Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why It's So Cool To Live in Linköping: Part 3 - Kanevad Woodcarving

Sweden is known worldwide for high quality goods and services. When it comes to handicrafts, homemade specialties, unique and useful artisan products and simply top-notch, heart-invested items of all sorts, Sweden may have the world beat. During Christmas the “gifts-perfect-for-Mom” are simply in abundance…

In order to make the list of cool reasons to live in Linköping, the place has to be one that makes Linköping’s blue eyes light up, heads nod, conversation levels rise and provide an overwhelming general sense of hometown pride and fondness. Virtually synonymous with Gamla Linköping, the Old Town, is “the wood shop” or Kanevad Träsnideriet and the subject of the third part of the Linköpinglivin’ series on why Linköping is such a cool place to live.

Open since 1962, Kanevad is the kind of shop you wander into ignorant of the treasure you are about to discover. One look inside and Kanevad is a memorable part of any visit to Linköping. The sights of endless types heartfelt wooden creations and the smell of 30 different types of wood found throughout Sweden and beyond strike you immediately upon entry. And soon you become lost in a world of wood that leaves you speechless, sometimes laughing, often surprised and always in admiration of the artistic ability of Kanevad’s master woodcarver, Håkan Jansson.

In my tour of Kanevad with Håkan, I learned that he has been refining his trade for the last 30 years, working “at least” eight hours-per-day, always juggling various sets of orders from company logos to religious symbols to personal items to be displayed for weddings, in offices or for any other type of occasion or commemoration. Woodcarvings of the natural world, sports icons, Disney or Biblical scenes as well as everyday items such as cutlery, children’s toys or candleholders can be found throughout the shop for the person wandering through in awe of the creativity and ability of someone who loves his trade (or online:

As someone with very little artistic talent, and certainly no ability to carve wood without putting digits and limbs in serious jeopardy, observing Håkan at work was a sheer delight. “Pine” and “birch” and “aspen” and “elm” were all types of woods I had heard of, but seeing them all together with the array of colors and textures (along with 25 other types of wood from deep in the Swedish forest) gave me insight as to what it may have been like to witness Rembrandt’s palette.

Unfortunately, the era of globalization has even impacted Linköping’s favorite woodcarving shop. In the past several years, the number of orders from Kanevad has decreased rapidly due to China’s wood export business, which sells similar products for less money (along with dramatically lower quality and personal investment, of course). Linköpingsborna, kom tillbaka, eller upplev för första gången, den bästa butiken i vår stad!

Kanevad Träsnideriet, one more reason why Linköping is such a cool place to live.

1 comment:

Todd said...

Sean, while I know it's probably ordered already...I would say that a wood carved picture of you is NOT on my birthday gift list. Sorry.