Meet your maker: Henry Neville Wood
Author: MAGGIE SCARDIFIELD
12:00AM, Jul 12, 2016
Wooden spoons that hold their own, even in the busiest of family kitchens.
Woodworker Henry Neville Wood hand-carves functional homewares from local and sustainably sourced timber. Spoons are his signature - whether you're talking porridge or soup, or a tiny teaspoon for sugar or jam. Each has its own subtle but distinct personality. At his top-floor studio above the hum of Smith Street in Melbourne's Fitzroy, Wood hand-cuts, shapes, sands and oils the spoons in between cups of tea. "Carving requires concentration and little distraction," he says. "The ground is under a sea of shavings, but I can contemplate and carve in peace there."
How did you get into woodwork, Henry?
I was mentored by a fantastic woodworker called Pierre Morency on the small island of Fjäderholmarna in the Stockholm Archipelago. I went to build sculptures with him, but we ended up experimenting with small homewares. When Pierre packed up his workshop, I moved to Melbourne with my spoon-carving knives and a fire in my belly.
What's the romance of a handcrafted spoon?
It's a reminder to slow down and to create more fulfilling relationships with the objects that facilitate our everyday rituals. Each spoon takes about four to eight hours to produce, depending on the temperament of the wood. My intent is to make the perfect spoon but it's often the slight imperfections that set them apart. It's a labour of love.
How do you go about sourcing the timbers?
I try to find timbers that would otherwise go into the chipper. A lot of the wood comes out of people's gardens and from surrounding farms. Occasionally I will pull a piece out of a skip, off a riverbank or buy from the reclamation yard. Silver birch is wonderful to work with. It's easy to carve and often has incredible spalting - wood colouration caused by a kind of fungi. I try to find a purpose for even the smallest scraps, too. You can never have enough teaspoons or stirrers.
Do your spoons change with time?
When new, they feel soft and silky to the touch, but with use they take on a more robust feel. My spoons at home bear the markings of a lifetime of family meals. They can quickly be returned to new with a light sand and oil.
What inspires you to make new work?
Conversations with strangers, having a rucksack on my back with my thumb out, and drinking tea with my dad.
Henry Neville Wood spoons are priced from $20. henrynevillewood.com