Marvelous Wooden Spoons

Hand-carved spoons by Marie Eklund are mini-masterpieces.
Wooden spoons

Photographs by Sara Mac Key

Woodworker Marie Eklund is one of only nine residents in the quiet town of Tangerasa, Sweden, a three-hour drive west of Stockholm. In 2013, she purchased a parcel of wooded farmland that offers boundless inspiration for her line of rough-hewn hand-carved spoons marked by imperfections, missing fragments, and haphazard shapes. “If a spoon breaks because I’ve made a mistake, it doesn’t become worthless to me,” says Eklund, a former professional musician who turned to woodworking six years ago. “Without defects, objects and even people are boring. There is no complexity, no life.”

Throughout the week, Eklund scours her property for “any fresh tree I can find,” including birch, oak, or maple, among other varieties, then uses an ax to cut the trunks into small pieces, which she lets dry in an unheated outbuilding for three weeks. With a carving knife, the artisan crafts each utensil’s slender form, working freely and without a plan. At some point, she interrupts the sculpting process and sets the spoon ablaze in an outdoor firepit, which discolors it and sears off excess wood.

Photographs by Sara Mac Key

Next, she buries the spoon in soil for a few weeks to as much as one year, then submerges the earth-tarnished piece in a nearby swamp for several days, further enhancing the spoon’s distinct patina and coloring. “I want my spoons to mimic branches,” explains Eklund, whose creations are available at Radnor in Brooklyn (a coat of linseed oil makes them food-safe). “Pick up a twig in the woods, and you’ll see varying shades of gray, brown, and black, all from being exposed to water and soil. That mix of colors is beautiful and what I’m looking to achieve.”

Although Eklund’s designs have local roots, each spoon is intended to delight people far beyond her tiny farm. “Wood carving is typically a male-dominated craft in Sweden,” she reflects, “but my spoons are carved with women in mind. I want to make elegant, delicate shapes to hold in the hand.”