Well, if you ask me, one of the things wrong with the world today is spoons. Look at this wretched specimen that my wife got in a Xmas swap. I was loathe to bring it home, except I knew I could blather about how bad it is, and how it demeans all life around it. I showed it to my friend Bryan MacIntyre, and said I couldn’t imagine how it could be worse. “It could be pine” he said. True. But, this spoon is just horrible; even at a dollar it’s not worth it, because then it’s making your life uglier every day you have to look at it.
Notice the nice bevel they sanded into the underside of the bowl, makes me want to scream. I’m going to give it to the kids to fling sticks into the river with…maybe it will float away one day. At least it’s biodegradable.
I just finished reading Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell. So I was primed to find connections between this spoon and the decline of civilization. I think the book is preaching to the choir, but I enjoyed it a lot. There’s a whole chapter about IKEA.
Here’s a nice spoon worth having; by Dan Dustin of New Hampshire. Dustin has made spoons for about 30 years or so. He’s a real master of the craft. I bought it for $40 about 6 years ago, and another one the year before that…my brother-in-law thought I had lost my mind, paying that for a wooden spoon. But he had never seen hand-made spoons before, I guess. This spoon is small, but for stirring, serving, etc. I think the wood is mountain laurel.
I learned spoon carving from Jogge Sundqvist at Drew Langsner’s Country Workshops, back in 1988. I also got to take a week-long class with Jogge’s father Wille in the early 1990s; Wille taught CW’s first course in 1978. Now Jogge is returning this year once again. http://countryworkshops.org/sloyd.html
I signed up as quickly as I could, and apparently so did others, it’s been full for a while. This year I want to try to learn more about making large cooking spoons. I have done eating spoons a lot now & then, and I feel pretty comfortable with them; but large ones are challenging. This photo shows one of my everyday eating spoons, in apple at the bottom. It’s about 20 years old. Also some spoons underway in cherry, aiming for larger ones for the kitchen.
Drew teaches classes in this spoon carving frequently. http://countryworkshops.org/Carving.html
I just checked tonight and his winter classes are full, but keep it in mind. He has written about spoon carving many times; he has some photos of Wille posted on Country Workshops newsletter; showing the various “grasps” that Wille uses to shape the spoons. These are tricky; in the photos you can’t see the slicing action that Wille is expert at… http://www.countryworkshops.org/newsletter11/wille.html
Here’s a link to part 3 of an article Drew did last year. It should connect you to parts 1 & 2 also. Down the bottom of the page.
And here’s a spoon by the master, Wille, and the other master, Jogge. I photographed them at Country Workshops last summer.
Jogge is something else in his own right. He did a video on carving spoons and bowls for Taunton press in 1988, if you can find it, watch it. Hatchet, adze, and knife work that is inspiring. He has a website, showcasing many aspects of his handicrafts… it’s another world! http://www.surolle.se/
There’s also a growing spoon movement in the UK, see the Bodgers’ forum http://www.bodgers.org.uk/bb/phpBB2/ and Robin & Nicola Wood’s work http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/spoon-carving.htm and back in the States Del Stubbs is also spoon-mad. He makes great tools for the craft, and his website has umpteen million pictures. http://www.pinewoodforge.com/
But enough about what spoons should be…I have revolution on my mind. Anyone who has listened to me too much is already sick of me harping about Bill Coperthwaite’s book A Handmade Life (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2003, paperback 2007). I’m wild about this book. Bill has a great philosophy about the importance of what we surround ourselves with…and his surroundings are pretty nice. He introduced Wille Sundqvist and the Langsners many years ago, and that started Country Workshops, and that’s where I got my start at crafts…
So, here’s the call. Start (or re-start) the handmade revolution now. Go throw out just one wretched wooden spoon, (burn it, throw it in the ocean, anything but give it away. That just creates a problem for someone else.) Then take a stab at making some nice handmade ones. We can start there…then we can deal with the baskets. They make the spoon problem look manageable…the cheap ones everywhere are even worse than the spoon that started this…
So, here’s my spoon-carving kit, in a white oak basket I made in 1998…