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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!!
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  1. A: Glad to see you posting more frequently!
    B: Those are great spoons. I really like the combo of styles.

    How did you do the border on the far right spoon in the first photo? Karvsnitt or chip carve?

    I've only re-used the same design once, and that was because I wanted to compare painted vs. unpainted. Carving the same design time after time would be boring.


  2. Hi Bob
    Thanks for commenting! I've been having a lot of fun doing these 'old school' spoons! The spoon you ask about has been chip carved...it seems very common on a lot of the old Welsh spoons and turns up a fair bit on Swedish ones too. Very easy to do with a simple straight knife, so it would have been ideal for the young fellows back in the day who probably had very little in the way of carving tools!