A beautiful example of artisanal crafting, the love spoon has a long history that spans across Welsh folklore and survives to this day in the capable hands of the country’s best wood crafters.
The tradition of Welsh love spoons officially goes back as early as the 17th century, with the National Museum of Wales claiming the oldest surviving example is dated from 1667.
The use of the “llwy” is known to date back to at least the 6th century, as it was mentioned by the poet Taliesin, and so the tradition of carving wooden spoons is likely to predate even this.
Traditionally, hardwoods such as sycamore, lime and cherry were used to carve the spoons, although the hardy softwood yew was occasionally used as well.
During the longer, colder winter nights young men had plenty of time to hone their craft, and this is where much of the artistry of the love spoon developed.
Sailors and other young men would have long periods of time to themselves, so they would take their knives, axes or saws and craft a personal design, and these designs went from being a personal addition to being the central focal point of the love spoon as time went on.
Traditionally, the courting process in Medieval Wales would involve an admirer crafting a love spoon as an expression of his feelings, as a lot of these young crafters were shy about confessing their feelings more directly.
In some cases, popular women in villages would receive love spoons from many potential suitors and she would accept the spoon of her true love. The spoon would then be proudly displayed in their home as a symbol of their union.