Dan Dustin's spoons before, you've never seen anything like Dan Dustin's spoons (click here for slideshow). Holding one is like touching the warm heart of a tree. They are soft and supple and alive, and they will change your mind about spoons being at all banal. We are honored to have his spoons as the newest addition to Greenjeans.
Each wooden spoon that Dan Dustin makes begins with a walk in the New Hampshire woods. He says that the trees make the spoons and he just discovers them. But his method is a little more involved than that.
The best spoons reflect the natural curves formed in branches and trunks by a tree reaching for light. Dustin, who lives in Contoocook, NH, makes spoons from mountain laurel (known as spoonwood), lilac, and blueberry bushes, and apple and peach trees. (All of the spoons at Greenjeans are made of either laurel or lilac.) He finds an appropriate branch preferably from wood left behind from timber harvests, but sometimes from a standing tree. Then he splits, hews, and shaves the wood into the form of a spoon, allowing the grain and the feel of the wood to guide his cuts.
The spoon is then heated under beeswax and walnut oil to replace the sap, filling and hardening the wood. This makes the spoon very strong yet flexible, with a hard surface but yielding to the hand. Finally the spoon is rubbed with orange and walnut oils that he buys at his local health food store and mixes himself.
Dustin, whose work has been exhibited at New York's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, says that historically utensils made from pewter and silver have been more valued than wooden ones. But he believes he is helping change that. People value his spoons. "They not only collect them," he says, "but they travel with their favorite."
His work has inspired the novel Spoonwood by Ernest Herbert, about a man who retreats into the woods with his infant son and makes a living by carving wooden spoons with primitive tools. He is also the subject of a forthcoming graphic novel.