George Kelly Woodward Gardens
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From Scraps to Spoons

Sometimes our hobbies lead us to our next creative business venture. For Chapel Hill, North Caroline resident, George Kelly, he took a basic woodworking class to fulfill the goal of making a coffee table, and it led him to making spoons. But not just any spoons, scrap wood spoons.

“As any craft person knows, you wind up with leftover irregular shaped supplies that can be difficult to discard” says Kelly of Woodward Garden (see Issue 05 Clippe- recycling scrap metal). George cleverly turns the small irregular wooden pieces from his other wood projects into spoons and spreaders of all shapes and sizes.  “I made double ended spoons, tiny salt spoons and spoons with curves. I also made cheese spreaders, giant spreaders that I call “schmearers“, an homage to my New York upbringing (a bagel with schmear) and magic wands.”

George Kelly Woodward Gardens

George Kelly Woodward Gardens

INTERVIEW: George Kelly, Maker/Designer, Woodward Gardens {Chapel Hill}

01 How much time is involved in creating a spoon?
Not to be evasive, but the time varies.  Sometimes the wood scrap is telling you the shape and configuration and it flows easily from there.  Other times, I’ll be drawing something completely different, like a chair or a case, but another idea or solution will pop up and lead me in a different direction. I like to introduce an element of humor in my design but the finished product should perform its job.  I recently made a double ended salt spoon that can handle both table salt and sea salt flakes.  The shaft is wavy and sanded very smooth for a pleasant tactile experience.  Another cartoonish design is the schmearer. You could call it an industrial strength cream cheese spreader.  The chuckle evoking schmearer has a contrasting wood clad handle (walnut blade/paduak).  I had a brunch entertaining situation in mind when I decided to make it.

George Kelly Woodward Gardens

George Kelly Woodward Gardens

02 What type of wood do you typically work with?
I recently finished a Maloof inspired dining room chair made of walnut.  Therefore, many of my objects were made with walnut (scraps). I have also used scrap wood of sapele, cherry, oak, red grandis, maple, and ambrosia maple.  Walnut and sapele are very nice to work with.  They cut cooperatively and finish beautifully.

George Kelly Woodward Gardens

03 How many years have you been carving spoons?
About four years.

04 How many spoons do you make in a year?
As many as needed or that I have an interest in making. My object of making spoons is a hobby as well as a way of expressing myself.

George Kelly Woodward Gardens

05 Not so long ago, it was customary to use a specific spoon for a specific food/ingredient. Now it seems like cutlery collections have been reduced to two spoon sizes, large and small. What is your take on having a spoon for a specific purpose? Why is a hand carved spoon relevant today?
I repaired 35mm cameras for many years and I am a home owner as well as a woodworker. So I will sing the accolades of having just the right tool.  In earlier days, I used to have a table knife as a crew driver, but if you need to screw a lot of screws, then get a screw driver.  Get the tools that you most often need, hopefully they will perform multiple tasks, as well as the tools for which there is no alternative.

The word ‘relevant’ carries many meanings.  A hand carved spoon is just another choice to perform a job.  A hand carved spoon also fulfills the aesthetic desires of its owner.

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