Up to now with my carving, my design process has mostly been led by the wood. When I have longer blanks, I make cooking spoons. If I have a thicker blank, I aim for a scoop. With shorter, scrappier blanks, I carve eating spoons, or spoons for children.
Similarly, the spoons I have carved up to now have varied in profile, bowl shape and handle design. The wood might dictate this, or how I feel, or which is the latest spoon I’ve seen on social media. I also enjoy the process of exploring different shapes; it’s a way of finding out which designs suit me, my toolkit and my carving style the best.
All this means that if you look at my spoons on social media, or if you come across my stall at a market, you’ll see quite a range of different spoons. Of course, there are categories… eating spoons, cooking spoons, small spoons, but within these divisions, no two spoons are the same.
“What would you use this for?”
I’ve heard this question so often! It’s easy to feel flippantly dismissive…
It’s a spoon! What do you think you use it for???
But I realise now that the confusion is down to what seems to be a need for guidance. Customers want to be told how to use a spoon. They want to be told the use of the spoon through the name. They need the labels: Salad servers, eating spoons, teaspoons, serving spoons, baby/child spoons, scoops. On top of that, I think that they might feel more confident in negotiating their way around my stock if they could more easily see patterns of similarity within the different categories.
So, it seems to me that the customer would benefit from seeing some consistency in shapes; I think it might make it easier for a customer to decide what they need. It may also make the online shopping experience clearer. Originally my online shop was stocked with many spoons – all of different shapes and sizes. A potential customer scrolled through them all, and decided on a purchase based on minor differences in shape, or wood. Wouldn’t it be easier to go to an online shop and just choose to buy an eating spoon, or a coffee scoop? To click on a button and know that you’re buying a spoon of a standard design?
I’ve aspired to this for a while – to repeating a spoon in size and shape. Part of my business strategy is to get some standard product designs and update the website with them. Something has held me back though. I think that part of my reluctance was the need to find a design that I really liked. A design that was pleasing to the eye, to the hand and that has true functionality. I also worried that repeating one shape might become dull.
Introducing The Scoop!
The planets aligned for me this past week. Last weekend I carved a scoop that I really liked. Then I split open some maple and axed several scoop shaped billets. Next, I had a request for two coffee scoops. The result was that I carved scoop after scoop after scoop.
I ended up with several scoops that looked reasonably similar, with consistent bowl shapes and handle lengths. Excitingly, I ended up with the knowledge that I could do this. And more importantly, I found that there is actually a real joy in repeating a design. Even with the intention of making a copy of a design, the wood is always unique. This leads to different aspects of the shape being more challenging, or surprising. And even within the constraints of a “standard” design, there is space for change and evolution. Minor tweaks based on aesthetics, or the vagaries of the wood, can become embedded into subsequent carves.
So I’ve updated my website. I’ve added a “scoop” product. I’ve made the next step on my journey. And it feels good.