Alvaro Abreu


I am Brazilian. I was born in 1947 in Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, 350 km north from Rio de Janeiro. I am married, have 5 children and 7 grandchildren. I am a mechanical engineer, a specialist in technological development and a University professor. I am a partner in an industrial management consulting company. I was a competition swimmer, I write chronicles and I like to work with my hands.
The fun of making spoons started when I cut, with a pocket knife, a small piece of bamboo I had found on the balcony of a friend’s farm. Right there I discovered that its fibers are shown as lines, points or ellipses, depending on the angle of the cut.
As a child, in a town in Brazil’s countryside, I used to cut bamboo to make fishing rods, cages and kites. Since I was pretty more interested in the material’s flexibility and resistance, I had never noticed its fibers.
I always liked to work with my hands, but it was after a heart attack that I started to use them more intensively to cut, shave, sand and smooth bamboo in search of nice shapes that might please me.
Bamboo work was gaining space in my daily life, evolving from the condition of occupational therapy to that of an everyday, challenging and extremely pleasurable activity.
I imagine that in the past 25 years I have made almost 5,000 spoons. As I always respect each piece of bamboo and take advantage of its specific features, the most varied sizes and shapes come out.  I never intended one spoon to turn out like any other.
My challenge is to solve a very simple equation: to be able to make a spoon that I like from any piece of bamboo, using the tools available at the moment – always very simple, such as pocket knife, glass shards and sandpaper.
The task is very simple and it’s done in a progressive and cyclical way: to identify defects of any kind and try to eliminate them. The piece is ready when I can no more identify something that needs to be removed. Whatever the shape of it. Since there is no project or design to guide the work, I am always free from frustrations and failures.
I’ve learned that defects are less and less expressed, requiring the ability and willingness to try to identify them with eyes and fingers to deal with them. The spoon that emerges is the natural result of this intuitive process.
Over time I’ve discovered that much better than making a spoon, is to make one to give as a gift to someone who asks me or who deserves a treat.
It is good to know that I do not sell the pieces I make, and that I love showing them especially to those who are thrilled with spoons and who admire bamboo, like me.
Along the years, I have realized that spoons work as catalysts for very interesting people and also as generators of exciting events. In addition, it is already more than proven that they love to ride around the world. Beyond Brazil, Germany, Switzerland and Austria have already showcased my work, and the idea is to go to the UK and Netherlands very soon.It would be very pleasant to keep on presenting them elsewhere.
At it is possible to know a little more about the spoons, to know the work processes and the tools I use and, also, to check what I teach in workshops, spreading the passion for crafts and for bamboo..


by Alvaro

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