adventures, personal
Comments 43

Why my obsession with this spoon is re-wiring my brain

Who knew spoon carving was so fun & satisfying for the over 50s
This is how the magic begins: with a ‘spoon blank’ machine cut by my teacher Sophie.

Hi Everyone, from cool Autumn days in Australia that make it worth putting up with the dreadful heat of summer.

How are you all? I keep finding myself sitting on my deck, surrounded by the rainforest, staring at this spoon. Not just staring: stroking, smelling, turning and touching.

Is it a magic spoon you ask? Well yes, in some ways it is.

Because I carved it, from White Beech.

OK, so for some of you ‘handy/crafty’ folks, this may not seem like a big deal. Or for those of you who know that spoon-carving is a bit of a ‘hipster’ fad at the moment, perhaps you’re rolling your eyes?

But I don’t care. Because I’m the girl who hated sewing at school; who wasn’t allowed to do woodwork classes (because of being a girl), and who has spent 5 decades baulking at using tools/drills/saws because of an assumed ‘hopelessness’ with them.

My first ever spoon, June 2020

How did this change happen? It was my darling cousin’s idea:

Try this workshop with me G, it will be fun, and a bonding experience- only $140.

It has literally changed my life.

I was fast hooked, because our teacher Sophie was kind, fun, patient, positive, and very knowledgeable. She teaches complete beginners all the time, so knows exactly how to make nervous carvers feel at home.

It soon became a meditation practice: gouging out the bowl with chisel at the exact angle to peel the wood like firm butter.

So satisfying.

Slowly but surely, I persevered at home alone. I ordered tools online, and of course COVID restrictions meant that staying in, carving quietly, was a great entertainment option.

Spiral spoon-carving for beginners
Starting to take its spiral shape… so exciting

My Instagram feed quickly filled with spoony images, and there are a million clips to watch on YouTube if you’re addicted.

But one thing intrigued me: the wooden spiral.

How does it happen??

By now, I’d carved 4 or 5 spoons, cautiously following the wood’s whisper to reveal its shape.

I sent a Red Cedar one to my dear friend in Adelaide, and spent many hours dealing with a very hard (well-named) Iron Bark spoon for my new love, to mark our 6 months of dating… soaking it in water to make it soften, then blunting all my tools as I tried to shape it.

It reminded me of the new relationship: we slowly explore, finding the knots in ourselves and the other, forming a new bond or shape. It can be hard work, and of course, utterly joyful along the way. And full of imperfections πŸ™‚

But back to my spiral obsession… my teacher offered another class, on ‘advanced carving’, and I dared myself to go. I was so excited, and my delight was well-founded, because in only 5 hours, I made this:

Spoon carving for over 50s- so fun!
Nearly done! The final sanding and smoothing is very satisfying

It’s White Beech, easy to carve. There were 5 students including me, and every spoon spiral looked so different. I brought it home to spend more hours working on it; slipping sometimes, nearly cutting myself; learning how to sharpen my knife (a whole other world of learning!), and most importantly, RE-WIRING MY BRAIN.

The 55-yr old brain who thought she was no good with tools.

Who thought she wasn’t practical enough, or creative enough.

Who thought she would make too many mistakes, or cut herself.

Who thought it would just be too hard for her.

Who thought it was simply a gift she didn’t have, and couldn’t learn.

Spoon carving has rewired my brain for success over 50
Oiled & done. I have never felt so proud of any handiwork before ever

Everyone I’ve showed it to, including my son and his cool friends, have marvelled at it. And I’m still delighting in that.

As I was carving, I realised it was the perfect gift for my soulmate sister who is turning 50 this year, so I posted it last week (I really hope she’s too busy to read my blog this month!)

What have you wanted to try but didn’t dare? What secret crafty skill beckons you?

Please please do it, and blog about it- let us delight with you.

In huge gratitude for good teachers, courage, and sharp knives, G xO


  1. These are amazing! You should be proud of your spoon achievements πŸ™‚ COVID has given the timeout to focus on new skills … we just need to grasp the bull by the horns and go for it

    Liked by 1 person

  2. handmade spoons, what a terrific idea to try and make as gifts! I enjoyed reading your post so much and I liked that you ended with an invitation to others to stretch and try new things.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your spoons are beautiful. I love that you followed your heart on this one, creating something useful and decorative in the process. The only thing I’m currently kind of interested in is learning more about macro photography. Perhaps I’ll follow up on that later this year after I’m fully vaccinated.

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  4. Good for you for trying something new! Now you know you’re not only good at it, but you enjoy it as well. It’s easy to think we “can’t” when we really can!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. They are GLORIOUS! πŸ˜€ … take a bow, m’dear! πŸ˜€ … the spiral one is stunning, but I have to say my favourite is your first one. πŸ˜€ … mmm, those curves. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bravo! Your spoons are quite beautiful, a lovely blend of form and function. And Bravo too for having the courage to try something you thought you couldn’t do. Teachers really do have a lot to answer for. 😦
    I was the son my Dad never had so he taught me all sorts of handyman things, including the use of basic carpentry tools. Thank you, Dad! But then in form 2 [year 8 elsewhere?] a teacher thought my humorous essay on the alimentary canal was not so funny, and I was 48 before I allowed myself to believe I was capable of writing fiction again. If I could go back in time I’d kick her butt. And then probably apologise profusely. lol

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  7. Wow, they’re gorgeous! I so identified with this: “who has spent 5 decades baulking at using tools/drills/saws because of an assumed β€˜hopelessness’ with them”. Skills I have learnt recently include basket weaving and intuitive(abstract) art. I am painting up a storm – I average about 5 paintings in a week – and I will get into the basket making soon. It’s hard on my hands though! Well done in creating such beautiful pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. G!!! Wow – the spoons are gorgeous and I am so happy to hear you are celebrating 6 months with a new love!! Big happy hugs to you. Love this post by the way…beyond the limits of what we were taught and into the creativity of emergence at our age…yup. Now I’ve got to figure out mine. Stay tuned…

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  9. Deeply satisfying! And how lovely are your spoons, every one. You’re right, that so many of us cramp our style because of a “can’t do” attitude and so your article gives us a happy buzz and a kick in the pants. Me? I think my approach is “do-do”and never think about whether I’m any good at something new.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, I love it! You’ve entered beginner’s mind and it’s such a playground, isn’t it? If you can keep the frustration and negative self-talk out, it’s delightful. Sounds like you have:). Beautiful work!

    Liked by 1 person

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