The most inspirational spoon of 2014

I want to share a spoon with you. I’m not calling it the best spoon of the year, but it is by a long shot the most inspirational spoon. It’s made by a lovely Swedish chap called Olov. He’s not a spoon carver. He’s a shepherd. He simply spends his evenings carving away the time. And makes some of the most beautiful spoons I’ve ever seen.
I was lucky enough to meet him this summer when he came over to visit Spoonfest. He put a few of his spoons out in the spoonshop for people to buy and I saw this spoon and fell in love. At a glance it’s incredibly plain and simple and doesn’t jump out at all, especially next to his selection of wonderful earthy painted spoons. But as I was rummaging through them all and giving them a good fondle, I noticed what makes it quite so special.

Chipcarving. On the reverse of the spoon! There’s a lot of chip carving around in the spoon world at the minute, and most of it doesn’t take my fancy. It can be excessively elaborate and confuse the eye to the shapes of the spoon. But not this chip carving. This blends beautifully and acts as just a little accent to the lovely crisp edges of the spoon. And it’s hidden away on the back. With the front holding Olov’s makers mark.

It’s like a spoon turned upside down. It’s not showy, it’s subtle and clever and elegant and everything I want in a spoon. This is what chip carving should be. And it’s now become a firm favourite breakfast spoon.

Reclaiming the Lovespoon

Most of you will have heard of the Welsh love spoon. You may have seen modern love spoons – racks and racks of them hung up on walls in gift shops. Bandsawn and sanded. They weren’t always like that.

Once upon a time, at the very beginning of the tradition, they were very different things. The really early ones, and in my opinion the most beautiful ones, were functional spoons. As they developed they got more complicated, but up until very recently they were always hand made. And that’s what the real tradition is about. Not the symbolisms of all the different fancy twiddly bits. The fact that it’s made by hand specifically for a loved one.

I made this spoon for my partner last christmas. It’s not fancy. But it’s made with love. It’s a symbol and a meaning. It’s functional, so every time he eats his breakfast or his dinner with it he can be reminded how much I care about him.

love spoon

This christmas lets reclaim the love spoon. Make somebody you care about a spoon. Make it with thoughts of love in your head and heart. Spend your carving time thinking about them using it. Make it special. The meaning isn’t in the decoration, it’s in the time and the effort and the care.

Inspirations and painted spoons

Paint seems to be all the rage at the moment. And I’ve been so very inspired by a couple of people’s work and really quite fancying having a go myself for quite some time. So at last I have taken the plunge…

First let me talk about my inspirations for a bit. To start with, a swedish chap with exceptional facial hair, Magnus Sundelin. His combination of chip carving and paintwork on his fantastically carved spoons and shrink pots is amazing. The bold contrast, and the rich colours…

Who am I kidding. I just love the shiny gold paint..

The other stuff is amazing. I would love to own it. But as far as personal inspiration goes, ever since seeing his stuff, I’ve been dying to make all my things shiny and gold.

That spoon on the right there? I dithered terribly about contacting Magnus and seeing if it were available for weeks. I still regret that I didn’t. But perhaps it’s a good thing I never held it in my hands. As I talked about in a previous blog post, sometimes the idea is better than reality. This way it’s been stuck in my head for months now, and it’s coming out in my own work.
My next inspiration is the wonderful, amazing Anja Sundberg. Another Swede. She claims to not be a spooncarver. And yet her spoons are among the best in the world. I love her bold, elegant but fun shapes. This first picture has been stuck in the front of my sketchbook for aaaages now.
I own one of Anja’s spoons now – lucky me! – and one of the most inspiring things has got to be how well they work, as well as how beautiful they look. The combination of the two to such amazing levels is brilliant.

This second picture is a bit more of an unusual one. Anja’s tools. This painting is something she does a fair bit. That graduating colours. Fading from dark to light. And again with the mixture of chipcarving and paint.

When there are people who are this good in the world, it makes it somewhat difficult to start. Why bother, when these people have already mastered what I wish I could do, and to such high levels too!

Well I finally gave it a go. After the success of this spoon I felt I had to try some more. A little experiment on one of my oiled spoons first, to get my head in the game and warm my fingers up..

And then onto paint!!

Harder than I had anticipated. And I can’t wait to try out some more different kinds of paint. I have no idea how Magnus makes his gold so shiny, or how Anja blends her colours so evenly. But practise makes perfect. And I am very happy with how I’m starting out. What do you reckon? Have you a favourite yet? Let me know what you think!!

A sexy new leather knife sheath

So while I was away in America, I got a message from my lovely other half. “I’m getting you a present” I was told, “it’s black and leather and will make you look super sexy.”

Best. Present. Ever.

It’s made by a lovely lady who I am now very keen to meet, Ruth Pullan. I highly recommend checking her stuff out, it’s beautiful. Such an amazing slick sense of style, and the craftwork is spectacular. I’ve dabbled in a little leatherworking in my time, and for anyone else who has I’m sure you’ll appreciate all the more her spotless seams and immaculate stitching. And the leather is simply divine!! Combined with the white of the stitches and the creamy natural edge..

Ahem. I’ll maybe rein my gushing in now!

For a sense of scale, that’s a mora 106 in it. And wowee what a lucky knife.

Rather than a traditional belt loop, it’s got a little loop fastened with a popper. So I can clip it to anything and not just a belt. Useful for those of us who rarely wear belts!

And now my woodworking knife shall travel everywhere with me, in outstanding style.


Subtitled: I like this spoon SO much, I might give it to myself!

Or maybe even: an ode to a spoon.

Since taking these photos, numerous blog posts have written themselves in my head, pondering different things I could talk about. Ultimately they have all been discarded – or stashed for a later date. Because what I really want to do is show this spoon off to the world, and share with you all its subtle beauties.

It’s a first for me – chipcarving. Carved engraving. Whatever you want to call it. Something I’ve never quite plucked up the courage to do before. But this spoon deserved it. What beautiful flowing lines and wonderfully balanced form! Just asking for that little something extra.

This spoon is one of my best yet.

Adventures in America

So you may have noticed a slight absence in my posting the last few weeks.. those of you following my father’s blog will know the reason for this, but for the rest of you – I’ve been travelling across the seas! Three long weeks staying with Jarrod Stonedahl in America. My first time over there! And wow what an experience.

I’m just starting to catch up on the sleep deprivation and sort through all the many pictures, and am very excited to share all of the adventures I’ve had with you, but for now, a few pictures and a couple of words to whet your appetites!

I’ve been just about keeping up with my 10 spoons a week, although as Jarrod pointed out it’s becoming a bit more of a forget about them all week and then hastily carve 10 spoons over the weekend….

Spoons finished while visiting North House Folk School
Carved at the Spoon Gathering, Milan!
And the last week, photographed on the building bed,
carved while finishing our birch bark canoe.
The Spoon Gathering, featuring ‘spoon club’, something
spoonfest attendees will know all about..!
‘yoghurt testing’, thinking about the intricacies of spoon design
Last but not least, our beautiful birch bark canoe, the main
objective of our trip, in her full glory,

And finally, keep your eyes open, I’ve created a new page where this beautiful pile of spoons will soon be starting to appear for your perusal..

Designing a Spoon

A look into my design process
Part 1?
When you’re is looking to making lots of spoons, it is inevitable that eventually you’re drawn towards narrowing down on specific designs. The reasons for this being twofold. Firstly because if you know a spoon inside out and exactly what cuts it take you to find that spoon inside your piece of tree it becomes immensely faster. The second being because it gives you the chance to refine your design. To iron out all the wrinkles and make it awesome for using and looking at.
At the moment I’m going through that process. Getting back into the spoon game. Trying to get my speed up and find my ultimate spoon.
I started by carving a bunch of spoons. Without much particular thought. Quite a slow process, because I’m not sure where I’m going. Just exploring.

Then I ask myself, which are my favourites? Which could I see myself carving over and over again, searching for spoon perfection?
The answer has already presented itself to me. One of my patterns has begun to repeat itself. What do I do now? I repeat it some more.

These three quickly joined the first. I allow some minor differentiation, not completely rigid in carving the same things every time. Then I can put them together and ask myself again – which is my favourite? Which one immediately jumps out at me? And why is that? What is it that I like about it which I should replicate?

At this point I often ask advice from any spoony friends or relatives as well. I’ll hand them all to them and ask them to pick a favourite. And tell me why.

The one in the middle jumped out at me this time. It took a while to work out why, but eventually I narrowed it down to the slight concave in the curves down the handle, and the not overly thin neck, plus the slightly wider top.

These next few haven’t dried or been oiled yet. I suspect they shall reveal more about themselves when they have been. For now I am happy to carry on. They’re consistently pretty good. If I carry on a way longer another spoon might leap out from the bunch and let me know where to develop – or avoid! -next.

These couple were from a bit of slightly shorter tree which didn’t quite want to end up as the others. So they deviated. I quite like them. Maybe some more might happen the same.

And last but not least, one thing that has jumped out at me about the latest batch, a steeper ‘kick’ at the end of the handle, inspired somewhat by Owen Thomasdolphin spoons, is emerging and feels rather nice to the hand. Another one to be explored..

I would love to see the rest of you go out there and develop some beautiful designs of your own, perhaps taking bits of influence from here and there, but ultimately developing something you can truly call your own. And maybe my words will have been of some use. I hope so. Let me know how it goes!

And maybe there’ll be more posts along these lines before too long, as my designs develop even further..

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