Studio Visit

Border Co. Hand Carved Spoons

Today we visit the Adelaide workshop of Justine Bolzon, where we discover the woodworker’s striking modernist-inspired hand carved spoons, created under her brand, Border Co.

Justine shares her insights on a GFC-hampered design career, overcoming creativity slumps, and experimenting with form over function.

Elle Murrell

Woodworker Justine Bolzon in her home studio. Photo – Mike Smith.

The part-time teacher, part-time woodworker creates under her Border Co, brand. Photo – Mike Smith.

The ‘spoon-carving enthusiast’ is born, raised and based in Adelaide.I think that we Adelaide makers are aware that there are only a few of us around, so we need to stick together and help one another out,’ she tells. Photo – Mike Smith.

Justine strives to create unique pieces, drawing inspiration from geometric forms and modernist design sensibilities. Photo – Mike Smith.

Justine’s workshop is her converted carport, which she has decked out bit-by-bit with the tools of her trade – though she does admit that the siren call of Netflix often  has her carving in the living room, at an amazing bench gifted by her Grandfather. Photo – Mike Smith.

The woodworker describes her early designs as very utilitarian, though she has become a lot more experimental with her forms. Photo – Mike Smith.

Justine’s sources her raw materials from salvage yards, and local timber merchants, as well as receives donations via Instagram! Photo – Mike Smith.

Elle Murrell
3rd of October 2017

‘Having quite a discerning eye, but very empty pockets’, woodworker Justine Bolzon created her first furniture pieces out of necessity, when she moved into her first rental home. Though they were small in scale, working on these pieces presented a challenge, as they required the large-scale machinery of the university workshop, where Justine was studying Interior Architecture at the time.

Discovering a box of old, chipped carving gouges one day provided the impetus for the curious creative to try her hand at wood working on a smaller scale. Justine soon taught herself a range of hand carving techniques, and created her very first cooking spoon (still in use today!). She has since developed a growing collection of striking, modernist-inspired hand carved spoon designs, under the name Border Co.

Justine graduated from her design-focussed degree the same year as the Global Financial Crisis, when work was scarce, encouraging the promising young creative to be pragmatic about her prospects. ‘I knew I wanted to be involved with designing and making, and decided to go back to uni to get my Masters in Education,’ she explains. ‘I focused on Design and Technology, and immediately felt at home in the workshop, finally bringing my ideas to life with tangible results.’

The now part-time teacher/part-time woodworker describes her early spoons as very utilitarian. However, after finding herself in creative slump last year, the maker pushed herself with a self-directed 30-spoons-in-30-days challenge. This more experimental approach completely revived Justine’s passion and creativity.  ‘I’m focusing more on what pushes my skills in a new direction, and I think that’s been the best decision I’ve made with my work,’ she tells. ‘People have responded really well to this, and I’ve been able to have more integrity with my work.’

Over the past year, Justine has also been running workshops, and many of her participants have been women eager to try woodwork for the first time. ‘A few have gone on to pursue carving as a passion or small business… so that’s pretty cool to see!’ Justine beams. She’s also got plans to expand her workshops interstate, to interact with a wider community of carving enthusiasts – we’ll keep you posted!

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