Mark Angelini produces hand carved wooden spoons, bowls, plates and other useful objects with traditionl tools in Sedalia, Virginia.

Handcraft, Farmersmart, Craftiness

Turning a bowl on my foot power driven spring pole lathe: arguably one of the pinnacles of the embodiment of sloyd. The handmade lathe, the hand forged hooks and the return spring crafted from a tree sapling.

What is Sloyd?

Sloyd (derived from the Swedish word slöjd) is a term referring to handcraft, wood work, and general “craftiness”. It exists broadly as a pedagogy emphasizing working with one’s hands and simple tools to manipulate wood—as well as textiles, paper, and other mediums under the term hemslöjd—to create various useful objects like spoons, bowls, coat hangers, buttons, and so on.

I became fascinated with this term after reading Jögge Sundqvist’s description of the history of sloyd as, “The word Slög is the viking word for slöjd meaning farmersmart, crafty, handy”. Sloyd is a philosophy of working with our surroundings—the landscape, the farm—our available tools and sources of energy—axes, knives, hands and muscles—and an attitude of playfulness and intuition where we listen to what the materials we work with have to say to produce various objects to meet various needs in daily life.

This is the theme I endeavor to embody, explore and popularize, hoping that many will be inspired to live more simply and creatively while connecting to their local environment and making a more beautiful handmade world.

My Story

Creativity and making are part of my genes. My father is an artist, sculptor, designer, and all around handy man. His father was an inventor and artist. My other grandfather was an engineer and always tinkered in his shop. From an early age I was immersed in making with my hands—sculpting clay, drawing, painting and so on. I learned how to use shop tools and basic woodworking skills in elementary school—my first project was a birdhouse in my grandfathers shop.

In 2011, after years of being immersed in the fields of ecological design, regenerative agriculture, organic gardening and so on, I discovered a way of working wood that dovetailed with my ethics and lifestyle almost seamlessly. From here I became obsessed with working with axe and knife to master spoon carving. It soon became a serious hobby, then side business. As I learned more about the philosophy of sloyd, I realized how important these skills and creations are to my life and human culture, and embraced the philosophy as a way of life. 
Aside from producing hand carved spoons, wooden plates, bowls, and other utensils and useful wooden creations, I co-own and operate Mountain Run Permaculture with my wife. We farm and homestead on a corner of Mountain Run Farm, managing an interwoven system with livestock, orchards, forestry, pasture, gardens, and more. Sloyd is a foundational philosophy influencing everything I do whilst also being informed by my connection to the land, stewardship, and the value of land-based livelihood.

Sedalia, Virginia

Sedalia is the tiny town in which my wife and I live, nestled at the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Appalachia. This is a place in many ways left alone by time in respect to the pace of modern America, where people still wave at strangers and selflessly help one’s neighbor. Here we farm and homestead, tend forests, orchards, and gardens, and connect deeper and deeper everyday to the the land around us while we figure out how to live from and with it.