I spent most of the winter working with my hands, making bespoke jewellery for Silk Purse, Sow’s Ear as part of their seasonal staff – a return to making, after a year of reading, thinking and writing. After deciding to close my jewellery-making craft business in order to concentrate on my food studies and having cleared out my woodworking workshop on the snowiest days of the year (not recommended), I felt resolute that this was the right path for me.
Yet, after an autumn of making many chains, and finding pleasure in returning to the therapeutic trance-like state of repetitive craft work I thought it was time to return to that simple gratification of creation. A feeling similar to that which I get when chopping up leftover veg box items to ferment on a Sunday. I had retained my set of spoon-carving tools, and, as Christmas approached, I thought the New Year would be the perfect time to make a pledge to actually go ahead and use the tools which had been untouched for almost three years. My initial thoughts of carving a wooden spoon a day became a more realistic resolution to carve a wooden spoon a week, a tactile and tangible connection between my work with wood and work with food.
Now it’s the 15th of January, so according to my resolution, I should have made two by now. And so I wonder, is this something really important to me? How important are deadlines for production during the creative process? It’s definitely something I would like to do, but at what cost? This is often an issue when doing things for pleasure as a creative when they may overlap with things I do for work, especially those that can be monetised with a nice brand and some product shoots (for yes, I do enjoy that part of being a maker).
This notion also correlates with my love of fermenting. Often I thought (despite a plethora of burgeoning businesses that are now operating in Edinburgh such as the wonderful Edinburgh Fermentarium), making fermented products could be “something I could do” but the upscaling would probably take all the joy out of the process. Sure, designing and branding a product range would be great fun, but maybe there would be less of a thrill in the uniformity of the jars, the challenge and pleasure of trying to work out how much sauerkraut you could stuff into one vessel, before deciding to ‘repot’ into another. Additionally, my habit of not weighing the veg for salt ratios – something I’ve always done by sight, touch or taste has always been a gamble, and most of the time my ferments have been fine – but you could never risk that, or be as experimental with flavour combinations if you had to sell them to the public. And so the joy of making or cooking for those you love (including yourself) runs the risk of being spoilt. This is also one such reason why I do not have any ambition to be a chef.
So in conclusion, it seems like the idea of carving a spoon a week may just have to be a labour of love which will happen if and when the urge takes me…

Update Autumn 2019:

A week after I first drafted this post I saw a last minute place for a Spoon Carving workshop with the lovely Catherine from Object Company, something I had had my eye on for years (and had even booked in the past but they had to cancel the workshop!) And so, it has begun, the first spoon in progress, my labour of love… only 51 to go!

Three months after I first drafted this post I ended up working freelance with the aforementioned Edinburgh Fermentarium!

Also three months after I first drafted this post, I also started working in a part-time role as a supervisor at Dig-In, a community-owned greengrocer. After a very busy summer of grocering, fermenting and writing, and a couple of food-related travel adventures the amount of half-completed spoons remains at 3, and that’s just fine with me, there’s always next year..!