It’s one of the most functional pieces of equipment in the kitchen, and yet, it often goes unnoticed.
In a Beaufort workshop, the humble wooden spoon is getting an upgrade. Hewn from trees felled by Hurricane Matthew or from the offcuts (the throw-away pieces) from other woodworking endeavors, these ornate and sturdy spoons are now getting more attention at various juried artisan shows in the southeast — including the Flowertown Festival, which features more than 200 juried artists.
Offcutart artist and owner Jeff Johnson will bring his upcycled, upscale spoons to Summerville’s premier festival this April.
The average cost to remodel a kitchen is more than $20,000, according to HomeAdvisor.com. Johnson said you could go a long way toward upgrading your kitchen with one of his decorative and functional spoons. The $45-$50 spoons come with a hanger to display them, and an all-natural wax to keep them looking sharp.
“You put that on your counter and people say, ‘Man, that’s cool where’d you get it?’” Johnson said. “One of my goals is when a mother buys a spoon today and, 30 or 40 years from now, when she goes into a nursing home her son or daughter says, ‘Mom, I want those spoons.’”
Johnson said he has a 9-year-old spoon that is used at least twice a week and it still shines in his kitchen. The spoons are entirely hand-carved using walnut, hickory, maple or cherry. Johnson said he makes a “thinner than normal” handle that is strengthened with an overlay of exotic wood like purple heart, yellow heart or osage orange. The wood grains in different directions strengthens the handle and the close-grain woods that he uses resists wear and tear, and staining, Johnson said.
Johnson offered this advice for customers visiting his booth:
“Don’t buy it by looks, grab it by the handle and see how it fits in your hand,” he said.
Johnson began making spoons before he moved to Beaufort from Columbus, Ohio. The former software engineer was drawn to the palpable qualities woodworking, so missing in his electron-based 9-5.
“When you were done, there was something you can actually put your hands on,” Johnson said. “You need something that when you’re done you can hold in your hands. When the power goes off, you still got it.”
When he retired, he made furniture at first. But his children were short on room to accommodate large pieces, and Johnson pivoted to spoon making.
At the festival, Johnson will also have rustic picture frames made from pieces of dock destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.