How I Started Making Wooden Spoons

My Very First Wooden Spoon

I made my first wooden spoon after helping my mother make a wedding cake for one of my sisters. My mother wanted to make her daughter the same kind of cake that she had at her own wedding. She even borrowed the same cake pans. It was an old English fruit cake and the recipe made 29 lb. of batter. She mixed it in a plastic tub and asked me to help. She stirred and I stirred, taking turns. It took a great deal of stirring and you had to be careful not to break the handle of her store-bought wooden spoon.

I thought, "I have three more sisters. She is bound to do this again. I should make a spoon that is really up to the job." So I made one nearly 3 feet long, but my sisters got married far from home and my mother never made another wedding cake.

Nevertheless, I sometimes made a wooden spoon for a gift after that, and one winter when I was out of work I attempted to make more to earn at least a little money, but I didn't have a way to make them fast enough.

Making it My Business

In 1988 I got hold of the wood of a prune plum tree, Italian prune or something like that. Anyway, I cut it into boards with a chain-saw and thought that when it was dry I'd make something out of it. It was about the first of July, hot and dry, and prune wood is hard and rigid, hard to dry without cracking. It started to crack and I realized I had to cut it into something thinner that could dry more evenly. I had some tools available because both my landlord and a friend, who lived not far away, had extensive shops. In the end, I made it all into wooden spoons.

At that time I had another friend and neighbor who used to go to craft fairs with little dolls she made. She saw the wooden spoons and said, "Those are great! You should make some more and come to the fair with me."

I had objections. I didn't know what to charge and wondered if anybody would pay for the time it took to make a real wooden spoon.

She said, "Never mind. I'll help you figure that out. Just come to the fair and you'll see."

So I went. People bought them, so I just kept on doing it. Eventually I thought, "If I can just find another couple of good fairs, I can quit my regular job and just make wooden spoons."
Painting a Wooden Stool
My mother, father and grandfather could all make things out of wood if they needed to and we had tools for that purpose, which I also learned to use. The tools I use for making wooden spoons and utensils, however, nobody taught me to use. I had to figure it out for myself. Some of them were not even on the market when I began.

On Keeping My Methods Secret

Some people tell me I shouldn't reveal my process, lest others go into competition with me. I believe I will be happier to look back on my life and know I have helped some other people explore and develop their creativity rather than to make more money, As such, I am willing to answer questions and tell people where to get the right tools for the job.