Hello! We are Kyra and Marian, the pair behind Sylvastine. Kyra designs and creates little wooden things, mostly spoons. She learned to work with wood from Marian, who learned to work with wood from his father, and besides spoons also has been known to make knife handles, salad servers, brunch tables, beds, chicken coops, log cabins, and even solar dehydrators. We both just really like making things. During the last several years we have been fortunate enough to split our time between two beautiful places: the lovely city of Vienna, Austria, and a farm in northern Colorado. Living in both places has inspired us to create and exist in a way that honors the cultural values of both the new and the old world. From Austria we bring faith in high quality materials and good old-fashioned craftsmanship, and the certainty that aesthetics and quality of design are just as important as functionality and efficiency. Colorado has given us openness to new ideas and a strong sense of adventure and entrepreneurship. When we are in Colorado, we get the feeling our ambitions will be met with enthusiasm and encouragement. For this reason we see Colorado as the optimal location for our ideas to materialise...who knows where these spoons and solar dehydrators could lead us! At the beginning of 2015 we moved our “home base” from Austria to Colorado, where we promptly bought a band saw and began creating things out of the garage. This is the beginning.
Each piece we make is completely unique, because of the process it goes through to become a spoon, a scoop, or whatever it is, and because of the inherent qualities of wood. The process usually starts in one of two ways: either we have an idea of a certain shape or type of utensil we want to create, which we sketch out first on paper and then trace onto a block of wood, or we find a certain piece of wood that just really wants to be turned into something, in which case the grain and patterns in the material dictate the shape.
We use a combination of power and hand tools to create our objects. After working out the shape we want, we cut out a "blank" on a bandsaw. Then comes the fun part: using gauges and a hook knife we scoop out the bowl, creating a mountain of wood curl confetti in the process. We use a carving knife, files, a drawknife, and a belt sander to shape the rest of the object. We then hand sand and scrape the wood until it is perfectly smooth. Drawing a scraper across the surface of the wood eliminates some of the scratches left by sandpaper and presses down the wood fibres instead of tearing them.
We finish our objects with a long soak in heat treated walnut oil. After their oil bath they get wiped dry and left alone for a week or two to let the oil harden, and then they get one last polish. Voilà!
Our favourite woods to carve are pear, plum, and walnut. We source our wood from literally wherever we can: we reuse wood from old projects, people give us wood they don't need or even want to get rid of...often we collect it from trees trimmed or cut down around town, since we work in landscaping, where opportunities never cease for collecting a steady supply of reclaimed urban hardwoods. We have amassed quite a stack of pear, crabapple, and plum wood from the gardens we work in. This "rescued" wood is often green, which makes it easier to carve but more likely to warp and crack. We love it none the less as it comes with a unique story that can often be seen in the knots and swirls of the wood. Sometimes we peruse the shelf of leftover bits and pieces at our local lumber yard, where we tend to find woods we aren't able to collect otherwise, like walnut, ambrosia maple, cherry, and whatever else catches our eye. This wood has typically been trimmed from larger pieces of dimensional lumber and is kiln dried and ready to go.
All of our products are polished with heat treated walnut oil, which protects the wood and gives it a shiny, smooth finish. Sometimes we also add a good rub of beeswax.