Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nadolig Llawen!!!

Bookmark and ShareWith this last post of the year, I would like to thank everyone who takes the time to read this blog!  Thank you for your support and for enjoying the rather quirky tradition of lovespoons!
It's been a funny old year...some highs and a few lows, but lots of interesting lovespoons to carve and some really wonderful folks to carve them for!!
Although I can't show any of my most recent carvings until after Christmas, without risking the wrath of a few clients if I spoiled their surprises, I do have a really sweet Norwegian style anniversary spoon that was commissioned as a 50th anniversary present which I can show.

It's absolutely jam-packed with meaning and some wonderful symbols relating the family's history and was the result of a close collaboration with the clients.  THIS is the kind of thing I really enjoy about lovespoon carving...when I can work with my clients and fill the design with loads of symbolism which is important and relevant to them!   I've said it before, and I'll say it again...try to make a plasma tv or an 'out of the box' diamond ring do THAT!!

Here's what this spoon 'says':   A gift to their parents from 3 loving and devoted children, the spoon is crowned by an anchor symbolizing their father's love of the sea.  The anchor is linked to the handle of the spoon by 3 Norwegian style links, each engraved with each of the children's initials.  The last link joins the handle through a diamond (rather than as a symbol of monetary prosperity, the diamond is used here to symbolize the kind of wealth which comes from a close and loving family) on which a book is opened and engraved with the Mother and Father's names.  The Mum is a writer and the book symbolizes her passion.
Just below the diamond, the handle widens out to include a lovely 5 point flower with 5 hearts.  These represent the 5 decades of marriage, with the circular pattern representing the eternity of love (a circle having no beginning or end).
There are 8 grandchildren in the family and each one is represented by a flower in the little bouquet toward the bottom of the handle.  Flowers represent growth and renewal and are a lovely symbol for the idea of the growing family.
At the very bottom of the handle, a heart in two halves is united into a single heart to represent the idea of 'we two are as one'.
The spoon bowl is rather broader than is found on Welsh spoons, but is commonly found on Norwegian and Swedish spoons.  The spoon is carved from a lovely piece of birch which is the favoured wood for carving in Norway and which lends some 'authenticity' to the piece!

You really couldn't find a better representation of what lovespoons are all about than the idea of 3 generations of the same family being united for posterity in a beautiful lovespoon!   Beat THAT Mr. DeBeers!!!   Ha!!

I wish everyone a most joyous and festive Christmas and New Year and look I look forward to sharing more carving adventures in 2013.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lovespoons on a dark day

Bookmark and ShareAfter yet another massacre of beautiful little children in the USA, it's pretty hard to come here and post.   That kind of completely senseless and astonishing violence against society's most defenceless members makes it very hard to view the human race in any kind of positive light.  In fact, it's pretty tempting to write the whole world off as a seriously deranged gong show and go hide in the quiet calm of my little studio.
I don't know why some people do what they do and I really don't understand the big deal about guns and owning them...but that is because I am a lovespoon carver.  In my little world, people are happy, they're in love, they're proud of their families and they want to create something positive that they can share with others.   It is the very polar opposite of the darkness which descended on that little elementary school in Connecticut yesterday.
I feel sickened by what I read in the news about this catastrophe and I feel helpless against the mindless violence and evil which seems to infest so many hearts these days...but my way to fight back against the horror of Connecticut is to make beauty.
So here here is my little memorial of 27 lovespoons to all those precious lives lost yesterday.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lovespoons in Ohio

Bookmark and ShareI've just returned home from a short trip to Ohio where I had a number of excellent lovespoon related adventures!  After several years of email communication and a couple of shared efforts on the West Coast Eisteddfod lovespoons, Laura Jenkins Gorun and I finally managed to meet in person!  Not only that, Laura made the beautifully delicate lovespoon you see in the above photo for me and my wife!  Wow!  The spoon itself is carved from Buckeye wood (there is not a more appropriate wood for a lovespoon commemorating a visit to the Buckeye state than that!!!) and it features 2 elegant little rings which float along the handle at the bowl-end of the shaft.  As with all of Laura's spoons, it is delicate, beautiful, meticulously rendered and chock-full of symbolism and meaning...I'm absolutely thrilled to bits to be its new owner!!
While I was visiting Laura at her studio, she was just putting the finishing touches to the lovespoon.  Ensconced in her marvelous carving chair (which is much, much, much more practical and comfortable than the battered old wooden chair I use- note to self: get chair like Laura's!) Laura worked away at buffing up the already satin finish while we chatted about lovespoons, the Welsh in Ohio and where to get a really big hamburger in Columbus.  While she worked, I couldn't help but notice her Mayan blue fingernail polish which seemed to perfectly set off the very feminine and elegant design of the spoon!
But the lovespoon wasn't the only thing Laura had arranged for my visit.  She also set up an opportunity for me to speak to members of her Columbus Chippers carving group and some from the Welsh Society of Central Ohio about lovespoon tradition and history.   The room came complete with a podium, microphone and slide show screen...all very high-tech stuff for a guy who sits at a little wooden bench all day using hand-tools to make his pieces!   As you can see, I even wore a collar for the occasion!  A wonderful crowd of people turned out to hear me (and no doubt to puzzle over my novelty moustache- long story) and it was an absolute pleasure to meet other carvers, fellow Welshmen and folks who were interested by the lovespoon!!  Hopefully, I didn't get too carried away with the talking...once I get going about lovespoons, its sometimes hard to shut me back up again!

There was one more surprise for me at the end of the talk when fellow Welshman and lovespoon carver Chris Watkins came up to the front for a chat!  Chris and Laura have shown their spoons at various shows over the years, but I had only been able to communicate with Chris by email up until then.  Although I would have loved to have had a bit more time to talk about lovespoon history with Chris, I know that we'll be back to emailing fairly soon and I'm hoping that between us we can uncover more information on this centuries-old tradition!

Away from Columbus, I spent a lovely day with Jeanne Jones Jindra, the director of the Madog Centre (or 'Center' in American) for Welsh Studies in the small Southern Ohio town of Rio Grande.  While there, I presented her with a little spoon as a token of my appreciation for her generous and very kind hosting.  Jeanne showed me around some of the Welsh settlements of that area of Ohio and we had a nice visit to the little Welsh museum in the town of Oak Hill.   The Welsh have always seemed to be the forgotten Celts in North America...everyone knows the Irish and the it was fun for me to see a little museum dedicated to my lot for a change!!
I hope that one day soon I will be able to go back down to Ohio and do a bit more 'lovespooning' around the state, but until then, thank you to everyone who helped make my trip so very enjoyable!!