Jan 302016

Linda’s Grandma Ersie’s jam spoon was worn down from use. It was my favorite spoon to cook with but it was declared an historical artifact and removed from service. A year ago I decided to make a copy of it. At the time, I must have been happy with my replica of Ersie’s spoon. Looking at it now I realize that it is a piece of crap, very crude and poorly done.


I must have been delusional to think it was an acceptable piece.

But, hey, self-delusion is one of humanity’s greatest defense mechanisms. It protects us from true self-awareness.

In fact, self-delusion is quite necessary for all erst-while crafts people and wannabe artists. The Bell Curve rules and when one embarks on a new creative endeavor odds are that one will end up being mediocre. But we are all so happy with our creations, because we created them, that very often we are actually willing to show them to people. The “showing” arises out of a desperate desire for positive feedback.

I am blessed to live with someone who is a positive feedback machine. Every carving I bring in the house is praised to the rafters, even my crappy jam spoon replica. The wonderful thing about positive feedback is that even if we know our creation isn’t really that good, the feedback is soothing and keeps us going.

Self-awareness is a positive virtue and lack of it is extremely notable in those who don’t possess it. On the other hand self-awareness can be depressing. It’s not that much fun to take a close look at our warts and blemishes.

So in a burst of self-awareness and self-criticism I realized that my try at making a jam spoon like Grandma Ersie’s was a failure. The question that arose from this insight was: A year later could I do a better job? I set out to try. It could be delusion but I think I succeeded. I must be improving a little bit.



Part of the reason for improvement is tools. (At some point I will try and reconstruct my tool acquisitions). A lot of the fun of a new hobby is getting to buy stuff. Boys like to buy tools and really sharp things like knives, saws and chisels are especially satisfying. There’s some danger involved. (At some point I will try and recap my cuts and how I try to avoid them).

Part of the reason must be improved technique. Technique involves manipulation of the tools but also sharpening. Sharpening is really important. I’m getting better but have a way to go. Sharpening opens up a whole other shopping opportunity with diamond stones, water stones, Arkansas stones, etc.


Although I now have a working replica of Ersie’s spoon it is only a replica. Missing are those years and years of stirring strawberry jam, so much stirring that the edge of the spoon is worn down. I once read a book by the quirky British archeologist TC Lethbridge who believed that emotions could attach themselves to inanimate objects like rocks or, I suppose, spoons. Using a pendulum (dowsing) Professor Lethbridge could determine the emotion that was attached to it. I can’t know if his findings were as valid as they are interesting but all of us know that historical artifacts are fascinating because they have been used. We can visualize a pioneer churning or hewing or whatever.

Ersie’s spoon is different from mine because she used hers for maybe fifty years  making jam, stirring so much that she wore off an inch of wood in the process. There’s a whole category of spoons called “love spoons.” Hard to beat the amount of love in Grandma Ersie’s jam spoon.


  4 Responses to “Jam Spoon”

  1. I love this story and can certainly relate to the self-delusion necessary for attempts to make things!

  2. I have an old “tasting spoon” I inherited from my brother. It has a half circle handle that channels soup and such to the end of the handle so the cook can taste it without putting there mouth on the spoon end. I always thought that was so cool.Wish I knew all the history of it though.

  3. I need to make one of those tasting spoons. Have seen lots of photos of them on the web.

  4. Ira Glass has the best advice ever on creativity. Vision + work (lots and lots and lots of it) is what it takes. You’re on your way, Randy. http://omeleto.com/188186/

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