A World of Spoons!Despite all the forecasts of yet another year of economic doom and gloom, my year got off to an excellent start when renowned spoon collector Norman Stevens sent me a box of spoons from his extensive collection for me to study. I've never been fortunate enough to see a Norwegian wedding spoon or a Swiss creme spoon 'in person' before, so the opportunity to handle some of these remarkable pieces has been very inspiring!
Several of the spoons in the above picture date from the early part of the 1900's which makes them even more valuable to me as they are links between the hand-craft world of yesteryear and our more machine based modern era. Their elegant, efficient craftsmanship has given me a bit of a schooling in how things were done in the old days and shows me how beautiful the workmanship of many old pieces really was.
The really good news for me among these spoons is the high quality craftsmanship of some of the most recent pieces. A Romanian spoon dated 1999 and a Russian spoon from the latter half of the 20th Century both display exquisite workmanship and design showing clearly that excellent craft is both possible and desired in our busy, ultra-modern world!!
The bad news was the appallingly poor quality Welsh lovespoon (of the 'gift shop' variety) which I could not force myself to include in the above photo!! For me, as a Welsh-born carver, it was simply too embarrassing to show! Honestly, I could have cried when I saw it beside all these elegant and lovely European spoons. Although I understand the commercial gift industry's desire to crank these horrors out at their impossibly low price point to capture the 'impulse purchase' market AND I agree with the arguement that they keep the lovespoon in the public eye; I can't help but feel they are doing the lovespoon a colossal disservice!
Especially in Wales, but also among tourist visitors, there is a growing perception that the clunky, soulless, style-less, dark-stained monstrosities that are being pumped out of factories from Canton, Cardiff to Canton, China are what lovespoons represent and what they should look like. This notion makes me weep!!!!
The spoons I have shown in the above picture are what it IS about...and many of them aren't even 'lovespoons'!!
These spoons are all made with caring, passion, patience and craftsmanship. They are elegant, beautiful and cry out to be handled!! In short, they are lovely... and THAT is the example I always wish to follow when I carve my own lovespoons!!
For those interested, here is the listing for the spoons shown above:
Top left: Swedish spoon with ball in cage circa 1900
Top right: Swiss cream spoon with fretted bird figure on handle circa mid 20th C (?)
Lower extreme left: double bowl Norwegian wedding spoon circa late 1800's to mid 1900's
Middle left: Russian spoon with double horse head crown and chip carving circa 21st C
Middle: Chip carved Romanian spoon carved in 1999
Middle right: Swiss tourist spoon with high relief foliage carving circa 1900
Extreme right: Painted high relief Norwegian spoon circa 1900 (?)