|Project by Mark A. DeCou||posted 12-31-2006 07:02 PM||5499 views||2 times favorited||8 comments|
I had almost forgotten about these Spoons, but then I ran onto the photo this morning while going through the computer.
Love Spoons have a rich heritage in both Love and Family bonds, two things that I hold dear. For Mother’s Day, I carved a spoon for my Wife, my Mom, and my Mom-in-Law.
These are fun to make, have endless options for creative carvings, and are treasured by the people that receive them. To go along with the gift, I did a bunch of historical research and then did a little story card for each spoon that described the history and the meanings of the carvings for each spoon. I only had a day to do all three, so my spoons are not as detailed, or creative, as many of the historical spoons.
I posted this project, as I thought other lumberjocks would enjoy making them, and thought if they had not heard of Love Spoons already, they would appreciate learning about them.
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recognized as a highly collectible form of folk-art, the Welsh Lovespoon was not meant for culinary use, but purely as an ornament, carved by a young man, and presented to the girl of his choice as a symbol of his romantic interest. If the girl accepted the spoon it meant the interest was mutual and the couple were then considered to be courting (spooning). The young suitor, using a pen-knife, and scrap of metal as a scraper, would labor to show his “intended,” and her father, that he was good with his hands, which was vital in rural Wales.
Any available time over the coming months, would be spent carving the spoon using symbols to declare his love. For instance, he would carve a Heart on the spoon to show that his heart was her’s, whereas a Keyhole would be an indication of his desire to share his home with her, and assuming their growing together throughout their long lives, he would carve a Vine on the spoon.
As the new couple spent their many years together, the courtship Lovespoon that had brought them together, all those years before, was given a place on the wall of their living room, and as it was passed through the many generations that followed, it was believed to keep their love alive and everlasting, making it a highly prized, and coveted, family heirloom.
Historical examples of Lovespoons vary considerably in size from a few inches to nearly a yard long, and are generally carved from locally available wood. Most Lovespoons have a wide, highly decorated handle and a single spoon bowl, though double and occasionally triple bowled spoons exist.
Historically, Lovespoon art included a great variety of carving styles and subject matter, which in times past, probably had much to do with the occupation of the carver. Thus spoons with ships and anchors were probably carved by sailors. With the passage of time, however, the various symbols have come to be associated with particular sentiments. For example, a Ship could be taken to mean the couple embarking on life’s voyage, or an Anchor would mean the suitor’s intention to settle down.
Unfortunately for the historian, love spoons were often undated. In the collection of Lovespoons at the Museum of Welsh life at St. Fagan’s in Cardiff, there is one spoon which dates to the 1660s, as well as many other fine examples, assuring that the carving of lovespoons is a part of Welsh Culture going back many centuries. The custom was widespread into the late 19th century when it gradually died out.
Although the Lovespoon courting ritual in Wales has ceased, Lovespoon making has continued as a traditional folk-art craft to the present day. Most of the modern examples are given as wedding, birthday, Mother’s Day, anniversary or christening presents, or for other special occasions. These are often personalized, with the addition of names and dates either carved, wood-burned, painted, or written in ink.
Today, there are a few collectors that carve Lovespoons themselves, but most examples are created by small groups of artisans in southern Wales, working to create intricate and beautiful folk-art examples of this old custom, while supporting their own families.
Throughout the centuries, Lovespoon symbols have come to communicate certain understood sentiments:
Hearts: single or entwined, for love.
Keys and keyholes: keys to my heart or my home
Diamonds: for wealth
Cornucopia: horn of plenty
Wheel: good fortune
Cross: keeping faith
A vine or tree of life: a growing relationship
Single Heart – My Heart is yours
Double Heart – Love is returned, we feel the same way
Celtic Knot – Everlasting
A Flower – Courtship
A Daffodil – Flower of Wales
The Dragon – Symbol of Wales / Protection
A House – My Home is Yours
A Chain – Captured Love
Balls in a cage – Captured Love / Number of Children Desired
Heart Shaped Bowl – Fulfilled Love
Double Bowl – The Couple
Triple Bowl – The Couple and family
Horse Shoe – Good Luck
Bells – The Wedding
A Ship – Safe Journey through Life
An Anchor – I Want to Settle Down
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com