Living Woods Magazine

This is an article i wrote for Living Woods Magazine it didn't make it, not entirely sure why.

The word Spoon has it’s origins in the old Norse word “sponn” which means chip or splinter of wood, so when we talk about wooden spoons we are really just talking about spoons. I make my living from carving spoons using hand tools to shape green wood pruned from trees. As a pedlar i travel around selling my wares; i also carve for bed and board. My makers mark is a lower case “b”- i like it because turned on it’s side it looks like a spoon. i have only just started signing my spoons I like putting my name to them and i like the fact that i am a person and not a machine.
I read somewhere that to rely on your local environment is to respect it and care for it, i think this is the same for people too, which would seem ironic if you view my life on the road as an attempt to escape this interdependency. It is not an escape, being self employed as a pedlar i feel a much closer relationship to the environment and the people i serve, than any job i’ve ever had. I have been employed in customer services for a multinational before and i didn’t feel like a cog - part of a big machine i felt like a bit of grit that had been added to the machine to slow it down and reduce what the customer could get for their money. Now i peddle spoons it feels like magic when i turn a bit of wood into a cup of coffee. There have been days when i have had no money at all and if i wanted a coffee or some food i carved a spoon and sold it.
Wood is my livelihood and is also where i live, i have a very close relationship to all parts of my business, i sleep and eat where i gather my raw materials, i am in charge of manufacturing and
marketing and sales. My shop is my little silk hanky and my cardboard sign, and if i am grumpy the spoons sell more slowly. I seem to be able to sell all the spoons i can make, but sometimes it can be difficult to persuade someone that the spoon i just took an hour to make is worth the £7 i am asking for it when they can buy one from tesco for 7op, there are days when you don’t want to hear “how much?!” but then i guess that is how i feel when i see poncy “artisans” valuing there crafts so highly, when often there has been little skill in their making. All these things are subjective but it’s hard to find reasons why i should earn any more an hour than anyone else working hard.
There are of course lots of reasons to buy a hand carved wooden spoon, i much prefer to eat with a wooden spoon, the feel of a wooden spoon in your hand and mouth and scraping the bottom of a bowl is infinitely more preferable to that of a metal one (better still if it’s a wooden bowl). To me the look of a wooden spoon is also much more attractive than a mass produced stainless steel one. When you buy a stainless steel mass produced metal spoon you are unlikely to know which country the spoon was made in let alone in which factory and by whom, and to take it further where did the steel come from? what conditions did those who work in the mine endure? When you buy a spoon from me you can know i enjoyed making it, how could you ever know whether those involved in making the metal spoon enjoyed their part in it?
This summer my main focus is on peddling spoons in towns and cities rather than just going from one festival to another preaching to the converted greenies, I will however, be at the Green man festival and the APF show.
Barn the Spoon