I’d much rather be sitting next to him on a bench carving spoons, but this promises to be a classic tutorial and I know he’s been practicing so mine’s in the mail.
Here’s the link to his website where there is a video preview. Click Here
Be prepared…if you go down this road you will have more fun than a human ought to have and you will never need another session of therapy or artificial mood enhancer.
While you are on his site, which he has just updated, there are tons of other Follansbee items of interest including other videos, his workshop schedule and some of his very own spoons and other woodworking projects for sale.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Please share with your friends, woodworking pals and otherwise.
From 2003 – The Whipper In This one has only been seen once in a show at the Granary. I think it is providing insulation in our bedroom at the moment. It’s our log cabin living room and, if you’ve been there then you are in a very special group of friends and family. The painting upper left is a reproduction of one I did for the Follansbees of their front yard. Kinda fun to see that again. As of last night, that fireplace is still keeping us warm…
2005 – The Flyer Boy did I love painting that red. That mail bag was a victim of the major flooding we had a few years ago. Loyal friend Susan Douglas took it home and lovingly cleaned it and I just unearthed it yesterday for a new painting idea. Then I went up to the old studio, which is now my prop room, and found that jacket too. It wasn’t quite right for the new painting, but it was a solid yes for The Flyer.
It’s a wonderfully dreary start to the day before Thanksgiving in central Pennsylvania, the perfect weather for painting.
We, like so many in this land, have a large plucked bird in the fridge and are planning to roast it with most of the trimmings and be thankful. And I am, for many things. But today, I thought I’d concentrated on…the birds.
Watching them, feeding them, learning about them, painting them, and most of all the delight of coming upon the treasured gift of their feathers.
The studio is full of them. Collected over the years, their beauty astounds. With my new bionic knees I am back out on the trails, and the muses are back as well…
After finding this beauty, I decided it was time to get serious about identification so I got this book…
Which I highly recommend. I’ve been pouring over it for days now. And the first one I spied was this one which recently made a supporting role appearance in this painting you might remember…
if you zoom in on the Jorgesen, that would be the clamp for you non-woodworkers, you will see the feather, which…every single one of the avian enthusiasts mis-identified. I have four of them which have been floating around here for years. But right there on page 91…
we see that it belonged to a Chukar ! Further research, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, reveals that the Chukar is…
A native of southern Eurasia, the Chukar was introduced into the United States from Pakistan to be a game bird. It lives in arid, rocky terrain across the western United States and southern Canada. And then it hit me…I already knew that. Insert fading memory comments here as you will, but it all came back to me. Years ago, I’ll say 4, I found one perched on my studio garage roof. As you can see, it is a stunner of a bird so it caught my attention, but it is also not a local gal. I also seem to remember that, when first I googled this creature, there was mention of raising these smallish sized birds to release for hunters to take down with big guns, ( picture me here shaking my head in dismay).
The memory of finding the feathers is lost but, when I decided to take the leap to add that little bit of whimsy to Peter’s painting, it was after all a painting of Peter, the birdman of Plymouth, I didn’t have to look far to find the perfect candidate as these four feathers have been tucked into a little blue teacup behind my easel for lo those, I’ll say four, years now.
Above that easel is this display of painting and sketch and original model…
And yes, the muses are right there over my shoulder of late…
Cardinal Wolsey. The ever present window slammer of a bird, is still with me. I now believe she is more than just a disturbed bird. Pat and Finn met a woman at the park last week who, after hearing the story of the intrepid one, immediately suggested that she was someone who I had known who had “passed on” and did I know anyone in the clergy. Well I sat back in my chair at that one. Seriously, my father, the Presbyterian minister, returned as the slammer ?
Possibly ? I’m still pondering that one. But this bird is definitely trying to tell me something. She now follows me from window to window and watches me all day long. Hurling Herself at the panes seems to diminish when I settle in at the easel. Then she just flies up and stares at me…the rubbernecker.
Well, ok, that part could be Ted. He is definitely nudging me to focus on painting…probably as I write this…which is taking time away from what I began this blog with…
that perfect painting day.
Well, the dreary rain has turned to our first snowfall of the season. The promise of a winter wonderland, a bird in the oven, one at the window, and two dozen at the feeders…that’s all I need of Thanksgiving.
And, this…to all my friends and patrons, whose support allows me to do the work that is so meaningful to my soul…
It was a stellar time on Martha’s Vineyard. A magnificent gallery opening with wall to wall kind and generous patrons of the arts, bookended by two amazing weeks on the wildly changed and stunningly brilliant Chilmark bluff.
I’ll have more to say about that and this, but for now, I have to kick the studio up into high gear to get ready for the next show…stay tuned.
Here are just a couple pics of the exhibition and smiling faces of dear ones who shared our island hearts…
4 Featured Artists, Wendy, Don, Heather and David, as we get ready to shake some hands.
Wendy, Herself and David making everyone feel welcome.
Mr. Morse plying his trade.
Ted, wouldn’t have missed it.
Family traditions …
The gallery’s next generation…
The Follansbee Family full of fun.
And a wonderful whirlwind reunion with Goddaughter Emily.
Notably missing are photos of the rest of the Granary Crew, Sheila, Adam, Sara, Nancy and Adam, the second, who were far too busy working hard to keep that place hopping. We are deeply grateful for everyone’s support up there…both humble and proud to be a part of their stable…as it were.
More to come as I sort through the ten thousand or more photos taken. The camera is still smokin’. For now…I gotta go hit the brushes… Be happy all.
The thread of our friendship has been weaving itself for nigh on to three decades now, and lately I believe my little studio wren has one end and his beloved cedar waxwings up north have hold of the other…drawing us ever closer… in spirit if not in miles.
After a hearty breakfast of sausage and French toast, Herself and Finn have left the building to give me some of that concentrated painting time that has been my bliss this winter. But a quick look at this morning’s missive by Himself encourages a quicker note here…passed along for your pleasure.
We have been lobbing these musings back and forth via the blogosphere but I sure would prefer to pull up one of those fancy pants chairs he carves next to his window and spend the day carving a spoon alongside the master and listening to Rose and Daniel telling stories about squirrels and pirates in the background.
Here’s the link to read how he is spending his creative snow day…
Debbie reports that early Macintosh Apples are for sale today at the orchard…State Road, Martha’s Vineyard.
This is exciting news since last year there was almost no apple crop due to early spring weather. I sure wish we could stop over and pick a few, they’re some of the best flavors on the island. The orchard is just a stone’s throw down the lane from where the Obama family will be staying this week and they are due to arrive this afternoon. Might want to leave a basket by the road for the secret service Debbie !
I just got off the phone with Ted, who modeled for this series of paintings a few years back, and he reports that the Chilmark Road Race runners had perfect weather for the annual run up Middle Road. This month is the busiest on the island and, though I often wish we could be there to share in the fun…I’m quite happy to be home enjoying some “quiet” summertime days.
Here in the Pennsylvania studio I am catching up on chores and getting ready for another Follansbee drive by as he heads south to lead a workshop at Drew and Louise Langsner’s Country Workshops. You will know him by the spoon shavings that appear in his wake…and the ones that gather shortly thereafter under my sky chair.
Some new work is…in the works… and I’ll give you a sneak peak next time. Til then, take a big bite out of what’s left of the summer and say hi to the Magnuson’s for me if you stop by for some of their Macs !
I thought you would appreciate an update on the Wille Sundqvist Movie project. They received an amazing response for their Kickstarter campaign to help raise money to fund their production of the movie to capture Wille’s woodworking genius.
Peter wrote a bit more about his connection to Wille and his road to being the pre-eminant 17th Century Joiner in the modern world. It includes a photo taken at the beginning of that journey … what a bunch of manly men…reminds me from where my hippie roots were so happily planted.
I’ve still got to resist the urge to pick up an axe rather than these tiny brushes as the Granary Show deadline lurches ever closer…but soon…very soon…I’ll get a spoon carving break and my blood pressure will slow accordingly.
I got a note back from Jogge Sundqvist the other day, when I wrote to congratulate him on the immediate success of the kickstarter fundraising. Here’s part of what he wrote:
This is just overwhelming!
I haven´t in my deepest imagination ever thought that we should reach the goal so quickly. Within 24 hrs…
This is so helpful, not just the money, it also strengthens everyone involved in self-confidence and trust in the movie to be something really good.
And everyone involved in the film is full of humility and wonder at the response we’ve had to make the film about Wille.
We have a little way to go before our actual budget… I hope you still want to continue to spread the word about the film, every little contribution is incredibly valuable to make a film of high artistic quality and with a clear content.
BUT – you might ask: What’s all the fuss about Wille Sundqvist and some wooden spoons? Ha! You’d be amazed.
Wille Sundqvist spoon
As the years keep ticking by, I often think about connections and chronologies. May times people will think about events in their lives, and how one simple happening might turn your life this direction or that…and I think that without Wille, I might not be a joiner/woodworker today. Certainly not a spoon carver. And yet we barely know each other…
I first heard of Wille of course from Drew Langsner, whom I met in 1980. That was the start of my woodworking career, although you wouldn’t have seen it coming then! I have often told the story of how I got to Drew’s Country Workshops to learn traditional woodworking. I was a mainstay there in the 2nd half of the 1980s and early 1990s (til I got a job…).
But how did Country Workshops begin? Drew has told me and many others the story many times, and a while back wrote it down in one of the Country Workshops e-newsletters. http://www.countryworkshops.org/newsletter31/ (scroll down to “CW History” – and if you haven’t yet, you can sign up for their free newsletter. It always has good stuff in it, besides update on classes and tools, etc.)
The gist of it is that Bill Coperthwaite brought Wille Sundqvist to meet Drew & Louise in 1976 or 77. Drew had a couple days’ worth of lessons from Wille, and was wanting more. Thus the idea of inviting him to come teach a workshop, which led to the Langsners hosting woodworking classes ever since.
Drew included Wille in his first woodworking how-to book, Country Woodcraft, in 1978. That’s where I first saw/heard of Wille.
Wille Sundqvist 1978
Then as I became a regular student at Country Workshops, I often heard stories of Wille’s craft and his teaching, and also saw examples of his work. As it turned out, I met his son Jogge first, in 1988. Then a few years later I was able to attend one of Wille’s classes.
Here is a quote from Wille’s book, Swedish Carving Techniques (Taunton Press, 1990):
“Carving something with a knife or an ax is a very tangible way to get a sense of design. Because the object being made doesn’t have to be secured in any way, it’s easy to move it to different positions and see its lines and shape grow out of the blank. A three-dimensional object isn’t just a picture. It’s an infinite number of pictures, and all of the pictures must find harmony within the object. The lines of the object must compose one unit, congruent from whatever direction it is seen. Carving teaches design.”
And that is really a big part of it. Wille’s spoons are very deceptive. Unlike any furniture work I do, these are subtractive woodworking – you’re cutting wood away & leaving just the right bits. You hope. Each cut means something. There’s so many layers to what Wille teaches – the postures, the tools, the design. You learn about wood and how it grows; and its strengths and weaknesses. Also about the tools, the edge and how it slices. If you have ever seen me use a hatchet, that work comes to me from Wille, some of it directly and much of it through Drew & Jogge.
To me, the spoon carving is a revolutionary act. It helps cut through the mass-produced cheap culture that we have absorbed like zombies. Such a simple household implement, taken to extraordinary heights. Why shouldn’t our most basic kitchen stuff be beautiful? Out with plastic! Think about Coperthwaite and his quote “I want to live in a world where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.”
The kickstarter campaign runs for 4o more days and at this writing is over $7,000. That’s not counting whatever got donated directly to Drew or Jogge. Thanks to everyone from here who helped. If you’re inclined, please spread the word.
I went searching on my website for the pic of this painting to use in today’s blog post and discovered that it had never been added to my portfolio. So I guess I was meant to read Peter’s Blog today, as I do most days actually. I need to be painting…NEED to be painting…but I wanted to quickly let you all know of a kickstarter campaign that he mentioned on his blog and it’s all about… Spoons !
Peter learned spooncarving from Wille, I learned spooncarving from Peter, and carving spoons is just about the most fun a person can have. So they want to make a movie about Wille, who is a national treasure in his home country of Sweden. And they need some money to do this and do this now as Wille is getting on in years. Basically you are pre-ordering the dvd and, as with all kickstarter campaigns, you don’t get charged unless they make their goal.
Here’s a pic for his AAC Feb 2011 magazine article which John O’Hern took of me carving a spoon on the studio porch…
And one of Peter a few years back carving a spoon on the log cabin porch…
So for all my woodworking pals out there…
Since it looks like Peter’s day is as chock full as mine I stole the following right off of his site rather than put it in my own words so you can read below…
and, even though I’m going to have to fight the overwhelming temptation to pick up a chunk of cherry and a knife… now I’ll get back to the easel.
I’m in a rush right now (clean up shavings in the kitchen from last night’s spoons, help get the kids off to school, me to work, etc) – so I will write at length about this later. But let’s get it together to raise this money pronto. Shouldn’t be hard. When you get to watch this video, you will be amazed. Here’s a snippet from the kickstarter blurb
“The biggest risk this project is that Wille Sundqvist is 87 years old. He is getting tired of age but still he is working with craft everyday. Last week when I talked to Wille he said he was in good shape and that he was eager to start with recording the film in June. He told me he is refusing all orders just to make bowls and spoons for the most generous donors. This tells us how he looks upon his own status. But of course everything can happen with a man at his age.”
If you are leery of using kickstarter, you can send a check to Drew Langsner.
It’s a bright sunny day here in the studio and I’m getting an early start but before I head to the easel here is a delightful video which I watched on my friend Peter’s Blog while sitting at the kitchen table pondering breakfast. Definitely worth the few minutes it takes to get lost among the cottages and the cupboards… ‘Tis a grand way to greet the day