Siwd Mae! If you know anything about Wales you would have surely heard about our famous lovespoons, not only a historical token of love but in our eyes, a modern symbol of strength and togetherness in a complicated world.
Welsh Love Spoons are a traditional symbol of love and affection that have been handed down from generation to generation in Wales. These hand-carved wooden spoons were originally given as gifts to sweethearts and were thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the recipient. The spoons were often carved with intricate designs and symbols that held special meaning to the giver and the recipient.
The history of Welsh Love Spoons are thought to have dated back to the 17th century when they were first made by young Welsh men who were looking to woo their sweethearts. As seen here, this spoon is an example of the oldest dated spoon held by Amgueddfa Cymru from 1667.
Credit; Amgueddfa Cymru
They would carve the spoons themselves, using their carving skills to create unique and beautiful designs that were personal to their relationship. The spoons were then presented to the women as tokens. They would typically be carved by the simplest of tools such as pocket knives, and from a single piece of wood, popular choices were sycamore, box and fruit woods.
Carvers have always felt free to carve their spoons however they feel fit, though mostly holding personal significance to the maker, over time, love spoons developed designs which are rich with symbolism and hold a variety of meanings.
Hearts- Seen frequently on Welsh lovespoons, this is clearly the symbol of love, a love spoon showing twin hearts might indicate a mutual love between sender and recipient
Double bowls- Lovespoons that are carved with two or more bowls can indicate the union of the souls when joined together, or the number of children desired.
Comma or paisley shape- Often visible on historic Welsh lovespoons, this shape is said to represent the soul and deep affection.
Balls in cage- These are thought to represent the number of children desired, but also a sign of a man held captive by his love
Chain links- Generally considered to indicate loyalty and faithfulness
Diamonds- Diamonds are believed to represent a wish for prosperity and good fortune and a promise to provide.
Keys and keyholes- Keys and keyholes can represent a home and security, or romatically a key to one's heart
Wheel- The Wheel symbol can represent a vow to work hard and to guide a loved one through life.
Today, Welsh Love Spoons are still made and given as gifts, but they are also sought after by collectors for their historical and cultural significance. They make a beautiful addition to any home décor and serve as a daily reminder of the love and affection shared between anyone.
In conclusion, Welsh Love Spoons are a timeless symbol of love and affection that have been passed down through generations in Wales. The intricate designs and symbols on these hand-carved wooden spoons hold special meaning for the giver and the recipient, making them a unique and meaningful gift that will be cherished for years to come.
There are many traditional makers of lovespoons working today as well as many modern interpretations of the token. Here are some of our favourite examples
"Angel Woodcraft was founded by Paul Curtis over 30 years ago in 1985.
When he was sixteen, after learning of his interest in wood carving and design, a good friend Ceris Williams took him to visit a highly acclaimed master craftsman called Gwyndaf Breese at St. Fagans National Museum of History near Cardiff.
Gwyndaf taught Paul how to make a Welsh love spoon and also told him the history of the love spoon. When he was leaving the museum, Gwyndaf encouraged Paul to make a spoon by kindly giving him some pieces of various hardwoods. With a piece of the hardwood, Paul made his first Welsh Love Spoon and gave it to Ceris, that was in 1983."
Credit; Angel Woodcraft
"Hayley Doroshenko is a welsh illustrator and designer currently living in North Wales. Her Ukrainian and Welsh background has a massive influence in her practice, with the use of bold colours and patterns reflect her love of folk art. Hayley graduated in 2018 with a BA in Illustration this is when she began her journey of becoming a small buisness owner, creating handmade contemporary welsh gifts."
We love her modern take on the traditional token, she hand paints each spoon with her own designs and commissions
Credit; Hayley Doroshenko
Alexander McQueen 2020 Fall/Winter Collection
"After a research trip to Wales, Burton and her team came across lovespoons..... Its incredible heritage and the skill it takes to design the embellished wooden spoons was reimagined throughout the Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2020 collection in red guipure lace, ivory guipure encrusted with black leather, and with entwining fil coupé jacquard hearts on silk taffeta and organza designs."
Credit; Savoir Flair
Max Pring makes jewellery and metalworks based on Welsh heritage
"I created the pendant entirely by hand using silver and copper wire. I started by making the spoon bowl using oval wire, cutting shaping into an oval and then carving to create the bowl. The handle is formed by copper wire twisted and shaped and soldered to the spoon bowl. The outer oval ring is shaped by hand then also soldered and hammered for texture."
Credit; The British Craft House
"With each spoon I design and carve, I aim to create a unique result that encapsulates the buyer’s heart, their soul. They’re like a life story, a timeline… but spoon shaped! The Lovespoon can represent so many emotions, experiences, milestones and desires; I love that I get to represent someone’s life with each stroke of my carving knife"
Credit; Ceini Spiller
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