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…

a well-travelled spoon

For various reasons this spoon has crossed the Atlantic and returned to France twice so far. It's just about to cross over again, to be a part of an event that I am passionate about.

Starting on September 7th 2018, North House Folk School is hosting a special wooden spoon auction to help to fund The Wille Sundqvist and Bill Coperthwaite Slöjd Fellowship. Here's the link: Coperthwaite Sundqvist Slojd auction

Bill Coperthwaite established a homestead in northern Maine to live a simple life based on handcraft. He was the author of 'A Handmade Life'. Wille Sudqvist, who died earlier this year was a celebrated spoon carver and bowl turner, author of 'Swedish Carving Techniques' and other works. Both men were passionate about the importance of handcraft in a society used to buying everything from a shop.

I was immensely privileged to be awarded this Fellowhip in 2017, and to support their fundraising auction I am about to dispatch this spoon on its travels yet agai…

Multi-strand spoons

In the museum at Rennes is a collection of 72 Breton decorated spoons, all from the Pays Vannetais, the area around the city of Vannes in the South of Brittany.  They are all fairly distinctive in style, and are often decorated with elaborate chip-carving and piercing. However none have the coloured wax inlay so prevalent in spoons from further west in Finistère.

Within this collection are a group of spoons that are mainly from around the town of Auray, just to the west of Vannes. These are all one-piece spoons made of boxwood, but are distinguished by having their spoon-necks carved in multiple strands, to look like separate pieces of rope. Some have three strands, some have five, one has nine and one has ten strands!  This rope-like motif is seen on other spoons from the Vannetais area, but always further up the handle, often outlining the flat part of the handle.

Spoon number 955.1.46 is probably the crudest of these spoons. It has a 5-strand neck, and a very simple shaped handle,…