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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!!!
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1 comment:

  1. Well said, Dave! I've recently been looking at photos of spoons in the Nordiska Museet collection, and I've found that even the simplest spoons have well executed, graceful and elegant bowls. It's easy to see that the carvers spent actually more time on the bowl than they did the handle. Comparing them to the souvenir love spoons you talk about makes it glaringly apparent that a clunky bowl is the death of a design no matter how well done the handle. At least in my humble, unsophisticated opinion. :)

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