"A Taste for Spoons from the Collection of Nora and Norman Stevens" at the Fuller Craft Museum

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"A Taste for Spoons from the Collection of Nora and Norman Stevens" at the Fuller Craft Museum
Sion Llewellyn, Wales, 2010. Holly.

BROCKTON, MASS.- Wood carvers from around the world take one of the world's oldest, most essential, everyday tools—the spoon—and create sculptural masterpieces of decorative art. A Taste for Spoons from the Collection of Nora and Norman Stevens features 90 of the nearly 300 nine inch spoons. Started by Norman Stevens back in 2005, this distinctive collection of 9 inch, carved wooden spoons has an exciting range of designs from the more traditional spoon shapes of neck and bowl—to spoons shaped like bullfrogs, faces, strawberries, eagles, and hearts. The exhibition highlights the various carving techniques, styles, and interests of a variety of wood carvers from almost every US state, several Canadian provinces, as well as 28 countries including Australia, Great Britain, Romania, and Sweden.

This collection also represents a stunning spectrum of wood species like ash, English boxwood, lilac, mesquite, persimmon, plum, sycamore, and many unusual woods.

The collection includes some long-time carvers who specialize in carving functional spoons as well as other well-known makers who do not specialize in spoons including: Michael Cullen, Mark Gardner, Dewey Garrett, Louise Hibbert, Peter Petrochko, Jamie Russell, Betty Scarpino, Mark Sfirri, Holly Tornheim, and Jacques Vesery. The work of Norm Sartorius, the country’s most distinguished spoon carver, will be represented by 9 pieces including a 9 inch teaspoon made of afzelia lay an exotic Southeast Asian wood.

This exhibition centers on the very personal story of one collector’s passion. The exhibition in some ways is as much about the impact of a devoted collector as it is a story about the magnificent spoons carved at his behest and through the forum he created.

When Norman Stevens began his 9 inch spoon collection in 2005, he and his wife already had a small collection of hand carved spoons many by Dan Dustin, a New Hampshire carver who introduced them to spoons in the early 1970s. He was attracted to spoons (1) because of their utility and the tactile experience of their feel in the hand and (2) because he admired the lifestyles of the wood carvers for their strong connection to wood, their earthiness, and self-sufficiency. The exhibit also includes an assortment of thirty-four bowls, ladles, spoons, and other kitchen utensils carved over a period of almost 20 years by New York carver Barry Gordon from a single cherry burl.

When that commission was concluded, Norman initiated a call to a dozen or more spoon carvers to create a 9” teaspoon for him. Thanks in large part to the Internet, and the help of some of the initial contributors, the collection rapidly expanded and Norman began to function as a spoon maker’s enthusiast and supporter. An exhibition at the American Association of Woodturners Gallery of Wood Art in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2009, and at the AAW Symposium that year also produced a catalog entitled Gathering of Spoons. Some of the collection was shown at a Spoon Gathering in Minnesota, and other pieces will be on display at the first Spoonfest in England in late August and others at a Woodturners Symposium in New Zealand in October. His book A Gathering of Spoons: the Design Gallery of the World’s Most Stunning Wooden Art Spoons (Linden $19.95) that features 200 of his spoons will be published in December of this year. Fuller Craft Museum is proud to host this blossoming craft “subculture.”

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