Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wooden Spoons & Zen

This space is making a change.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a spoon makers vacation. I was lucky to spend most of week with one of the best spoon makers in America and a great teacher, Barry Gordon.
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We worked in his shop and talk about design, technique and materials.
Here Barry is pictured roughing out a Buckthorn spoon. He has developed a notion of using the band saw as a carving implement. Barry uses a highly tuning the band saw with a few custom features. He uses special blades with high beam strength and frequently applies a wax lubricant to the blades. He has optimized his dust collection with custom shrouds under the table. He has filled in the miter slot and made a UHDP insert for the throat. A link belt and a custom study base that together all but eliminate any vibration. Extra lighting and a slow steady hand and a “roughed out” spoon is closer to its final shape.
Barry and his wife Barb, were gracious hosts and shared there home and dinner table with me. The conversation was delightful.
Now we’ll have to see if I absorbed anything.
Later in the week Barb, Barry and I drove the 300 miles or so to the American Association of Woodturners national convention in Hartford CT. We had some of the best pizza ever at a little place call Joe’s Pizza just outside Hartford. 
The main reason for the trip to Hartford was to see and meet Norman Stevens the wooden spoon collector and see his “Gathering of Spoons”  (PDF of catalog) exhibition.
Norman Stevens is a retired university librarian who has a long history of collecting and supporting spoon makers. His latest project, the recently renamed “A Gathering of Spoons”, is a collection of spoons by makers mostly but not exclusively from America. It was a real treat the see and hold spoons by Jogge and Wille Sundqvist. See so many spoons by so many makers all in one spot was inspiring. Below is a series of images I took original thinking I’d create a panoramic of the collection but I think it would be better to just publish them and try later to make a panorama.


  1. Wow, Will, that must have been something to see them all laid out like that. So many different shapes and colors. And what a treat to be able to pick them up and examine them. Thanks for posting the photos!

  2. Kari, an important aspect of a quality spoon is how it feels in the hand. Some of the spoons in Norman's collection had other characteristics besides balance and "hand comfort" that made them collectible. As you can see by the display, there were spoons with varying qualities.

    My tastes run towards the utilitarian but I'm glad Norman's doesn't otherwise we would be able see such a diverse collection of spoons.

  3. It is amazing how much creativity can go into an ordinary every day object like a spoon and yet artists can turn any thing into a more creative and beautiful art form.

  4. Donna, as you know, melding art and everyday objects is a natural out-growth of a practice of focused inward contemplation. A connection to the 'flow' as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it. I sense this same connection to the stream of creativity when viewing your collages.

    I am but a clumsy beginner. My goal is to imbue my spoons with 'flow'. We'll see where this goes.

    Thanks for visiting and your comment.