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The Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons

By David Western

Reviewed by Dr. Steven R. Brandt

coverI started out with the idea of comparing David Western’s Fine Art of Carving Lovespoons to Carving Spoons by Shirley Adler, since Matt Kelly had told me there
had not been a review of Adler’s book in WOM.  Both are published by Fox Chapel,
which would seem to put them at odds with each other.  Such is not the case, however;
all I can say about David Western’s book is “Wow, this is over-the-top spoon carving.”
I think Adler’s book is best for introducing love spoons to carvers and deserves a review on its own.  She will take a carver from beginner to advanced spoon forms.

David Western was born in Cardiff, Wales and now resides in Victoria,  British Columbia.  Trained at the London College of Furniture, he has certifications in cabinet making and advanced furniture design.  He now carves custom spoons for his livelihood,
specializing in Celtic Knotwork designs.  He draws ideas from Art Deco, Northwest Coast First Nations, and Islamic Art forms to create his delicate one-piece spoons.



Part One: Lovespoons then and now

  • Historical Perspective
  • Myths and Meanings  
  • Lovespoons today

Part Two: The Basics       

  • Wood
  • Tools
  • Sharpening
  • Technique
  • Finishing

Part Three: Lovespoon Carving

  • Novice
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Part Four: Designs and Patterns

  • Designing a Lovespoon
  • Patterns
  • Sources


The Preface carries the stamp of approval from Dr Emma Lile, Curator of St. Fagan’s Natural History Museum, in Cardiff, Wales, home of the oldest know lovespoons in this form.

The Introduction reveals Western’s passion for creativity and his desire to replace some of the banal plasticity of our society with the warmth of handcarved woods.

Part One plunges you into a wealth of historical material with displays of ancient spoons from St. Fagan’s in Western’s native Wales and shows the depth of research into the historical meanings and symbology of these spoons, as well as references to other collections,  and how they can be applied into modern spoons.

Part Two is all about the basics of carving, woods to use, tools and of course, sharpening, but the Wood !!  David uses spectacular, highly figured maple, red alder, walnut, and cherry.  In a craft where we tend to use woods with little or no grain showing, Western is carving in a Technicolor of flaming, swirling, and spalted figures that dazzle the eye.  Techniques include chipcarving, ball-in-cage, chain links, and scrollsaw work for the pierced elements. 

With such delicate work, a highly important section on mistakes and repairs is appreciated.  Finishing relies on Watco Danish Oil to bring out the fire in his pieces and beeswax polish to protect them.

Part Three begins Western’s step-by-step series of spoon carving with beginner, intermediate and advanced spoon designs.  The beginner spoon contains a number of traditional elements but will require a scroll saw to cut out the several pierced areas.
The intermediate spoon introduces natural looking leaves combined with Celtic Knotwork and hearts.  The advanced spoon has multiple balls-in-a-cage and chain links with hearts.

Part Four is about designing spoons and patterns and the teacher in David shows in his encouragement for people to tap into their own creativity.  He shows that even the doodles of an uninhibited six year old can give form to the vague ideas of spoons that might be, and that it does not take great artwork to create new ideas.

This is a wonderful book that will take spoon carvers to new heights.  Most of the illustrations of spoons note their dimensions and  wood types and a gallery of his contemporaries work is included.  Buy the book ….. and join the W3E Spoon Exchange

StevenDr. Steven R. Brandt  is a 51 year old retired dentist living in Oklahoma City. He has been a chip carver for about nine years and has been carving in the round for about five years.  A participant in the W3E Secret Pal exchange for most of that time, he has started carving spoons and has taken over the duties of coordinator for the W3E Spoon Exchange group, which has recently restarted and completed their first round robin of exchanges this Fall.  He is currently the VP of the OKC carvers group which has a great website at .  He teaches carving classes at Woodcrafter's and at the Edmond OK Senior Center and was recently the judge for the Springfield/Branson Gouge Chipcarving Exhibition held at Engler's Block in Branson MO.  ! 


Copyright 2008, All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.