Thanks to the lockdown, the past few months were no joy. No spoon festivals, markets, wood events and hardly any workshops. It also seems that it will take a while before all those things are allowed again. As a (starting) spoon carver, how do you get yourself through the lockdown? Here’s my lockdown survival guide with seven tips to get you spoon carving!
Seven tips to spoon carve yourself through the lockdown
1. Make spoons!
It’s obvious, but it’s perhaps the most important tip of all. Make spoons! Spoon-carving is the way to escape video conferencing, kids who are fed up with it all and feelings of frustration because you can’t do what you like. It is mindfulness all the way. You are in the here and now for a moment, because if you don’t pay attention to what you do, your spoon gets ruined. Or you cut your fingers. Or both. But if you concentrate on what you do, after a few hours you will have something beautiful in your hands that you have made all by yourself. And that feels wonderful! You do not have to go outside, because even after curfew you can easily work at the kitchen table for an hour or so.
2. Swap a spoon
You can make spoons for yourself, but if you make one for someone else, you tend to give it your best. That is why it is very nice to arrange a spoon swap. You make the best possible spoon for your exchange buddy and he/she makes one for you. It is very pleasing to make something beautiful and also exciting to wait at the mailbox for a package with a nice surprise.
At the beginning of the lockdown, Sandra Witteman and I organized a large spoon swap in the Netherlands, in which more than 30 spoon carvers participated. We will organize the next one in September, but nothing will stop you from arranging your own exchange in the meantime. Search for another spoon carver with whom you want to trade via Instagram for example and propose a trade.
3. Online adventures
Carving spoons is fun and carving spoons together (or talking about them) is also great fun. Fortunately, we have the internet for that. You can meet other spoon carvers every day at Rise Up & Carve via Zoom. It is an international initiative of an American spoon carver to learn together and so become better spooncarvers. It is an open channel that anyone can log into at any time, but there are also a few set times when people meet. Challenges are also organized where you are challenged to create a specific model.
Do you find it difficult to talk in English or when you’d also like to meet other spoon carvers from the Netherlands and Flanders, then there is (in good Dutch 😊) the Curfew Carving via Skype. That is also an open channel, but we mainly meet every Saturday at the start of the curfew at 9:00 PM. If you want to participate, send me a message.
4. Corona-proof course
These are difficult times for the people who give professional spoon carving workshops, but they too have adapted to the times. For example, in the Netherlands, at vers-hout.nl, eemlepel.nl and a number of others you can follow corona-proof workshops with a maximum of 2 people. Some even offer home workshops. They teach you, among other things, a good basis in safe knife techniques. It is wise to master and practice them. It is of course not the intention that you have an accident at home on your own and that we then have to watch via Skype how you have to find a bandaid or your telephone on your own … And by the way, you can also buy tools at many of the ‘small’ workshop providers to get started yourself. The prices do not differ much from the large web shops and you help them through the corona winter.
5. Buy a book
The Dutch book Lepelhout has been available in bookstores since the end of last year. It is a book in which you can read all about how to make your first spoon and much more. Perfect for those long evenings during curfews and in preparation for a workshop whenever that’s possible again. Or, if you dare, start carefully by yourself.
6. Get blanks
If you want to get started yourself, but you can’t chop because you don’t have an ax or live in an apartment, you can also buy so-called “spoon blanks” via the internet. These are rough spoons on which the axe work has already been done and that you can finish yourself. I sell them occasionally, but internationally you can also get them from a website like the spoon crank. And if you are looking for a complete starter package, eemlepel.nl even has a “Zoom Survival Kit“, consisting of knives and a load of fresh wood.
7. Follow a webinar
And now for some shameless advertising: to make the long evenings during the lockdown a bit more interesting, I organized a number of dutch webinars under the title Masters of Sloyd, made possible by the wonderful cooperation of a number of artisans who wanted to talk about their specialty without any monetary compensation. We have already talked about the Japanese lacquer technique urushi, shrink pots and linseed oil. Still on the program are webinars about spoon design, clog making and the book Lepelhout. They are on Thursday evenings at 8:30 PM and you can participate for free via Zoom.
Bonus: be positive!
Those were 7 tips to get through the lockdown. The 8th tip is perhaps the most important: stay positive despite everything and look for what is possible! Even now there are plenty of opportunities to make spooncarving into a fun hobby.
Do you have any tips for me or have I forgotten the golden tip? Send me a message and I’ll be happy to add it to the list!