Old, everyday Breton spoons

In the breton countryside nearly everyone had a wooden spoon and perhaps a knife to eat their simple diet of soup, pottage, vegetables and stew - a spoon was often a peasant’s only personal possession.

 These everyday spoons were kept in a porte-cuillères, (Breton: parheiler, English: spoon rack) that was usually hung from the ceiling or stood on a table. This photo is of a plain porte-cuillère  in my collection, with the spoons it came with, from a cottage in the village of Guerlesquin in Finistère.

Porte-cuillères were a practical storage method to keep spoons dry, aired and relatively clean in a small cottage. At the end of a meal each person would lick their spoon clean, perhaps even wipe it on a sleeve and then replace it in the porte-cuillères, which could often then be raised up out of the way by means of a counter weighted pulley. In this way it was possible to allow the spoon to air dry - avoiding the development of mold. It also, in theory, prevented mice and other vermin fr…

Spoon Carving class in North Carolina

I'm really excited about teaching a Breton spoon carving class at Elia Bizzarri's place in Hillsborough, NC in July.  We will be making the gorgeous one-pieces shapes based on spoons from the Pays de Vannetais and Pays de Cornouille in Brittany.

We decided to make the course over three days so people can really get the feel of these simple and elegant spoons that were made here in Brittany in the 1800's without having to rush.

We shall start in the forest and select a suitable tree, fell it and make spoon blanks using axe, saw and drawknife.  I will take people through the step-by-step process, with help to master the various axe techniques and knife grips along the way.

Once your spoons are carved, there will be a day to decorate your spoon. Traditionally these spoons were decorated using intricate chip-carving that was then filled with a hard wax inlay to give a brightly coloured pattern. This pattern often covered the top, bottom and both sides of the spoon handles.


Paroirs de sabotier - French clogmakers knives

These tools were part of a collection and are all in beautiful condition, with no rust at all. Some are almost unused. The man selling them wanted them to go to people who will use them.

They all need a good sharpening, and most need the handles replacing as many have woodworm and some are broken. They will normally be shipped with the handles removed (I can omit the handle completely if you want, and include photographs for reference for making replacements). All have ferrules.

I think the prices I am asking are fair. Yes you can get them cheaper on french internet sites, but I’ve never seen them in such good condition, and you’ll have difficulty getting them shipped!! This gives me a small profit for my time and hassle and covers my expenses (packaging and Paypal).
Shipping Shipping will be by French Parcel post, which is the least expensive option I can find. Shipping prices are for tracked parcels.
For UK buyers, I can post in the UK which is marginally cheaper, but sadly only to…

four roundels and six hearts

Four roundels and six hearts: the decoration on an old Breton folding spoon, discovered in detail as I traced the outlines of the patterns for a future book about the decoration of these lovely old spoons.

This spoon is in the reserves of the Museum at Nantes.

Nantes, at the mouth of the Loire river used to be the chief city of the Duchy of Brittany until 1532, when Brittany and Kingdom of France were united. Nantes and the surrounding département, the Loire-Atlantique were part of the Région of Brittany until after the second World War, when they were split off to form part of a new Région called Pays de la Loire. This was not a popular move at the time and still remains contentious. Most inhabitants of Nantes consider themselves to be breton to this day.

So back to the Museum at Nantes. The Musée d'histoire de Nantes is to be found within the Château des ducs de Bretagne, which is a building that is every bit as impressive as it sounds, and well worth a visit in itself.

Having p…