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Spoons, wooden spoons and spatulas

I have been making spoons since I was a child in Wales. My first one was for a spoon carving class in the local fair in Tregarron and I have no idea of what happened to it. After college I spent time living under canvas in a woodland and wanted to learn how to create everyday artefacts for daily living. Learning through trial and error, I made some beautiful spoons, which have gone the way of most wooden spoons back into the earth and atmosphere. Not all my spoons are good, I have made a fair few that may be functional but are not well made or designed, after all it is possible to eat with stick or chip of wood.

Spoons can be made with just a knife and hook knife or a carving gouge, a saw is also helpfull but not nessessary.

Some of the knives I use and would recommend both on quality and price are the Mora Frosts knives from Sweden.

164 single edge hook knife
120 short bladed carving knife and maybe a 160 which has a long narrow blade, not recommended for beginners
840, 860,740,760,780 which are good beginners bushcraft knives and very good for general woodcraft
S-1 and S-2 wooden handled carving knives.

The hook knives are OK but do not buy the double edged one. I have never got on with it. For quality hook knives you will have to buy them from craftsmen that make themselves and the price is usually £30 upwards but they are well worth it.

Good tools are fantastic, we can all put on our anoraks and talk for hours about the pros and cons of this or that tool. I started off with a Stanley knife and I have seen the most amazing work from some of the oddest looking tools ever. What is most important is the sharpness of the blade and the skill of the maker.

Spoon made from sycamore, carved at WOMAD festival during the mud fest of 2007

Some tools of the trade; hook knives 164 and a hook knife made by Ben Orford, knives; bushcraft and 120 frosts, and spoon.

Apple wood love spoon with one ball in the cage and a chain, this has been carved from one piece of wood.

Rattle with captive ball with 2 heads carved into it.

Love spoons designed and made by Sean Hellman.

  • Why so many people are now whittling spoon? I can only really talk from my own experience, and I have a number of theories.
  • The eco aspect, to make something yourself with the minimum of tools from natural materials.
  • You have bought your expensive Gransfor burk axe and spent even more on a bush craft knife and you want to use them.
  • A need to be self reliant, a need to create something in a society that hugely undervalues craftspeople, well manual workers.
  • To get in touch with, or to connect with our ancestors, by using similar tools, the same techniques, and materials. A link with the past.
  • To create a sacred tool, one that nurtures, well enables nurturing, ok putting food into your gob. The spoon can be also seen as a symbol, the bowl archetypally represents the womb or feminine principle and the handle represents the male principle, they are combined into one (unity) and used as a tool to feed ourselves with.
  • As a meditation.
  • To get rich and famous as a world renowned spoon maker, get real no one makes money from making things by hand.
  • To get a wife, this one worked for me. I met my wife after exhibiting at a friends Christmas show, she saw my spoons and wanted one carved in a certain design as a cake stirring spoon to be made from apple wood. She got in touch and we met in my workshop, I am sure my eyes were popping out and my tongue was on the floor. We met again a week later at a party and things just got better. Love blossomed and the spoon took a couple of years to be made, but she got it ibefore we married.
  • To learn the craft or art of using the most important tool ever, the knife. Give me a knife and I can live in comfort. Try living in the wilderness without a knife and see how long you survive!