Russell Clark of the Portland Spoon Company uses tree waste for spoons
written by Katrina Emery
The Portland Spoon Company was born out of an excess of wood and a little hobby. Russell Clark, a carver, works by day as an arborist in the Portland Metro area. From tending to the dead and downed trees, he saw so much wood go through the chipper that when he picked up spoon carving he found himself with a glut of material.
He taught himself from books, videos and fellow carvers, online or in person. “The first few were terrible,” he laughed, but he now sells the beautiful spoons, ladles and spatulas online and in a handful of shops around Portland, like the Hoyt Arboretum gift shop.
With all the tips and tricks in his arsenal, and so much passion for the craft, he’s partnered with Wildcraft Studio School to teach spoon carving in its Portland studio space. Four or five times a year, on Sundays, he helps folks form their first spoons.
They start with the basics— how to hold a knife and the importance of good tools, how to make safe cuts and not end up with stitches. They practice by making a simple butter knife, then move on to spoons. A first-time carver will finish a spoon in three to four hours—it takes Clark thirty to forty-five minutes these days. “Take it slow,” he advises. “Pay attention. Don’t get stitches.” Clark’s not worried about competition— in fact, he’d love to see more professional carvers. As for him, he’ll keep carving.