Books : Slöjd in Wood

From Living Woods Issue 49

Woodworker MAURICE PYLE reviews a Scandinavian classic,
recently translated into English, Slöjd in Wood.

Jögge Sundqvist
Lost Art Press

Even on a superficial level, there is
nothing to dislike about this book, which
is full of vibrant colour photographs,
unique instructional hand-drawn black
and white line drawings and inspirational
‘how to’ projects. Most of all, it just
touches on a raw, compelling nerve that
few of us could fail to connect with. Slöjd,
as author Jögge Sundqvist says, is about
tool marks and carved bevels, worn
colours, idiosyncratic design and the
self-confidence of unschooled folk art

On closer inspection, this is a much
more significant and important book. No
matter what you do as a day job to earn
a living, the sustainability, the creativity
and practical nature of making useful
items for the home will make you feel
just a little more contemplative and give
great satisfaction that you have made
something by hand with a few simple
tools. ‘Slöjd’ literally means handicraft
in Swedish and most often relates to
woodwork; it is also the name of a
system of handicraft-based education.
Dare I say, adopting a slöjd philosophy
could be life-changing? Traditional slöjd
knowledge is enormous, requiring
many years’ experience to reach the
stage where the grasps and confidence
become intuitive, but getting there will
be a heap load of fun.

Having owned, and indeed sold the
original Swedish version of this book for
several years, I thought I knew the book
quite well (as far as understanding the
odd word and appreciating the pictures
goes!) but adding comprehensible text
makes it complete.

I’m totally guessing about this, but
Jögge’s father Wille, who sadly passed
away recently, possibly thought Jögge’s
style a bit wild and wacky but he must
have been so proud that Sweden’s
slöjd in wood tradition was being kept
alive in such a relevant and vibrant way,
appealing to students of all ages.
In this book you’ll learn to make bowls,
a sheath for your knife, spoons, a place
to hang your clothes, cutting boards and
so many more things. In the end, you will
look up into the branches of the trees
around your home and see the things
you need.

Slöjd in Wood is the first English
translation of Jögge’s classic Swedish
book. It’s a peek into a world that is
dominated by saturated colours, crisp
bevels and handmade work.

In addition to introducing you to the
pieces you can make for your home,
Jögge shows you how to grip a carving
knife to produce the cuts that are safe
and efficient, and shows you how to
replicate the deep colours on your
pieces that are simply stunning.
Jögge’s philosophy of slöjd comes
through clearly on every page: make;
don’t buy. Use; don’t waste. Learning is
a lifelong process. ‘Traditional slöjd is a
survival kit for the future.’

The Lost Art Press edition of this
book has been two years in the
making, involving translators on two
continents, plus additional drawings
and text that help explain the work to
an audience that is unfamiliar with the
concepts of slöjd.

It has been produced in a very
similar way to the original Swedish
edition, from the paper’s opacity, to
the binding and hardback cover. This
is a significant, high-quality book that
is designed to last and be relevant for

Jögge has written several books
and produced DVDs on slöjd in
Swedish, but this translation brings
an appreciation and understanding of
working with greenwood to a much
larger audience.

There are several extracts from the
book on the Lost Art Press blog.
Slöjd in Wood is available in the UK
from the Woodsmith Experience.