On the Association of Pole-lathe Turner’s forum there’s a thread where people can post pictures of spoons they’ve carved. Over the past 3 or 4 years, spooncarving seems to have exploded as a pastime which is a very good thing and this thread is becoming a rich resource. Every now and then I put up a photo to try and highlight something I’m interested in or that I hope might inspire. A year or so ago it was photos of batches of spoons and then big spoons/ ladles.
Last week I decided to put up a picture of this simple beech spoon. It’s about 20 cm long and designed as a spoon for stirring and cooking with a wide shallow bowl. Partly I chose it for the forum to highlight the beauty of beech, which often has a reputation as being a boring timber but also as a classic Swedish style spoon – the design is based on shapes I saw in the classic book ‘Swedish Carving Techniques’ by Wille Sundqvist.
The picture got some nice comments but the real interest came when I replied that ‘I was trying to get back to simplicity’. Robin Wood picked up on this and wrote a post for his greenwood carving blog with a list of inspirational quotes on the theme of simplicity. That in turn has reached more people who’ve commented on their own search for simplicity.
In my making I’m constantly thinking about simplicity; keeping the lines of a piece clean and clear, everything balanced and no more wood than is necessary – searching for the ‘essence’ of a spoon, if you will (or bowl, chair or whatever). The Shaker society of America who said “The chair is the decoration” is a big inspiration for me in this.
There’s a second story to this spoon which makes it extra special for me. I’d had a few disappointing shows, was low on cash (that’s not uncommon when you’re a maker) and was questioning my making. A friend suggested I carve a spoon for them with instructions to think of them and enjoy every moment while doing it. The result speaks for itself and now Christiane has the spoon in her kitchen where it gets regular use. It was a wonderful lesson for me and one I’ll continue to use while making some more of this simple spoon.
“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran