Carving spoons: India’s first spoon carving workshop

Spoon carving workshop in India

I have a fascination with spoons — hand carved wooden spoons, to be precise. Not the smooth, glossy perfection of mass produced or machine made spoons, but the organic beauty of a spoon carved lovingly by hand.

So when the husband finally decided to hold a spoon carving workshop for beginners {the first ever spoon carving workshop in India!}, I was the first one to sign up for it!

What is spoon carving, you ask?

It’s exactly that — carving a spoon from a piece of wood. You can carve a spoon using dry wood, which is the processed wood that you can buy from the lumber yard. But the traditional Sloyd system, derived from the Swedish word slöjd, which means handicraft or handiwork and refers primarily to woodwork, uses green wood, which is a piece of wood that has been freshly cut and is, therefore, still wet. It’s also known as green woodworking.

Spoon blanks for greenwood working spoon carving
Spoon carving blanks

The process starts by trimming a thick branch from a tree, which is then split into two. Next, the bark and sides are trimmed to make a roughly rectangular shape, which is called a spoon blank. You then draw out a spoon shape on the blank, and you’re ready to carve your very own spoon!

Not that we went off into the woods to chop some branches during the workshop! Kamal, who co-hosted the workshop with Abid {the husband}, provided all the participants with spoon blanks. We started by drawing out our spoon design, and got right into the carving!

India’s first green woodworking spoon carving workshop

Green woodworking is enjoying a revival across most of Europe, US, and Australia. It’s hardly surprising, considering how out of touch we have become with nature and with making things by hand. But green woodworking is still relatively unknown in India. I’m not quite sure why that is — but I do hope that it changes. Because spoon carving, especially using green wood, is an incredibly satisfying experience.

The workshop started with a brief introduction to the process of spoon carving, and a demonstration of how a tree branch is converted into a spoon blank.

Spoon carving workshop participants
Workshop participants getting familiar with the tools and process before carving their own spoons

We were then invited to pick a spoon blank and draw out our own spoon design. Kamal and Abid then demonstrated the next step in the process, which is to shape that rectangular blank into the shape of a spoon using an axe. And off we went, chopping away at and shaping our blanks!

Once we had all shaped our spoons, we moved on to some knife work. You need just two types of knives to carve a spoon — a Slyod knife and a hook knife {which looks just like Captain Hook’s… err…hook}, which is used to scoop out the bowl of the spoon.

WIP of a carved spoon
An in-progress photograph of my spoon. You can see the pencil marks where I drew in the spoon shape.

And it’s with this knife work that the carving of the spoon really begins {at least for me, though I can see Abid giving me a gimlet eye!}. Scooping out the bowl of the spoon and shaping the handle is a slow, mindful, meditative process that is immensely rewarding as you see a spoon coming to shape — and life — in your hands.

Everyone who attended the workshop — beginners all, I must add — not only managed to carve their own spoons, they loved the process so much that they’re eager to sign up for the next workshop with their friends in tow!

Glimpses from the spoon carving workshop

The co-hosts — Abid and Kamal — making some last-minute preparations.

Cutting logs prepping for spoon carving workshop

Spoon carving demonstration

Spoon carving demonstration india

Participants hard at work

spoon carving workshop india

Learning how to use the ax

how to use an ax

Viking feels!

greenwoodworking in India

Happy participants with their spoons

learn spoon carving in india

A short little vlog from the workshop

My finished spoon

And here’s my finished spoon! Isn’t it adorable?

I have two more spoon blanks, carefully wrapped up in plastic and stored in the fridge so that they remain wet — advantages of being married to the instructor, ha! — and my fingers are itching to do some more spoon carving!

Upcoming spoon carving workshops for beginners

Abid and Kamal will be holding regular spoon carving workshops for beginners on the first Saturday of every month, at least until February 2023. These are group workshops that are held in a beautiful outdoor location in South Delhi.

You can also sign up for a one-on-one class with Abid at his workshop in Gurgaon or online.

To find out the exact dates of their next workshop and to see their work, follow Abid and Kamal on Instagram.

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Posted in Delhi Lens.

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?

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