Venue hosts encore show for local wood carver
Small shards of wood fly across the gallery and land on the floor.
Kyle Pearson starts the spoon carving by making a frame of the spoon from a log with an axe. Pearson prefers using “green” or unseasoned timber as it is much softer and easier to shape with hand tools.
A man with a rough beard and tattooed arms stands by a stump, carefully positioned to catch the ax if it happens to slip too close to his wrist.
From the initial stages, this may not seem like traditional art.
The Venue Fine Arts and Gifts hosted an encore wooden spoon carving demonstration Tuesday featuring local Bloomington artist Kyle Pearson.
Pearson, an artist specializing in the craft, showed his carving abilities and mingled with guests as they examined the methods behind this type of woodcarving.
He also passed around examples of his completed spoons, which The Venue had available for purchase.
Gabriel Colman, owner and curator of The Venue, said the decision to host this particular event was not difficult.
“We use our Tuesday nights for art-related events and we’ve done one in the past where (Pearson) came down and basically transformed a block of wood into a functional spoon, and he uses a series of hatchets, fine knives and tools,” Colman said.
Pearson specializes in the folk-inspired, old-world Scandinavian technique of green woodcarving, Colman said. Green woodcarving makes use of freshly fallen and cut trees, which have the most moisture of all the woods.
Pearson’s wife, Darcy, was also along for the demonstration. The two spent much of the time completing one another’s thoughts and filling in blanks on terminology or history.
“Oh geez, when did I get started?” Pearson asked Darcy as he set up for the demonstration.
“About two years ago?” Darcy said.
“It was in spring,” the two said in unison.
Pearson said the transition from traditional art forms to this particular form of carving came at a time of joy for the couple.
“I was doing a lot of primitive craft and our daughter, our youngest daughter, had just been born so I made a rattle for her,” Pearson said. “I tried making a spoon one day and literally fell in love with it, and I haven’t stopped since then.”
Pearson said he only makes spoons and bowls now, though he has dabbled in multiple art forms through the years.
“I’ve done pottery, painting, drawing, you know, all kinds of stuff,” Pearson said. “Pretty much your typical artist.”
Pearson said he has done a few demonstrations around Indiana, and reception has been generally positive among his audience.
“People love to see woodchips flying and axes swinging,” Pearson said. “It seems really dangerous, and that makes people really pay attention.”
The demonstration included Pearson walking the audience through each stage of the woodworking process, starting with the piece of wood fresh from the tree, then showing the shaved down block and continuing with the spoon-shaped carving, which he then hollowed out to create the familiar spoon shape.
Darcy said she hopes people took away a better understanding of the craft.
Pearson agreed and added he hopes to foster awareness for “the craft, the movement, the history and inspiration to get away from mass-produced mediums.”
Pearson, a stay-at-home father of five, said he uses his free 10-to-15-minute increments to work on his spoons at home. He said the family is hoping to be metal spoon-free fairly soon.
Throughout his demonstration, Pearson emphasized the need for his crafts to be functional instead of just fancy.
“Our main focus is making usable works of art out of reclaimed materials with emphasis on kitchenware, on wooden spoons, anything that’s not furniture,” he said.
That doesn’t mean Pearson’s spoons aren’t ornate. Darcy’s contribution to the spoons comes in the form of kolrosing, the process of carving ornate designs into the spoon then rubbing some sort of darker pigment, in her case espresso, into the wood to show the contrast in the design.
Darcy said her inspiration for design draws mainly on the European style Pearson crafts his spoons after, though sometimes she draws on her own ideas.
“Sometimes, something will come out of the wood and you can see it,” Darcy said.
The Venue hosted Pearson’s first demonstration in November. Full attendance at that first workshop made them decide to invite Pearson for another performance.
“We had a full house, and it speaks to kind of a niche within the community of people who like to be crafty within that particular medium of wood,” Colman said.
Colman said he met Pearson last year and was not sure what the demonstration itself would entail, but after he saw the craft in action, he knew he made a good choice.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Colman said. “I knew it would be messy, and it was messy. Within a very comfortable time frame, he was able to take raw materials and turn it into a functional piece of artwork.”
Read More: Wooden Spoon Craft