Every interest group from stamp collecting to yo-yoing to clog dancing develops its own community. In the age of social media there will be a Facebook page, websites, Youtubes and blogs. Often there will be clubs, meetings, conventions or gatherings.
This is true of spoon carving with many examples around the globe.
In the USA there is an annual spoon gathering in Milan, Minnesota where people who are really into carving spoons gather to share, take classes and carve. “The spoon represents family, friendship and gathering together.” In addition to the Milan event there are four or five more gatherings that have sprung up in this county and more in Europe.
Specifically, there is “Spoonfest—the international celebration of the carved wooden spoon.” Spoonfest, scheduled for the first part of August and held on a sheep farm in the Peak District in England is sold out this year. A large group of expert carvers, leather workers and sharpeners are scheduled to offer an array of classes. I’ve been following one of the instructors, Jo Jo Wood since I came across some videos of her apprenticing to a wooden shoe maker. (If you want to see something really fascinating check this out).
In the arena of spoon carving Jo Jo and her father Robin fall into the superstar category. Jo Jo carves spoons with such delicacy. Some are so fine you can see light through the bowl. Kind of amazing.
As with every human endeavor there are those people whose work stands out. In the case of Jo Jo and her father and many other spoon carvers, their creations rise to the level of art. (I dislike labeling spoon carving as craft. Don’t you think there’s a strange disconnect between who is considered and “artist” and who is labeled, some might say “diminished” by the word “craftsman?” Every hack who slaps paint on a canvas is considered an artist. Why not every wood carver with a hatchet?
It’s very instructive to watch the many episodes of the PBS series Craft in America. All of the people featured should be, and many are, considered artists.
Another artist in the carving realm is David Fisher who specializes in bowls, an item that spoon carvers routinely take a whack at. A spoon, after all, is just a bowl with a handle. Fisher’s work is definitely art. His bowls are inspirational.
PlymouthCraft in Massachusetts, the center for restoration arts and forgotten trades has an annual Greenwood Fest which includes spoon and bowl carving on the program. Not surprisingly, JoJo Wood and David Fisher are both instructors.
Minnesota seems to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to spoon carving because in addition to the Milan Art School that sponsors the Spoon Gathering they have the North House Folk School which offers many carving course.
There are many more. But suffice to say that the spoon carving niche is a busy one populated by geezers and youngsters alike.