Wille Sundqvist, and Snow in Portland!

February 8, 2014 § 2 Comments

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Yesterday the DVD about Wille Sundqvist arrived. Last summer Wille’s son, Jögge, launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project. It was nice to see that the project was completely funded in 24 hours, and by the end they had raised more than twice their modest goal. The DVD came beautifully packaged in a paper booklet instead of the typical plastic case. Wille Sundqvist was born in a time when the tradition of personally making utilitarian household items was common practice in rural Sweden. Through the years he slowly saw this tradition, or craft,  begin to fade – unique homemade items were replaced with pedestrian store-bought counterparts, knives and axes were replaced with game controllers and mobile phones. Now in his late 80s, it’s only been late in life that he’s seen a renewed interest in a simpler, more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle. All you have to do is see all the new blogs, especially those coming out of the U.K., dedicated to carving spoons and bowls. Robin Wood has a been leading voice in the craft resurgence, to the point that he makes a full-time living turning on a spring-pole lathe at his home in Edale, England. Steve Tomlin, Sean Hellman , Simon Hill, and Jon Mac are just a few others. In England the craft has become so popular that they now have a annual gathering, SpoonFest, originally organized by Robin Wood and Jögge Sundqvist.

The most ardent champion of the craft tradition in the U.S. has long been Drew Langsner and his Country Workshops school in Western North Carolina. Wille Sundqvist was one of the first instructors at Country Workshops, and Jögge would follow his father to North Carolina for various classes over the years. It was Drew Langsner who originally came up with the idea of documenting Wille’s work with a DVD. Additional work by Peter Follansbee and Jarrod StoneDahl have brought about increased interest in the U.S., as has the North House Folk School and Milan Village Arts School, both in Minnesota.

The aim of the film is to show not only how Wille works, but why. All those involved thought it was important to have a permanent record of his life, and to hope that the craft of making something as simple as a wooden spoon doesn’t disappear from our society as wholly and complete as the latest must-have piece of technology. I watched a few minutes of the film last night, and will continue to watch it over the next week or so. It looks to be excellent. (I tend to watch woodworking videos in short spurts because they put Judy to sleep.) In the United States, the DVD can be ordered from Country Workshops or Pinewood Forge (and while you’re at Pinewood Forge, go ahead and order one of Del Stubbs’ excellent knives).

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In other news, this weekend was the annual Lie-Nielsen hand tool event at the Northwest Woodworking Studio in Portland, OR. Unfortunately, this was also a weekend where 8″ of snow was dumped on Portland, a city not accustomed to snow actually sticking to the ground for more than a few hours. I was within walking distance so I braved the elements and ventured down. Normally there would be 25-30 people packed into the space, but today I was one of three people there. The whole city is hunkered down – there are more skiers on the streets than cars. I bought a few things at the event, partly because I felt really bad for their rotten luck. I didn’t take any pictures – you can check out my photos from last year’s event here.

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§ 2 Responses to Wille Sundqvist, and Snow in Portland!

  • Richard says:

    Kenneth Kortemeier, a neighbor in mid coast Maine, is beginning to teach green woodworking. He worked with Drew Langsner and was John Brown’s ‘first and last apprentice’ in chair making. Excellent craftsman and great teacher. Check out his spoons and bowls.
    He has a new website tomakeandtobe.com where he lists classes and tells a little of what he is up to.
    Worth following and if you can getting to a class.

    • Eric Bushèe says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the comment and the link to web site. Kortemeier’s work looks really interesting. I’ll start following his blog as well. I wish him luck.

      It’s great to see more and more attention being paid to actually making things with your own two hands. Not everything needs to be bought from Wal-mart.

      -Eric

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