Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spoonfuls of Love

Everything is better in spades. Love is no exception! An old Welsh tradition of giving a special spoon to your sweetheart can be beautifully updated for a classic but unique Valentine's Day token of affection. The tradition dates back to the 1600s in Wales when suitors would present their young ladies with elaborately designed spoons, often ones that they designed and carved themselves out of wood. The symbol of the spoon hints at bounty, sensuality and generosity, making it an ideal icon for Valentine's Day.

In the February, 2005, issue of Martha Stewart Living, the tradition is alluded to with suggestions on how to present and embellish the spoons being given. The editors suggest having the words "I love you" engraved on the well of the spoon, or the initials of the couple (or a pair of hearts) engraved at the head of the handle. Antique spoons can be extraordinarily beautiful and can be found in various grades of precious metals, from solid gold to silver-plated. Ancestral spoons like this also add a touch of history to the occasion, making it extra special.

In the article from the 2005 issue, the editors suggest packaging the spoon in a box or tying a pair of them together with velvet ribbon, as shown below. Another engraving idea is to put the year the spoon was given and then add to the collection each year with a new, unique spoon.
These are examples of traditional Welsh love spoons, which would often have been whittled out of wood by hand by the suitor and then worn around the neck as a charm, or perhaps displayed in the home, by the object of his affection. The designs often depicted interwoven hearts or symbols of fertility, such as flowers and birds.My friends at the Beekman Farm (Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer Purcell) have their own beautifully designed tin spoons, made by hand by a local tinsmith in Sharon Springs, New York. I thought these would make gorgeous Valentine's Day gifts in the vein of this Welsh tradition. They are based on the Victorian design of a dessert spoon. When I visited the farm last year, I was so impressed by the weight and size of the spoons. They're quite substantial and beautifully made. They are $20 each and are handmade using an old-fashioned spoon mold.
Designs on the back of the spoon are subtle but elegant.

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