Photo courtersy of gaukartifact.com
Looking for some inspiration for a timber-related story for 14 February, I came upon pictures of some beautiful carved wooden spoons dating back to the 17th century.
Lovespoons have been around for some time and in the UK are most notably associated with Wales although they were also common in Scandinavia and parts of Eastern Europe. According to www.welsh-love-spoons, the earliest surviving Welsh example dates from around 1667: the oldest dated example in the world is from Germany and was made in 1664.
Spoons were symbolic of the intention to nurture, feed and cherish and were carved by men to express their intention to court a woman. Various symbols were used in the designs, including the obvious hearts as well as keys, horseshoes, diamonds and Celtic knotwork and, for sailors, ships and anchors. Intertwining hearts, twisted stems and double-bowl spoons all signified togetherness.
A little further down the line, if you reach the fifth year in your marriage or partnership (how cynical, Ed), it’s wood, representing strength and a solid relationship. So why not plant a tree together? Or do some woodland crafts or charcoal making? The more traditionally romantic among you may want to consider buying a beautiful object crafted from wood. One of our Twitter friends, John Evans, produces some exceptionally lovely pieces – check out www.distinctivehandmadeboxes.com.
Meanwhile, back in the woods, we find heartwood, or duramen, the hardest part of a tree’s timber. It is the dense, inner core of a tree’s trunk that has deadened and no longer carries water and nutrients like the younger, surrounding growth known as sapwood. The term heartwood simply refers to the central location of this type of wood and not to the fact that it is essential for the tree’s survival. Quite the opposite in fact: although heartwood gives a tree its strength, it can thrive with its heart completely decayed. Not all types of tree produce a clearly defined section of heartwood – two exceptions are beech and fir.
The picture below was taken of a deodar after a lower branch was removed but I am assured by team JPA that, disappointingly, not all heartwood is actually heart-shaped. Happy Valentine’s Day.