When it’s time to get some new spoons, the first place you turn is Ikea or Amazon, if you don’t feel like leaving the house. But some prefer to make their own spoons, the old fashioned way. Giles Newman is one of those people. But once you see Newman’s hand crafted spoons you won’t want to use them. Rather you’ll want to display them as unique works of art.
Don’t be fooled by the term spoon carving. We’re not talking about the old coot in Westerns that sits on the porch whittling away at a piece of wood. Newman’s spoons are intricate and impressive, showing off different themes, lots of detail, and complex patterns you wouldn’t expect to see in an ordinary utensil. Obviously, it takes a lot of patience to create something this ornate, but it also takes precision and skill as Newman shows in one of his videos where he goes through the complete process of creating a single spoon, from chunk of wood to final coat of varnish.
Giles’ approach to wood craving is more traditional, using his preferred ax, the Small Forest Axe by Grandsfors Burks. After sketching out the design of the spoon on the log, he then uses small movements with the ax for both precision and safety reasons. He then makes sure the surface is smooth and the finish is even. “My working methods are probably more akin to traditional green woodworkers of centuries past than modern woodcarvers,” says Giles. “more as a result of the way that I taught myself to carve rather than a conscious decision. I predominantly work outdoors, I don’t have a workshop, use only basic, unpowered hand tools and source my timber locally and from the woodland that I help to manage in North Wales. It is this connection with the outdoors that drives and inspires my woodcarving.”
Looking at Giles’ work, it’s hard to believe the entire thing was created by hand without unpowered tools. It’s easy to imagine intricate woodwork, like a highly detailed owl wrapping up the handle, but it seems almost impossible to chisel the features by hand. Though all of his work is stunning, it’s clear some of them aren’t meant to be used to eat with, like the spoon whose handle is a maple leaf.
Many of Giles’ woodwork features animals and other images from nature, which he says comes from his need to feel a connection with the outdoors. “I try to capture the detailed nuances of the natural world around me in my carvings as well as incorporating my own interpretation of the traditional, strong symbolism that has been so central to woodcarving for thousands of years,” says Giles. But he’s also influenced by various art movements, like Art Nouveau and traditional Japanese and Native American art. You can spot these influences in his works, like the Silver Birch Koi Carp Serving Spoon and the Sycamore Dream Catcher Spoon.
Giles’ work is certainly impressive. No matter how many pictures you see of his spoons, there’s always going to be another one that will captivate you. It’s a talent and skill he wants to share with others as well. You can find some of his work on Etsy if you want to have one of these originals in your home.