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Sunday, February 18, 2018

What a difference a week makes!

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Last Saturday I was pretty shocked when the following notice appeared on my Facebook feed.  Apparently, a TV cook named Brian Turner had thrown a Welsh lovespoon into the fire on James Martin's Saturday Morning Show on ITV Britain.  I was pretty appalled, so after making sure the story was true, contacted ITV to voice my displeasure.

In fairness to to the good folks at ITV, they were quick to reply.  Unfortunately, their view of it all was that it was just match day 'jokey' humour (England were playing Wales that day in rugby) and nothing to be taken too seriously.  Nice for them, but that didn't make his actions any less disturbing to someone who is both Welsh AND a lovespoon carver.  Watching a cultural icon being treated with such cavalier disrespect was pretty disheartening and demoralizing.  I've spent over half my adult life making lovespoons and working my ass off to promote them to a world-wide audience.  They are beautiful and wonderful things and deserve better treatment than to be used as props for cheap laughs.  

The more I stewed on it all, the angrier I got.  

Eventually though, I realized that there was a way to ride on the coat-tails of cook Turner's TV stupidity and use it to a positive end.

I keep a box of rejected spoons underneath my bench.  These are spoons which have a flaw that prevents them from being good enough to leave the David Western Lovespoon Studio.  It might be a flaw in the wood, a design problem or a technical glitch...whatever the reason, I can never sell the spoon to a client without endangering my good name.  The spoons wind up in the box and are destined to stay there until the day I day and they are consigned to a dumpster somewhere.

It occurred to me that I could stage my own spoon burning, but this time, instead of just doing it for a cheap laugh, I would use the occasion to raise money for animal welfare shelters and rescue societies.  So I posted my idea to Facebook with the goal of raising 250 UK pounds worth of donations.  I didn't care what societies or shelters received the money (or where they were located) just as long as people sent some money out!   When the donations hit 250, I would build a pyre and drop a match, sending the spoons to a special Valhalla reserved for beautiful lovespoons!!

To my very great surprise, the wonderfully compassionate and generous followers of my pages came through with gusto.  The 250 target was quickly passed and probably reached over 500 within a day.  I confess that I didn't foresee it happening that quickly, but I was pretty damned excited that it did!!

A touching thing which happened after my announcement that I would burn the spoons was a number of people writing to urge me to auction them instead.  As mentioned earlier, the spoons would never be sold, so I certainly would never entertain the idea of auctioning them in their condition.  I do make the occasional spoon for charitable donation, but these ones could never fit that bill.

Instead, a pyre was built, the spoons carefully placed on top and a match struck!!!!

The combination of lots of shredded paper and some very dry spoons meant things happened pretty quickly!!  I was barely able to snap these pics before the whole thing went up like a bomb!!

I did experience a bit of guilt and some remorse at condemning them to this fiery fate, but I also felt exhilaration that these spoons had raised so much money so quickly! Now, they were now being returned to ash which will be used to fertilize my garden and start new growth.

The whole event only took a few minutes, but what beautiful minutes they were!!  

So despite my anger and disappointment with the silliness at ITV, some good came of it all and some animals will enjoy the benefits!  

In future though, I would strongly advise Mr. Turner and the other cooks over at the James Martin Saturday Morning Show to stick to their soufflés and leave anything to do with lovespoons to the professionals!!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Since the 1960's, 'traditional' Welsh lovespoons have evolved a certain commercial style. Easy to mass produce but lacking in imagination and soul, they are the the double-edged sword of the spoon world. They are cheap enough that people will buy them and sort of keep a traditional token alive, but they are so lacking in any of the spirit and passion of an actual traditional spoon that they water down the craft and give people a real false impression of what a love spoon can be. Over the last year or two, I've started taking the old tradition a bit more seriously. Now, when asked to carve a 'traditional' spoon, my designs more accurately reflect what the old spoons actually looked like and more important, how they 'felt'. This one is a relatively simple design (as many were) but the addition of little time consuming details such as the bordering give it the style and feeling missing in commercial souvenir spoons. That the lovely couple who received it have the same initials as my wife and I, is a fun little bonus.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Celtic knot work humble beginnings!

Many years back, when I first got into serious love spoon carving, I was inspired by the wonderful Welsh love spoon carver Mike Davies to incorporate some Celtic design into my work. I discovered a fabulous softcover book called, "Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction" by George Bain. This book supplied me verbatim with the first designs I carved. At first I had no idea how to make my own designs, so copied what was in front of me. Gradually, I modified and altered and eventually made my own patterns. It was both a supremely frustrating and highly enjoyable adventure!! This little Celtic bird (copied almost directly from a tiny sketch in Bain's book) became the inspiration for a little Celtic Dragon...I'll take no real credit for the dragon as it is pretty much a direct copy of the bird, but doing things like this helped me to learn about knot work and Celtic zoomorphic form and after many false starts, allowed me to eventually undertake designs of my own. The little dragon has become a popular design and I often see copies and variations of it drift by on the internet.

I wouldn't classify these as lovespoons per se, but the eternal (closed) knot structure and the heart shaped bowl lends a certain level of romance to what otherwise I would likely label a Celtic spoon.

Humble beginnings, but it was the copying and dissecting that let me start figuring out how Celtic knots work best!!