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A brief history of the Welsh Love Spoons
Welsh love spoons are a historic art form that originated within Wales over 350 years ago. We have been crafting them in Wales from Welsh hardwood for over 35 years.
Welsh love spoons date back to the 17th century and older works have not surfaced from earlier than this time despite beliefs that the craft dates back much further. At St. Fagans Folk Museum, Cardiff, they have an extensive selection of love spoons, one of which is dated back to 1667 (the oldest surviving example).
Birth of the Welsh Love Spoon
Love spoons developed from the practice of carving utensils in order to increase their aesthetic value whilst still being fit for use in the home. In Wales, the cawl spoon was favoured for such carving and etching. From the classic utilitarian use of a spoon, the love spoon developed symbolic significance.
Over time these spoons diverged from a more classical styled cawl spoon and began to lose their practical function, instead becoming an article to be kept and admired. Decorative handles and grooves began to show up in designs to allow a piece to hang on the wall. As the carvers’ skill flourished, the creative element developed into their carving.
Evolution of the Welsh Love Spoon
History tells us that these ornate wooden spoons were made by young men as a creative pastime during the long winter months whilst thinking about a young lady of their fancy. They would carve motifs into the spoons which related to each other, making it as elaborate as their skills would allow. When finished with the spoon, they would then present it to the young lady and if she accepted the gift it was regarded as a betrothal token.
Sailors also carved love spoons to pass the time at sea and ended up carving some of the most inspired works, incorporating anchors, ropes and ships into their designs. They also introduced culture from the countries that they visited into their carvings, such as vines which developed from Italy and decorative spoons that bear similarities to African shields. They also introduced different types of hard and soft woods from their travels.
Love Spoons Today
At the end of the 19th century, the custom of carving spoons largely faded. However, today, Welsh love spoons are a very popular gift for anyone to give at just about any occasion. Whether for a wedding, anniversary, birthday or baby shower, we have a suitable love spoon that is enriched with all the meaningful symbolism of the past.
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