share his knowledge about and passion for wood and that is why there is now also his book Heart for Wood.
Why the book Heart for Wood?
Harald answers that question himself in his book. He wants to give the reader the desire to make something useful out of wood. A desire to let your creativity room free, but above all he wants you to feel connected. Connected with other makers, connected with the wood and nature, and the history of man and his relationship with wood.
The book is mainly intended as a book that covers the basics on green wood working, with a thorough, complete and understandable explanation about wood, tools, working safely and as a reference for making a number of small utensils.
You notice from everything that the book was written in the with the desire to communicate the sence community, that feeling of being connected, to be inspired and to create that carving to create, to carve. It embodish the whish that the knowledge about carving green wood will not only be preserved, but that more and more people will embrace green wood carving as a hobby or craft. That feels ambitious, but does the book actually deliver?
On the cover you see Harald’s hands holding a kuksa filled with pine tea and a spoon with a droplet still hanging from it after stirring the tea. Out of focus in the background, is the smile of the maker of the kuksa and also the writer of the book in his trademark red checkered shirt.
We see this shirt throughout the book in the many photos. Interspersed with Harald’s other favorite, a hand-knitted green sweater. The book feels heavy in your hands and the matte, crisp designed pages are filled with warm green and brown tones.
The projects in the book are explained step by step in words, photos and also drawings. These illustrations are by the hand of the multi-talented Nico de Wispelaere, fellow townsman and fellow spoon carver. “Drawings depict a story that a photo cannot capture and that is difficult to describe in words,” explains Harald during the book presentation. One of the illustrations in the book is his favorite, he later tells me: the one about hollowing out a shrink pot. He is most ‘content’ with that drawing, because it shows the carving directions when making a shrink pot in a way that a photo cannot. But the other drawings are also beautiful and effective.
The book is written in Dutch, but luckily it has retained Harald’s Flemish identity through the use of words such as a ‘tjoepeke’ (prenounce: choo-pu-ku). A word that the Dutch will now also get to know as the knob on the lid of a shrink jar. Or “the microwave”, which for unclear reasons is known as “magnetron” in the Netherlands. And although the word “goesting” (prenounce: gooseting) (feeling the the desire to do something) largely did not survive the final editing, fortunately that beautiful Flemish word has been preserved in Harald’s afterword.
Structure and subjects
The book takes you on a journey of the maker, the wood, the craft, the projects and finally zooms out to the greater meaning of this way of making. Harald talks about what woodcarving means to him and what inspires him. He considers the relationship between man and wood, the properties of wood and where you find it.
Then comes the craft. He discusses the tools of the green woodcarver: the woodcarving axe, the woodcarving knife and the pull saw. This is followed by four chapters with projects. Smaller and simpler projects such as the coat hook, the bag clip, the candlestick, pot hanger and the forest pencil. This is followed by three chapters with some advanced projects: spoon carving, the kuksa and shrink pots. Especially the last two are for many people a next step in their green woodworking journey, since many of us start with carving spoons. The fact that this book also offers step-by-step guides on these projects makes this book more complete than many other books. Of course, finishing and decoration should not be missing either, so you will also find a chapter about that.
There is also a separate chapter dedicated to one of the most important skills of any woodworker: smart and fast sharpening of your tools. The book closes with a final chapter in which Harald discusses inclusivity, connectedness and sustainability in woodcarving.
What does it add?
Does this book belong in the (Dutch) green wood library? I think so. It offers an extensive collection of very detailed step-by-step descriptions with a wealth of photos and illustrations. That is a real adventage of this book compared to many other books.
But there is more, because Harald knows how to add something extra to every project that goes just a step further than the basics. For example, with the coat hook, he shows how nice it is to vary the number of hooks and the length of the hooks. When making the shrink pot, Harald explains which aspects influence the moisture content of the wood and how you can make a shrink pot shrink super-fast. In many projects he shows variations that stimulate creativity and invite you to get started and to keep experimenting.
Is this book for you?
This book is for anyone who wants to learn how to carve small, useful wooden utensils from green wood. It also teaches you a lot about wood: how it grows, how you use it and what makes it unique as a material. The beginner finds basic knowledge about tools, the wood and working safely. The same beginner will be able to use the thorough step-by-step explanation per project. For each project, Harald explains concisely and in clear language what you need to know to get started.
The advanced carver also gets worth for his or her money. Harald describes for each project which specific points of attention there are and how you can best deal with them. For example, which work order he follows when carving a spoon. And how to detect problems in the wood as early as possible in the process, before they become a show stopper. As a result, the book offers more than just the necessary basics to get started. Harald gives a lot of tips and tricks that are also very useful for the advanced carver.
As far as I’m concerned, this book is an addition to the other books on this subject. It is now only available in Dutch/Flemish. But how nice it would be if the rest of the world could also become acquainted with Harald’s knowledge and contagious enthusiasm through a translation. An English translation would be appropriate, although that will be a challenge for the final editors. Because microwave can literally be translated and ‘goesting’ could be roughly translated to craving. But tjoepeke…?
Online book presentation April 12th
On Wednesday April 12th, Harald will be giving a free online book presentation. Click here to join!
How to order
Hart voor Hout is available at regular (online) bookshops, at Harald himself in his Belgian webtop or via my own web shop (signed by Harald himself, while stocks last). At the moment the book is only available in Dutch, but there has been shown an interest in translating his book to English.
Boek Hart voor Hout€29,99