The community of Finland, Minnesota that I call home was settled by Finnish homesteaders near the turn of the twentieth century. These settlers brought with them their craft traditions, notable amongst them log and timber construction, and green woodworking techniques such as coopering and spoon carving. In many cases, Finnish families intermarried or otherwise culturally mixed with the native Ojibwe people, whose woodworking traditions are also both ancient and remarkably refined.
Each August the Finland Heritage Site hosts a Finnish Festival called the Tori, which features music, food, art, and crafts. I was flattered to be asked to demonstrate spoon carving at this year's Tori. For inspiration, I strolled through the museum and looked at some historical examples.
I spent the rest of the day carving spoons. One of the highlights of the day included talking with several older women from the community, fondly remembering their fathers or grandfathers who had been woodcarvers working in a centuries old tradition. I also enjoyed talking with several local people who took an interest in our native woods, the birch and pin cherry that I mostly use for carving in this area. I received a great complement from one woman, who, looking at one of my spoons, said "I saw one just like this in the museum!". Though I hadn't deliberately copied any existing design, it was enriching to feel that I, too, am working in an old tradition. There are wooden spoons in use in the Scandinavian communities of northeastern Minnesota that were made eighty or one hundred years ago, and it excites me to think that my spoons may be in use here when another century has passed. Many thanks to the organizers of the Finland Tori for hosting me!