I am

Spoon carving? Go figure.

A few years ago, my wife, Dayna, said to me, “Cliff you spend too much time in your head. All you ever talk about is your teaching and your research. You need a hobby.”

She was right. But, what hobby should I take up? With her encouragement, I signed up for a 3-day spoon carving class that was taught concurrently with a course she was interested in at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. I’ve been hooked since then.

Why am I drawn to carving wooden spoons? It’s a question I’ve asked myself more times than I’ve had answers for. First, I’ve always enjoyed woodworking. I built wooden boats in my twenties. There’s something about a fair curve of the lines of a well-built boat that has always drawn me.

But boats take a lot of time, money, and space to build. I needed a hobby where I could bring a piece of work from start to finish sooner than a boat. Spoons are fast. Boats can take years to build part-time. I can carve a spoon in a couple of days of after-hours leisure. I like that.

And, spoons are made—if they are made well—of fair curves. I take great joy in letting the grain of the wood dictate the shape that each spoon should take. Where the curves of a boat are built up from a combination of wood, fasteners, and glue, the curves of a spoon are simply revealed by carving away excess until only the spoon remains. They are simple. A single piece of wood. I like that.

I’m pleased to share here photos of some of the spoons I’ve carved, as well as some of my ramblings about the joy that spoon carving brings me. Visit my spoon carving website www.carvedbycliff.com