The intricately carved wooden lovespoon has traditionally been used as a token of affection in Wales. Each spoon could contain different meanings as shown by the use of various symbols, for instance: a chain would mean a wish to be together forever; a diamond would mean wealth or good fortune; a cross would mean faith; a flower would mean affection; or a dragon for protection. Many sailors carved spoons as they had much free time at sea on their long voyages, they would carve such symbols as anchors or ships into the spoon. Although the Welsh lovespoon has its unique qualities, other styles of lovespoons have been made in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, particularly Romania.
In Botswana, a republic in southern Africa the wooden spoon is used as a token to share duties, responsibilities and knowledge, the holder contributes to the work in whatever small way, like a group contributing to a dish by adding ingredients, mixed with the spoon.
In the Philippines, wooden rice spoons with carved sacred images of bulul representing deities or ancestral spirits (anito) are traditional among the Ifugao people. Despite the animistic carvings, they are everyday utensils used for eating rice or soups or serving wine. Today, they are commonly sold as souvenirs to tourists.
In Romania, in the city of Câmpulung Moldovenesc, there is the Wooden Spoons Museum, a museum displaying the collection of wooden spoons from Romania and the world of a now deceased Romanian history professor.
In the Philippines, giant wooden spoons and forks are traditionally hung in the dining room, framed, or placed inside a cabinet. Both are the most common traditional utensil pairing in the Philippines (as opposed to the knife and fork as in western countries). Along with a painting or tapestry of the Last Supper, they are some of the more ubiquitous decorations in Filipino homes. They are regarded as symbols of good health.
Jim Morasco sent in an email with an excellent question on staining. Jim writes:
I was wondering if you have any tips on preparing a piece for staining? Most of the time I end up painting something I intended to stain because the wood looks damaged. I try sanding but sometime it gets worse. Thanks!”
That’s a great question, Jim! Staining wood carvings can be really tricky and if not done properly you can ruin a perfectly good carving in the process. The problem when staining a wood carving is that all of the end grain of the carving soaks up the stain more the sides leaving the unsightly dark blotches many of us have experienced. What I have found when staining a wood carving is that you need to seal the wood before staining. There is a sanding sealer on the market that some carvers use although I have never tried it. You really just need to apply any kind of wood sealer to the carving first before applying the stain. This helps to prevent the stain from soaking into the end grain. Polyurethane or lacquer both work well. I use Deft spay lacquer with success. The key is to be sure your carving is well coated with the sealer, especially on the end grain. As always, it’s a good idea to practice on a scrap piece of wood first.
John Pearson sent in an email with a suggestion in response to my request for recommendations for wood carving suppliers. John writes:
I exclusively use Heinecke Wood Products for basswood. They supply their Northern Wisconsin basswood to many well known carvers.
Thanks for the suggestion, John! I too, like so many other (noted) wood carvers Use Heinecke basswood exclusively. In my opinion they have the best quality basswood you can find anywhere. I’ve never been disappointed with basswood from Heinecke Wood Products. I will make sure to put them on the list!
We need your contributions to Wood Chip Chatter! A few days ago I mentioned that I’m going to put together a list of woodcarving suppliers and asked for anyone who had suggestions to please send them in. So far I have only gotten two (2) suggestions. Wood Chip Chatter is the type of blog that thrives on the contributions (questions, comments, suggestions) from its readers. I’m sure there are more than two woodcarving suppliers out there so let’s hear from you so we can make this list more comprehensive and worthwhile. Send your suggestions in to firstname.lastname@example.org or just click on the Comments button. Thanks for pitching in!
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Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!