Whittling: Carving Cutlery

Find out what Alex thought of his Whittling course!

Ages ago, my wife and I had booked ourselves on to a spoon whittling course. We’d bought the tickets months ahead, because these things are really popular these days. The same place we were doing it also had a “make your own picture frame” course and it had sold out before we’d had a chance to get tickets!

But as the fateful day approached, I started to worry a little bit. About being any good at it, maybe. About not learning quickly enough, perhaps. I guess it’s a bit weird going back to learning something new – as a grown-up you spend most of your time doing things you already know how to do.

It was a really eclectic group of people in the class, almost all of whom were new to the art. Our teacher, Catherine, took advantage of those first ten minutes when people were still arriving in dribs and drabs to show us some of the finished products she whittles for her own company. Smooth to the touch, they were gorgeous to handle, especially the little measuring spoons that she’d made to the exact spec for your tsps, dsps and tbses.

And then the whittling began. We were there for four hours, and a good thing we were as it’s not a speedy process. Especially if you’re trying to be a bit fancy, which I think we all were, and build in a little detail – like a rounded end or a tapered neck. Catherine encouraged us to take breaks regularly to stretch and walk about, as you’d find yourself focused so completely on your spoon that you hadn’t noticed 45 minutes had passed frowning and hunched in concentration with your tongue hanging out.

A few of the more enthusiastic among us whittled our fingers and thumbs by accident, so it was a good thing there was a wooden box full of plasters to hand. It pains me to look at that picture above, with the thumb hanging over the top of the spoon – if that gouging knife in his hand slips suddenly…

Conversation dulled as the time went by, apart from the odd remark from somebody about how quiet we all were. Everybody was taking this seriously.┬áBy the end everyone was both happy with their work and surprised by how tired they felt! In a week’s time we’ll get to sand down our rough-hewn spoons into as good a shape as they’ll ever achieve, and maybe they’ll make their way into our kitchen.

But I think the biggest thing I’ll remember is how much fun it is to learn something new. I might not carve again, but I’ll be making a point of doing something else I’ve never done before in the near future. Good for the brain, even if not for the skin on my hands!


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Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.