After sharing the first few posts on Instagram, Mason here found my posts through the wonderful algorithms of social media. He makes spoons.
How did you start making spoons?
It was probably about year ago, that I took a workshop at the Handcraft Studio. Wendy Chen, teaches the spoon class there.
What all did you learn?
It was a pretty small class, maybe 15 people, we were each given a piece of roughed up wood, all the necessary tools, a gouge, rasp, lots of sandpaper, and then she just walked us through all the steps to make a spoon.
What made you want to take that class?
I think my parents and I heard about the studio through a friend, and that class really stood out as one that would be fun to take. I’ve always been pretty crafty, just working on little DIY projects, artistic ventures, but wood was something that I wanted to try out.
After the workshop, I got a “spoon high” where just after creating something, it was just this amazing feeling of having this idea of what you wanted to make, and then actually making it
What motivates you to make the spoons?
I think creating something that is really utilitarian, sensitive and beautifully designed is something I take a lot of pleasure in.
Lead us through the process of making the spoon.
There’s not really much planning that goes into making spoons. You can have an idea of what you want to make, and then once you start reading the wood, sketch out the spoon on the wood, then it’s really an organic process. I start by getting my piece of wood, right now I’m hooked on walnut wood, it’s a really deep rich color, plus it’s really hard. From there I sketch out the spoon, just drawing the general shape in pencil, and then I go in with a gouge and carve out the inside of the bowl. This is probably the most nuanced, finessed part of the process. You have to work on shaping out the bowl perfectly, getting it how you like. You can get very circular shapes, some shapes closer to ovals, really it’s up to you. From there, I use a jigsaw and cut out the spoon being very careful around the head of it, being sure all the time I spent gouging it out doesn’t go to waste. From there, I have a rouged out spoon, a general outline, and then I use a combination of rasps, files, and low grit sandpaper, and continue to rough out the spoon. Then I go in with 80 grit sandpaper and then I wet the spoon, let it dry, which raises the grain. Raising the grain prevents it from it becoming rough in the future, so when people are using it, it doesn’t become soft again. I go over it again with 120 grit, wet it, let it dry, 150, then work my way up to 320 and then finally 600.
After you sand it is there anything else you do to finish the spoon?
The most satisfying, amazing feeling. I use spoon butter, which is a combination of beeswax and coconut oil, it has this great smell. It’s a food-safe wax. I coat the entire spoon and then let it dry for at least 30 minutes before use.
What influences your spoon-making?
Like I said, there’s not a lot of planning that goes into it, I sketch out rough ideas but then it’s the wood, speaking and saying what it wants to be, by the curve of the grain or knots in the wood. But it’s funny, through Instagram, I’ve connected with a whole spoon community. There are some amazing artists who make other spoons, and that’s inspiring. They might use the same wood, same tools, but they always come out with different designs and their own style, and I think that’s really beautiful. So really seeing other’s work and being able to put my own twist on it, and my own personal aesthetic into it influences my spoon-making.
How about the cat spoon?
It’s funny it was actually the first spoon that I made in the class was the cat spoon. Wendy Chien was telling us we could design anything we wanted, we could put notches into it, make it a zig-zag, any shape really. So I started to sketch out and play around with with what I could add to it that’s different. She has spoons with little pointed corners, so it’ll be circular and then one edge will come to a point. And she uses that so when you’re cooking, in a pot most spoons can’t get to the hard corners, but her spoons can. And so I wanted to play around with something that’s kind of playful but also useful. So the cat spoons can get into the edges of the bowl too.
What hobbies do you have outside of making spoons?
Oooh. Well my parents have been great about encouraging any artistic ventures of mine. I was really into watercoloring. I go through phases. I had a watercolor phase. When I was 6 or 7, I was really into knitting and crocheting, that was short-lived. Sewing has always stuck with me. My little company of sorts is Bobbin And Spool. I named it because the bobbin and the spool are two parts of a sewing machine, and then they come together in unison to create something.
Tell me more about your other DIY projects.
Going to the flea market, seeing old design, like some really ugly tables and wares. Seeing what I do like and don’t like really influences my designs.
Nice Pitcher plant! How’d you manage to fit all these guys in there?
Thanks! I took a class at Packs and Gate, it’s a little shop on Valencia, really great, kind of the creepier side of botany, but they have workshops, taxidermy classes, I’m not really into that but this was pretty fun.
Have you seen your style change much as you’ve been making spoons?
I think my style has stayed consistent, I like the really minimal straightforward. I’m influenced by mid-century/modern design, the really simple less-is-more approach. I’ve found that my style has changed in that it’s become more detail-oriented. I can make a bunch of spoons, all with the same shape, but there’s little details that change from spoon to spoon. It’s like Darwinism but for spoons. Like if I make a spoon and it has a slightly larger head than it’s stem, and I like that, I’ll continue to repeat that process in the next spoon. So it’s really just the evolution of the spoon.
Where do you see yourself 5-10 years down the line?
Oooh. Like I said, I kind of go from thing to thing when it comes to art or design, but I’ve really been stuck on spoons. I work at The Parish Trust on Saturdays, and they’re actually carrying some of my spoons right now. I’m still just developing my style, and my skills, so maybe once I become more developed I’ll have a little side business. I don’t think it will become a main thing, but I’d always like to continue doing it.
Anything you’d like to share with people following your work?
If anyone is interested in woodworking, and hasn’t pursued anything or taken a class, I would definitely highly recommend it. I think it’s a good skill to have, especially with the digital age, there are lots of designers online, and that work is great, but it’s also hard, I mean just with the internet and designing things. Online it’s good to have something physical, along with that.