In June 2016 on a family holiday to Marrakech, my father and I went searching for the spoon carvers. Anyone who has visited Morocco before will be familiar with the traditional wooden spoon – they are sold on every street corner throughout the city. We just knew that somewhere there had to be a group of people waist-deep in woodshavings, making thousands of these Moroccan spoons.
We found them out in the mountains, in a small village where most of the industry is centred around the woodwork. In a cool barn at the end of the street we come across the spoon carvers. There are four carvers, who work in teams of two to carve 120 spoons a day between the pair of them.
There are two older men who have been carving spoons a long time, and also two younger men, close to my age at the time, in their late teens, who have only been doing this for a few years. They are all incredibly skilled, working sat on the floor with a range of razer sharp adze.
The adze are a very clever design, super simple to make and handle.
The spoons they are making are a traditional soup spoon, with some remarkable design similarities with a welsh style of soup spoon – the Cawl spoon.
Notice the round bowls and long, tapering handles attached to the underside of the bowl?
We arrived in the afternoon, after they had spend the morning doing the rough carving on their pile of spoons for the day, and were working on finishing. One of the carvers showed us how they did the rough work, sawing the piece of citrus wood in two to get two spoons out of it, and using a large adze to carve it down to shape. A slightly smaller adze is then used for some finer detailed carving, and to start hollowing out the inside shape of the spoon.
At this point they then switch to the afternoons work. One of the team uses a tiny adze with a pushing action along the handle of the spoon to smooth all the surfaces out, while the other uses a double-edged spoon knife to skillfully hollow the bowl out, clamping the spoon using the feet. This process takes under a minute!
And the finished spoon, alongside the other half of the piece of wood –
The spoons are then usually transported into the city where they are rasped and sanded to the finished spoons that can be bought across Marrakech, but we just LOVE the beautifully smooth tooled surface that the carvers leave, so we bought 50 of them straight from the pile to bring home with us. After taking 50 spoons from spoon mountain, it didn’t look at all different!