Friday, April 27, 2007

Studio Visit: Dan Dustin, Spoon Maker

On March 28, 2007, Jae and I visited Dan Dustin, spoon maker, at his home and workshop in Contoocook, NH. It was a fun, stimulating evening, and Dan had recently learned that the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, selected four of his spoons to purchase for their permanent collection, which includes impressive holdings of work by New Hampshire artisans (and happens to be the place where Jae and I first met). Congratulations again, Dan!

Next to the dining room table is the spot where Dan gives finished spoons a final rubbing of oil. As soon as he finishes eating, he can turn in his chair and pick up work, remaining social all the while.

The Dustin's collection of Personal Eating Spoons stationed in the center of the kitchen table. Dinner with Dan and his wife Missy begins with selecting which spoon you'd like to use. They feel warm and well-suited for eating stew, and every bite becomes an aesthetic experience.

Dan has many other passions besides spoon-making. From time to time, he creates truly amazing pots from fruit rinds. In my hands is one made from a watermelon rind turned inside out. How he manages this feat is a mystery to me, but the result is one of the most remarkable objects I've ever held. In the background, a group of flutes under repair lay across his desk beside the music stand -- he's also an accomplished flautist.

Created in the same way as the watermelon pot, this is an orange peel pot freshly removed from the "kiln." After turning a whole orange peel painstakingly inside out, Dan puts it in his wood stove and covers it with ash to dry.

A true aesthete, at one point during our visit Dan notices how the light is casting on Jae. He says I should take a picture...
Downstairs in the studio/workshop, Jae selects spoons to bring back to Greenjeans. Dan reminds us that you don't pick the spoons, the spoons pick you, so we handle them and use our instincts to make selections.

When Dan was young, he would see objects like this in the workshops of "old timers," and wonder if he could ever work on a surface so much as to create such handprints of labor. Today, Dan uses this surface to carve against and split wood into spoons. I don't know the name for it, but this is his third.

Behind the work surface lies a pool of splinters from forming spoons.

During my last visit in late 2006, photographer Clive Russ was also there taking photographs of Dan and his work. This is downstairs in the studio/workshop.

Jae admires the finished products while Dan finishes more spoons.

Thank you, Dan and Missy, for your hospitality and for the marvelous visit!


Mary Anne Davis said...

I have been thinking a lot about spoons this weekend. Perfect for serving tapinade in a smallish dish. Nice post. Dan seems very cool. Lucky us you found him and are putting him the world. Thanks, Amy!

Anonymous said...

Another talent of Dan's is playing a shotgun, yes, a shotgun, as a musical instrument. A Contoocook neighbor.

Timanager said...

I enjoyed your post! I visited Dan in his cabin back in 1980… conditions were primitive and he liked it that way. His spoons were remarkable then - and I can only imagine they're even more special now.