At Greenwood Fest 2016 I was able see a presentation by Jogge Sunvquest http://www.surolle.se/ For me it was the missing piece for why I carved. Why I cared so much about making spoons, bowls, and other items. It brought together both my training as an artist and the art I did with my Grandmother. I felt complete, the two parts of my artistic life the folk art vs the structured studio art came together and meshed. It was the first time I had ever felt that way. I have Jogge to thank for that.
Jogge does what is known in Sweden as Sloyd. Sloyd is farm house craft, or items made at home for home use. We in the USA would call it country craft, or greenwood craft.
He said there were four walls to his studio that is Sloyd.
- The wall of Materials. This is how you use your materials to their best to make the best item you can.
- The wall of Tools. Use your tools to bring out the best of the materials that you are utilizing. Using safe technique that has been handed down for generations.
- The wall of Tradition. Using tools in harmony with the materials in a safe way to maximize your effort. Tradition also guides you to forms, to color, to patterns. They are the art we grew up with not knowing it was art.
- The wall of Folk Art(love). This I was not expecting. Jogge explained that most of the decorated items were given as tokens of love. This was my missing piece when it came to the work I now do.
From Jogge's Blog
"I'm building a room - the creative room that is my boundaries and my greatest freedom. In that room, I can be who I want to be - my alter ego - surolle - a craftsman whose aesthetic expression formed by the walls I will now describe. The content of the walls, I carry with me at all creative paths that I stumble around.
Wall 1, the material - this is the feeling of what tree I should choose to get the right strength, flexibility and softness. When I walk in the woods I'm putting on special glasses - much like Superman's X-ray vision - rakbrillorna to find rakkluvet and p allbensbrillorna of crooked legs - then we ryggbrickobrillorna, Spoon eyes - handle the lenses and bärträglasögan.
With the material I take a wrestling match in the workshop - I go in the clinch, and sometimes I do not know who gives anyone a straight uppercut - stool legs beat a simply shut up sometimes - it comes out something completely new - but only it has the right "beatitude" as Kerouac said, so it will be good - it is a process of dialogue with the material.
Wall 2, the tools and tool skills - I love the cut surface coming from täljgrepp inherited for many generations - refined over thousands of years - a kind of aggregate form aesthetic that is intimately associated with the technology - assemblies and material choices.
Behind me are wall 3 TRADITION. Yes, it was ISSUE WAS IN FRONT OR BEHIND? Perhaps there is a revolving door somewhere?
Tradition's all that people do to survive with respect for themselves and their offspring. In the wood and handicraft world has first made the house of sleeping hours, then husgeråden - chairs, tables, dishes, cabinets, well, whatever the wood.
In Västerbotten have this knowledge a word dialect - that is handy - practically subtle - "farmer smart" to take advantage of all the material around the farms - it is "Int Oslög" ... you should never say that you are good at something ... the double negative. My family on my father's side came here in the 1500s. Maybe I'm tenth generation of craftsmen who work on the knife and ax.
But apropos to wear something with it. We have the fourth wall!
Folk Art wall! And it is you! The people! All the longing, love, desire, incantation, magic and hope that are embedded in this stuff that are made. When a guy would encounter a girl he had a sense of themselves, a spoon to put in his pocket to show the "int oslög" man he was. An evidence of the loving momentum of handicraft aesthetic expression. Craft carries longing for love." (http://www.surolle.se/om-surolle/blogg.html?start=10)
The idea that the items we are making, that we are going to give them (or sell them) as an expression of love is pretty powerful. I think of my grandmother who put of cataract surgery to make two baby quilts before she died so that her great grand child would have something from her make me tear up even now just writing it.
The wall of love gave me back the art of my grandmother, the patterns we used the tradition of my family. It made me a whole Sloyder and changed my outlook on making items.
If you look at the decorated spoons I sell, they are decorated with designs taken from Psyanky eggs. I would make these with my Grandmother and listen to her talk of her mother and how she grew up. This is the person I am, my Grandmothers child.