History of Lovespoons
Published by Fox Chapel Publishing Co. Inc., East Petersburg PA USA
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 168
No one who has ever seriously put a carving chisel to a piece of wood is likely to be ignorant of the Lovespoon. Woodcarvers all over the world recognise it as the traditional and infinitely varied token of love that their craft maintains, yet somehow re-invents with every generation.
But what of its history? That is rarely discussed in detail and is unknown to most.
David Western is regarded as one of the best contemporary carvers of the lovespoon and has made a study of its origins and development.
In this book, he reveals its centuries old story and examines the many individual motifs that may be seen in lovespoon designs and the way in which these should be interpreted.
Western's introduction to his book is concise and pithy. He says, in part: Long before bank-draining diamond rings and wallet-busting wedding dresses were the expectation, a young man would demonstrate his ardour, skills and tenacity for the girl who had captivated him through a virtuoso display of woodcarving.
The book begins with the Chapter for which it is named: The History of Lovespoons. Spread over these 16 pages are examples of the carving characteristics that trace the development of the lovespoon through many countries and many periods of social change.
The author then deals with some of the myths that have accompanied the lovespoon into our era before beginning to examine the symbols and decorations that are frequently embodied in their design.
It is in the next chapter that the various motifs that appear in the carved spoons are examined in detail. No doubt those who decide to own this book will find themselves taking it from the shelf whenever they encounter a design that is new to them!
These are a few of the notes appended to the lovespoon photos inthis chapter: vine theme indicates growth of relationship, pair of diamonds indicates wish for prosperity, three stars signify three battle stars won by recipient during WWII, raindrop shape (is) a symbo’l of longevity.
It's probably inevitable that a celebrated woodcarver would want to include a chapter on making a lovespoon. Chapter 5 is brief, but it covers the essentials of the craft, offering an opportunity to those whose enthusiasm has been fired by the discussion so far, to actually make one for themselves.
The remainder of the book is devoted to a gallery of contemporary lovespoons, each accompanied by at least descriptive notes and, in some instances, by more detailed comments.
The back cover promo describes the full page photos in this book as 'gorgeous'. It would be hard to disagree. But it is not, of course, the quality of the photos alone that is so attractive, it is the choice of subject.
Anyone interested in woodcarving should find the book both an enjoyable read and a valuable reference text.
Chapter 1: The History of Lovespoons
Chapter 2: Lovespoon Myths
Chapter 3: Symbols and Decorations
Chapter 4: Interpreting Lovespoons
Chapter 5: Making a Lovespoon
Chapter 6: Lovespoons Today - A Gallery