Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nadolig Llawen Everyone!!
As another year draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the very best of the season. Nadolig Llawen (Merry Christmas) to all those who celebrate Christmas and best wishes to all those who don't.
I can't pretend it hasn't been a very tough year to be a lovespoon carver, with economies collapsing left and right, with massive foreclosures, 'rationalization' everywhere and everyone holding on to their pennies, it is as bad as I have ever seen it. Fortunately for me, there are still people out there who value a truly personal, entirely hand-made gift and know the real value of my lovespoons! To all those who commissioned one of my spoons, I send my sincerest thanks. To those who visited my blog and my site but couldn't order a spoon this year, I hope the next year is a better one and I get the chance to show you what I can do!!
To those of you who could care less about lovespoons, I send my deepest sympathies!
But thankfully, it hasn't all been doom and gloom! This year's West Coast Eisteddfod in Los Angeles was a great success and your generous donations to the 'Win the Lovespoon and Support the Eisteddfod' fund helped make the event the grand time it was! This year's design was embellished with artwork selected from Americymru member entries and really did make carving this year's spoon that extra bit special! Lucky prize winner Carey Dietrich went home with a beautiful artwork which I hope will bring her many, many years of pleasure! I think this is a great picture of her, and her most excellent tshirt sets the spoon off perfectly!!
I hope that next year's Eisteddfod is even bigger and better than this year's and I look forward to carving the lovespoon for it!
Once again, I wish one and all the very best for the remainder of this year and for the year to come!
Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 9, 2011

I recently received a couple of emails asking me to explain some of my strong feelings about lovespoon bowls. Those who have read my blog posts or my book "The Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons" will already know that I tend to get a bit evangelical about the lowly bowl and have very little time for the clumsy renderings of the commercial lovespoon industry.
For me, the bowl is a crucial element in the lovespoon's design and is one which needs to be handled with the same care and attention lavished on the handle. A quick look on virtually any giftshop lovespoon site will reveal a veritable ocean of horrible machine-made bowls all equally mundane and clunky (as illustrated above by some of these I have acquired over the years), none with any style or flow. Sadly, these have almost become the 'norm' for Welsh lovespoons as carvers all strive to knock off quick, cheap product that will be impulse purchased by souvenir hunters. And that is ok for the souvenir industry, but I think that carvers who make the real, hand-made deal should strive for much, much more. In the old days, the carvers lavished a great deal of time, skill and attention on the bowls of their spoons. Even the most rudimentary designs were invariably capped off with a lovely, elegant bowl. They knew (probably instinctively) that the bowl was the foil to the busy activity of the handle and it was made all the more profound by its quiet elegance.

I try to capture that traditional elegance with my spoon bowls and will often spend as much carving and finishing time on them as I do on the entire handle. It can be tiresome and tedious work getting the bowl nice and fair, but utimately (as shown by these examples) the effort is very much worth it! A sleek, well proportioned bowl which has been carefully worked is almost a work of art on its own.
The beautifully rendered bowl tells everyone who views the spoon that the carver cared! It says that no effort was spared and nothing was overlooked in the quest to 'do the job right'.
I believe that the bowl says as much about the carver as it does about the design. Like all good things in life, it is worth some pain for so much gain!

There is much beauty to be found in these simple forms and I urge you to both look for that beauty and demand it when you view, commission or make a lovespoon.
Here endeth the sermon!!!
Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 2, 2011

Back to the Future

I generally endeavour to carve spoons which push the technical and visual boundaries of lovespoon tradtion as far as I possibly can. I rarely repeat a design unless I think there is something new I can do with it and am not really very fond of the type of designs which appear on 'giftshop' lovespoon sites. A study of the old lovespoons found in the museum collections of Sweden, Norway, Wales etc., has lead me to realize that the souvenir lovespoon now equated with the 'traditional lovespoon' looks very little like its ancestors. For starters, almost every spoon I have viewed in a museum collection sports a very elegant and finely carved bowl. Comparing the bowls carved by lovestruck young men (whose simple tool kits were secondary to the intense passion and patience they applied to their work) with the chunky machined bowls produced in seconds by computer controlled cutters really is like comparing chalk and cheese.
The old spoons also have feeling!! Despite simple symbols and very basic carving techniques, the spoons have been emotionally decorated. There is passion in them which can never be matched by a machine made object. I know that one day computer controlled cutters will be evolved to the point where they can imitate even the little carver's mistakes and oddities that make old spoons jump to life,, BUT they will never be able to capture that je ne sais quoi which a handcarved lovespoon has in spades.

So I decided to go back to the past to inspire myself a bit for the future. These spoons aren't direct copies of any particular spoon, but they are amalgamations of themes which seem to work well together. Some are based on the Scandinavian lovespoon tradition and some on the Welsh. I think that revisiting the ancient spoons and re-familiarizing myself with where lovespoons came from will help me to chart a stronger course as I attempt to put my own personal spin on the tradition. Despite the fact that most of these spoons are pretty simple both in design and in the their technical requirements, they are lovely little spoons which I have become very fond of carving!!
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

  • The Marvellous Spoon Man

A couple of years back I received an email commission request from a gentleman named Norman Stevens.
Norman was collecting wooden 'teaspoons' crafted by North American and overseas spooncarvers and he had been given my name.
He commissioned a small lovespoon with only one restriction on the design...that it be a maximum of 9 inches in length.
I carved him a Celtic style spoon with a single small ball in the cage on the handle. The spoon was good fun to make with the ball in cage throwing out more challenges than I had expected. Overall the spoon looked great and I happily sent it off to him.
During the intervening years, I have kept in touch with Norman and have watched the collection explode from an early projection of around 150 carvers to somewhere in the region of 300!! With each passing year, the spoons Norman shows are more and more stunning...there seems to be no limits to the design and technical skills of the various carvers who have contributed to Norman's collection.
So beautiful are the spoons, that Norman now routinely shows them to admiring audiences throughout the USA.
As a spoon carver, I am delighted that collectors like Norman exist! Fine handcraft goes on all around us, yet gets precious little recognition. Museums and galleries seem scarcely interested in it and the art world definitely turns its nose up at its dust-covered blue-collar cousins. So it is a rare treat when someone like Norman takes the bull by the horns and expends a great deal of his personal resources to collect our work. I think one day, Norman's collection will be studied by future generations and as a snapshot of spooncarver's art at the beginning of the 21st Century and it will be invaluable to them.
In fact, it is already reaping benefits within the spooncarving community. Any carver who has seen pictures of Norman's collection cannot fail but be inspired by the work of his or her counterparts. Even over the few years Norman has been collecting, the quality of work being produced has improved dramatically.
Many of us have since been moved to carve second or third spoons for Norman as our own skills improve or as we get a bolt of inspiration we think Norman might appreciate.
For me, that inspiration has come in the form of the "Crashing Wave over a Tranquil Pool" spoon. Now usually I don't get too zen with my spoon names...preferring something like Wave spoon or Curved spoon...or something equally imaginative. But this spoon is a bit different. For a start it was inspired directly by Norman's collection and by the desire to contribute a really memorable design to it.
The second reason I feel I can be all artsy-fartsy with the name is that this spoon was a technical nightmare which took me to the brink. Thirdly, I called it this long-winded name
purely because I can and nobody can stop me...except maybe that little chubby cop with the pepperspray who shows up everywhere lately.
But joking aside, this was a very serious spoon which I hope will make a nice addition to Norman's collection and which will make an eloquent way for me to say thanks to him for being so supportive of the work we spoon carvers undertake.
Being a spoon carver is probably not the smartest career move a person can make. Let me correct that.... it is definitely not the smartest career move...but it is a career that is full of endless challenges and pleasures. Having these spoons in Norman's outstanding collection is certainly one of those pleasures for me!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The New Partner

I've got a new partner at David Western Lovespoons! Morris, the scruffy hound, has taken on an executive position as the company 'muscle'. Any clients of mine who forget to make prompt payment upon receiving their lovespoons can look forward to getting a knock at the door if Morris gets ticked off!
So far though, Morris has been limiting his apprentice activities to judiciously sniffing the carvings, licking the occasional bit of dust off the workbench and chewing the chisel handles when I'm not paying enough attention to him.
He's even taken a bit of a shine to lovespoon design and routinely joins me at the drafting table where he indulges his passions for eating my erasors, delicately nibbling on the corners of my drawing paper and satisfying his newly acquired taste for graphite pencils.
It is in the area of finishing that I truly expect him to shine though. He already displays exemplary skill finding the smoothest sections of the spoons and likes to help polish them for me by laying his generously fur covered body on them whenever possible. He is especially good at buffing out beeswax polishes with his tongue. Alas, sometimes his enthusiasm means there is very little wax left for polishing, but this is just inexperience showing and I am confident he will learn to exercise restraint as he gets more used to the work.
I'm proud to welcome Morris into the family business and I look forward to at least the next decade working together to bring our clients dramatic and wonderful handmade lovespoons!!
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

LA 2011 Eisteddfod Lovespoon Winner Announced!

Bookmark and Share 

The Winner - Carey Dietrich
We're thrilled to announce that Carey Dietrich is the winner of this year’s West Coast Eisteddfod lovespoon.  Although I didn’t manage to get down to LA for the event, I have heard that it was a great success which gets better and better each year.   

I would like to thank everyone who donated to the Eisteddfod for their kind generosity and hope that you will be back next year to help again.  I only wish that I could carve a thousand spoons, instead of just the one, so that everyone could win one.  But even if you didn’t win, please know that your donation will help the West Coast Eisteddfod to continue its growth.  It isn’t easy getting a cultural event off the ground in these tough economic times, so it is a great boon to have such great support! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Keeping a Welsh Tradition Alive in North America

love what I do!!     For quite a few years now I have been carving lovespoons professionally and I can say without any doubt whatsoever, it is the best job I've ever had!    Every morning when I glance at the news, I see death, destruction, hate, animosity, greed and corruption oozing from every corner of the globe, yet in my little world I am completely focussed on creating expressions of love and profound caring for clients who love one another.   Every day, my problems are centred on telling stories of love and passion through carved wood.  When my clients are thinking about their lovespoons, they forget about stock market fluctuations, religious wars or any of the other maladies which daily batter them and their fellow global citizens.  They enjoy an opportunity to think beautiful and romantic thoughts while we create an artwork which radiates all that is good about them and their loved ones.   Sure, the money is nothing to write home about (the expression 'Carvers are starvers' didn't come out of thin air) but the satisfaction and the sense of doing something really, really worthwhile in an increasingly negative world makes my career completely worth it!!   Even disastrous breaks and accidents while carving don't seem so bad when I'm carving a lovespoon!

One of the great 'side-effects' of my career as a lovespoon carver has been the opportunity to keep a centuries old tradition alive in North America.   This is the one of the main reasons I am so delighted to carve the annual lovespoon for the West Coast Eisteddfod.   Some traditions are worth keeping and I think that lovespoon carving and the cultural traditions represented by the Eisteddfod are plum examples of those.   However, neither lovespoon carving or staging Eisteddfods are easy to do in our modern, tech oriented society without having a lot of support.   In my case, I am subject to all the vagaries of any business, but in the case of the Eisteddfod, it can only survive and grow with active participation.   Whether you enter some of the competitions, attend the events, donate some funds or simply tell your friends, family and acquaintances about it, I urge you to help keep the Eisteddfod going.   

I have donated my Eisteddfod lovespoon for you to win.  All you have to do is send in a dollar or two (although more is always gladly received!!) and you will be entered for the draw prize.   Each dollar you donate equals one opportunity to win (so if you are Warren Buffet, you could be in with a pretty good chance)!!
So once again, here is a look at the spoon and I hope it will inspire you to hit the donate button!!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 West Coast Eisteddfod Lovespoon Complete!!!!!


2011 West Coast Eisteddfod Lovespoon
Front View ( click to enlarge image )

The 2011 Eisteddfod Lovespoon is finally done!   I am just applying a few coats of oil to bring up the colouration and to protect it from the elements a bit and then it will be ready to go!   I'm really pleased with how it has turned out...the wood has a soft amber tone with flecks of colour from the spalting which give it some real liveliness.  The design worked out as I had hoped it would with the dragon being dominant, but not overwhelming (or cliche).  I'm also delighted with how the contest designs worked out.  They are all very eye-catching and relevant....I'm glad I didn't have to decide which ones went on there though, there were a lot of really good ideas!   I think my favourite part of this year's spoon is the look of the knotwork.  I'm very pleased with how soft and 'organic' the birch makes the knots look; they are very touchable!!!   I think this year's spoon is a very unique design which will go very nicely on some lucky donor's wall!!!

2011 West Coast Eisteddfod Lovespoon
Back View ( click to enlarge image )
This year I included L.C.E. 2011 on the back surface of the design...even though I know the official name of the event is the West Coast Eisteddfod, the seditious side of my nature couldn't help itself, and I reached back to the event's original moniker, The Left Coast Eisteddfod-- cheeky yes, but who is going to stop me??)  I thought we should commemorate the event in a way which was both noticeable AND unobtrusive (with contradictory ideas like THAT, I should have been a politician!!) so I figured some thin lettering along the back of the spoon would be the way to do it!   With the knotwork carved as thoroughly on the back as it is on the front, the spoon will cast some nice viewing shadows when hung on display and the shadows will help to give the knotwork even more depth!

This spoon represents a great deal of thought, time and effort and I hope that you are as pleased with the results as I am.   The whole purpose of carving the spoon has been, and continues to be, to raise funds which will be used to stage our Eisteddfod.   It is my hope that you agree the West Coast Eisteddfod is a great idea worthy of your support and that you will consider donating a dollar or two even if you don't think you'll be able to attend. Every dollar you donate equals a chance to win this spoon and I thank you in advance for your kind donations!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why the Eisteddfod?

I've been carving spoons for a couple of decades now and although it is definitely not a way to get rich (or modestly affluent or even to reach the status of 'working poor') it IS soul satisfying work.

I love what I do and I feel extremely fortunate to play my part in a 350 year old tradition each and every day.

When I first started carving professionally and was struggling to be recognized, I would donate spoons to charitable causes hoping that I could generate some interest in my art and generate future orders.

Sadly, it seldom ever worked out that way, so I decided I would never again donate or give my spoons away.

Then I stumbled across Americymru and their far-fetched scheme to start an Eisteddfod in North America. I was pretty convinced that the idea would never get off the ground and it would receive little in the way of interest and support from the public. In short, I thought it would be a complete disaster. I wrote to Gaabi and Ceri to inquire about their plans for the Eisteddfod and before I knew it, found myself swept up in their enthusiasm.

They were desperate for financial support but having nothing much in the way of cash to send them, I volunteered to carve an Eisteddfod spoon which they could auction off to help raise funds for the event.

There were a couple of excellent reasons why I went back on my 'no donations' rule to support the Eisteddfod. First and foremost, I love the idea of a Welsh event of this nature happening in North America and wanted be involved in helping it happen. As important, I wanted to link the lovespoon to the Eisteddfod because I believe the lovespoon is a Welsh icon of great (but largely misunderstood) cultural significance. Although the lovespoon may, at first glance, lack the sexiness of Catherine Zita Jones, the drama of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor belting the daylights out of each other or the mellifluous sweetness of Cerys Matthews in full throat...when done right, a lovespoon contains all that marvelous Welsh passion and more!


Presenting REAL lovespoons to the Eisteddfod audience gives me a chance to illustrate what these little wooden wonders are all about!!

Finally, I hope that auctioning my lovespoons will help to give a financial boost to a fledgling cultural event, so I am not at all ashamed begging you to donate to the Eisteddfod and do your best to win the completed West Coast Eisteddfod Lovespoon Mark III!!!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Here Be Dragons Mark III

I've been beavering away on the sections of the Americymru spoon which our prize winning design ideas are to fill.   Everything went very well and the front face of the spoon is almost completed!   A bit of tweaking and some judicious shaving here-and-there is all that is required now!

I'm more than pleased with the beautiful grain and colourful figure of the birch used for this year's spoon.  It is gorgeous stuff!!   Like last year's spoon, the carving has gone very well and the wood seems to handle all the various design ideas without getting crumbly or cracking.  I think it will be a lovely spoon when it is done!

I really sweated about carving Laura's Daffodil design...both because we worked together on last year's spoon and I know how elegant and delicate she makes her flowers and because I decided not to fret cut through the design.  Usually Laura's flowers have their surroundings cut away so that they can stand proud without the weight of the background pulling them down.  This year I didn't do that, so there was pressure on me to get the flowers nice and light and not have the background become too obtrusive.  Hopefully, I've done it right and Laura will be happy with it.... otherwise it is back to the drawing board for me!!!   I positioned the Daffs design at the foot of the dragon's body so as to make a symbolic link with the ground.   I also thought the earth makes the right metaphor for growth and that is what our Eisteddfods have been all about over these last 3 years!!

The Harp design came out very well too!   The harp seems nice and full and stands out clearly from the background with the text bringing some action to the big space on the right side of the circle.   I think this design will certainly illustrate the importance of music both to the Eisteddfod and to the Welsh people.  It's location at the Dragon's heart is also critical with the metaphor a simple and fairly obvious one!

The Awen was another design I sweated over a bit.  I was tempted to fret cut it out to really make it bold, but in the end I decided to stay with a very simple and elegant low relief carving.   Because of its ethereal nature, I felt it was ideally suited for the wing area of the dragon as it would have an association with flight and with other-worldliness (is that a is now).

The Dragon's head is nicely set off with this lovely little piece of abalone inlay.  (In case I am about to take a hammering from the environmental crowd for using abalone, I cut this particular piece from an old ashtray I found at the Salvation Army Store a few years back.  It seemed a shame for something so beautiful to be used for that purpose, so I have recycled, using it in dozens of spoons over the years.....besides, I don't even eat seafood!!!)  The figure of the wood perfectly accentuates both the body and the back scales of our dragon and brings some extra zip to the Celtic knotwork....niiiice!!

So there it is so far!   I hope that now you can see it is, indeed, coming along, you will be inspired to donate a few bucks to the Eisteddfod for your chance to win it!!   Someone will be taking it home after the Eisteddfod (and no, you don't have to be present to win) so enter now and enter often!!!

Your donation (whether exceedingly generous or very close to the bone) will be used to make our Eisteddfod better and better!!  Help hoist the Driag Goch amidst the sea of tartan and shamrocks that is Celtic North America!!!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

West Coast Eisteddfod L.A. Lovespoon 2011 - And The Winners Are......

Bookmark and Share

After due deliberation David is pleased to announce the winners of the design element competition for this years West Coast Eisteddfod Lovespoon . The finished piece which will be on display at the event at the Barnsdall Art Center between September 23rd and 25th, incorporates three design elements which were selected by popular suggestion and vote both here and on the AmeriCymru website . From an initial list of about 30 suggestions the final slate was whittled down to just five contenders. Here are the three winners:-

3. Cerdd:  The harp is seen as the symbol of Welsh music (Cerdd is the word for music in Welsh). The Welsh are renowned for their musicality and music is always an important part of the Eisteddfod experience.

2. The Awen:   Awen is a Welsh word for "(poetic) inspiration". Used historically to describe the poetic inspiration of the bards, it is a beautifully apt and very stylish symbol for an Eisteddfod spoon!

1. This lovely design by Laura Gorun includes the ever popular Welsh Daffodils and leeks. These iconic symbols of Wales are always a beautiful addition to any lovespoon design!

The Harp design won outright with 24.36% of the vote whilst the Daffodils and Awen both tied for second place with 21.79%. The winners each of whom will receive a copy of David's book, "The Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons" are:-

  1. Jennifer Brodeur
  2. Brian Y Tarw Lwyd
  3. Laura Gorun 

Many thanks to all who contributed designs and/or voted in the competition. We will present the first two named winners with their prizes at the West Coast Eisteddfod in September and Laura's copy will be mailed.

Please don't forget that the principal purpose of all this is to raise funds for this years event. So if you have a few ( or many ) dollars to spare please consider buying a few tickets for the grand prize draw which will take place at the Eisteddfod. You can enter the prize draw via the 'Donate' button in the right hand column on David Western's Lovespoon Blog or in the left hand column on

Bookmark this blog for further developments and to follow the creation of this unique work of art.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Voting Ends Midnight Tonight!

Tonight marks the end of our vote to pick the winning design elements for this year's West Coast Eisteddfod Lovespoon - see them in my last blog post here -

Vote and let us know which three of this designs should be included in this year's spoon!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Time To Go to the Polls

As Canadians head to the polls to elect a new government, I thought this would be a perfect time for a vote on which three of the following 5 carefully selected choices will be the ones to use on the West Coast Eisteddfod 2011 Lovespoon. Vote early and vote often...just kidding about the often...but do vote which designs you'd like included on the finished spoon.

We had loads of suggestions to choose from and have gone with the following designs. We're keeping the names hidden until the voting is over so that there can be no claims of favouritism and no vote rigging etc.. Many of the ideas we received were in text form, so I have interpreted them as best I could.

1. This lovely design includes the ever popular Welsh Daffodils and leeks. These iconic symbols of Wales are always a beautiful addition to any lovespoon design!

2. The Awen:   Awen is a Welsh word for "(poetic) inspiration". Used historically to describe the poetic inspiration of the bards, it is a beautifully apt and very stylish symbol for an Eisteddfod spoon!

3. Cerdd:  The harp is seen as the symbol of Welsh music (Cerdd is the word for music in Welsh). The Welsh are renowned for their musicality and music is always an important part of the Eisteddfod experience.

4. Gair (Use the picture of the book and pen) Gair (the Welsh word for 'word') is symbolized by a book and quill. As fluid and sonorous with their language as they are with their singing, Welsh literature is a vital component of Eisteddfod competitioin.

5. Celf:   To represent Celf (the Welsh word for art) I have used an old fashioned movie camera and a Hollywood Star. Because this year's Eisteddfod is happening in Los Angeles, the movie industry seemed the perfect representative for the arts community as it relates to the Eisteddfod.

So there you go!!! Pick the 3 you like best and we'll see which ones wind up on the spoon!!

And in case you have forgotten what the spoon looks like, here it is roughed out but with the three circular areas left untouched. I'm excited to see which designs will be selected and even more excited to carve them onto the spoon! Every year the West Coast Eisteddfod gets better and better and it is my fervent hope that the spoons we carve for it get better too.

Please remember you can win this spoon!! Everyone who donates to the Eisteddfod gets a chance to win...each dollar equals one chance, so the more you donate, the better your odds!

Bookmark and Share