Discovering the Art of Carving a Traditional Welsh Lovespoon

Renowned female woodworking enthusiast and author Aimé Ontario Fraser once said: “Woodworking matters. It's more than a pastime or hobby—being a woodworker means that you know the satisfaction and pride that comes from using your hands and mind to build beautiful, functional objects and that you're as interested in the process as the outcome. Amid the speed and chaos of the modern world, woodworking gives us a place where we can slow down, pay attention, and take the time to do things right” Wood carving is not only one of the oldest forms of woodwork, but also one of the most rewarding.  While there are countless beautiful pieces to carve, Welsh love spoons are especially appealing not only because they are so visually enticing, but due to their symbolism and historical charm as well.

What is the purpose of the Welsh love spoon?

According to popular Welsh folklore, love spoons were typically carved by young men from a single piece of wood to give to their sweethearts as a token of their adoration. Although all love spoons served the same general purpose, there are many different symbols that were carved into them, each with its own beautiful and unique meaning.  One of the most popular symbols is the chain which signifies a man’s intent to be with his beloved forever. Other popular symbols include a padlock which is perceived to be a promise of devotion, diamonds that indicates the hope for wealth, bells that signify marriage, crosses that are linked to faith, and twisted stems meaning togetherness.

Love spoons are still relevant today

Although traditional love spoons date back to the 17th century, they still very much remain a popular gift choice today for everything from marriages, engagements, anniversaries, and even christenings.  Love spoons were traditionally carved from soft woods such as lime and sycamore and although these are still valid materials, an increasing number of crafters are also starting to make use of woods such as pine, cherry, pear, and walnut. Even the carving process has, for the most part, stayed the same although some wood crafters to make use of modern-day woodworking tools when they need to produce a large number of spoons in a short period of time.

Carving your own love spoon by hand 

Once you have found a piece of wood you like, you can start making your spoon. The first step in carving your own love spoon is to draw up a design. Once you are happy with it, you can transfer it onto your wood. Carve out the outside shape of your spoon first before shading in the internal areas that also have to be removed. Once this task has been completed it is time to start carving the intricate details into your spoon. Do not start carving the back side of the spoon until you have completed the top part.

Once all the rough carving has been completed, you can start softening the angular lines of the handle. Shaping the bowl of the spoon comes next after which the one side of your spoon will be complete. You can now turn it over and continue to carve the underside. When you are happy with the look of your spoon you can sand and seal it before gifting someone special with your handcrafted masterpiece.

Carving a lovespoon has always been a thoughtful and personal process. It is for this very reason that gifting someone with a spoon you have made yourself is without a doubt one of the most beautiful gestures you can ever bestow upon anyone.

Author: Alicia Rennoll.

Hobbies basswood makes the ideal material to carve your own Welsh Lovespoons.