I’ve been making and selling wooden spreaders for 10 years. They’re lovely things to use in the kitchen and a perfect carving project for learning knife techniques for spooncarving. On my spooncarving courses we make a spreader together on the first day to practise the different knife holds and learn about carving with the grain. Even for more advanced carvers they make an interesting project.
Like with so many things, spreaders seem so simple and yet I find loads of opportunity for experimentation and design. This batch were carved while I was away on holiday in Austria, a quick project to pick up and play with in between other things. It’s a scrap of wood split radially from a log and easily carved using powerful pushing cuts for the initial shaping and flattening then pulls and thumb pushes to finish and add detail.
Since they’re so quick it’s a chance to try out ideas and I enjoyed coming up with new shapes and then developing them. On a couple I used kolrosing and incised engraving to highlight an element or add decoration but I most enjoyed using the facets and bevels of the blade and handle themselves to decorate. Decoration is often seen as something that is added after the spreader or spoon carving is finished but I think the two need to be part of a whole; it shouldn’t be used to cover up or compensate for a poor shape while, for me, over-decoration detracts from and confuses the underlying form. In my work I focus on creating smooth curves, clean facets and bold bevels as the foundation of good carving to produce the best forms. These are my decoration which can then be enhanced by careful and conscious embellishments.