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!!
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