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Lost Knowledge - Hand Implements - The Silver Spoon

Updated on May 5, 2012

Call For The Need Of A Perfect Spoon

I once read an article entitled "Toward a New Appreciation of Craft" by Pam Grundy, published over on Eye On Life Magazine originally. The article is no longer available but her call for everyone to make their own perfect spoon struck a note that rang a gong in my mind. Since then I've been thinking a lot about her call for the need of a perfect spoon, because I'm very doubtful that the majority of people in America today have any idea where to start to make their perfect spoon -- given all of the lost knowledge floating around.

You see, it really bothers me that most people wouldn't have a clue as to how to even begin to make a spoon, or anything other most useful tool, that we all take for granted these days. If they can't go buy it, they would not be able to improvise, create, or reinvent. That has me thinking about all of the lost knowledge that several generations of people living today are lacking despite our modern times. That led me to wondering how many people contemplate what industrial design and design trends really mean.

The first spoon made by nature -a shell held in the hand.
The first spoon made by nature -a shell held in the hand.

Every manufactured article that man uses, from an airplane to a phone, owes its shape or form in part to the industrial designer. The glass you used this morning, the car that carried you to work or school, and the lamp you will turn out tonight when you go to bed -- all had to be designed.

Someone, at some point, had to plan or create their shapes or forms, decide upon the right materials to be used in making them and select the colors that would be most attractive and practical for each.

Industrial design means the planning and design of manufactured articles. Fountain pens, kitchen cabinets, railroad cars, television sets, cameras, cell phones, and toys -- all show the influence of the industrial designer's talent. Without his aid and imagination, our modern cars might sill look like a carriage on wheels and our lamps like a stick with a bulb at the end.

Works of art, such as paintings and sculptures are designed too, but with the aim of answering spiritual rather than practical needs. They are not made to serve a useful purpose in the sense that an ordinary mixing bowl fulfills a necessary function.

The design of every day articles is guided or should be guided by their uses. The chair which is uncomfortable or unsafe is a bad chair regardless of how much effort has been spent to give it an attractive or interesting appearance. Good design always combines efficiency with pleasant looks and touch.

The idea of design for use is as old as man himself. In the earlier days of human development, progress was indeed slow as compared with the advances of the last three hundred years.

The next step was to add a handle to the shell spoon.
The next step was to add a handle to the shell spoon.

What Every Caveman and Woman Knew

Nevertheless, the caveman who realized his chunk of flint could be used more comfortably and efficiently if the grasping end were shaped into a handle -- had, in a sense, become a designer.

On his next stone tool he may have fashioned consciously a suitable comfortable grip and gave the implement at the same time a more refined appearance. He was definitely making progress in the design field.

The ladle spoon has a deep bowl and the handle is scooped out.  Sometimes decoration was added.
The ladle spoon has a deep bowl and the handle is scooped out. Sometimes decoration was added.

The Ordinary Spoon

Some basic implements, such as the spoon, have changed their forms but little over thousands of years. Once the spoon with a handle was developed, the basic form could hardly be improved upon, though it might undergo variations.

The chief reason why the forms of such objects as spoons have changed so little through the ages is that man himself has not altered. The forms and proportions of the human body and the way it moves remain the same. Man's senses of sight and touch and his basic needs are not very different from what they were thousands of years ago.

So some of the things that early man made to increase the comfort and pleasure of living have needed comparatively little improvement. True, there have been changes in the way articles are made, and new materials have been introduced. However, attempts to change radically forms that have proved right and beautiful for their purposes from the very beginning are often doomed to failure.

Design for use is concerned not only with the form and color of an object, but also with the texture of its surface. Some art critics feel that surface treatment was at its best in the early days of civilization.

Then, man may have been guided in his choice of texture simply by his sense of touch, which told him when a smooth surface was right for one kind of article, a rough surface for another.

Early man did not adorn his pots and weapons just to make them handsome. Details of ornamentation had a deep meaning for him. Ornamentation sometimes served as a historical record when it told the story of a tribe or people -- picturing its legends and great events.

In this form, ornament was used not only on everyday utensils. At later states of civilization, ornamentation was used more and more for decorative purposes only.

Making A Spoon Out Of Wood Chops

Making A Spoon


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    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks Hello, hello!

      Thanks soumyasrajan!

      Thanks 2patricias!

      Thanks randslam!

      Thanks Ann Nonymous!

      Thanks robie2!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      8 years ago from Central New Jersey

      What a fabulous hub and I'm totally with you on Pam's articles over at Eye on Life-- awesome stuff

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Very fascinating and interesting hub, Jerilee! I never knew spoons could be so captivating... I admit I am very picky when it comes to spoons, but didn't know their history! Now I will appreciate all spoons and not descriminate them just because they don't suit my style! Great job!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      What an interesting hub! You always write so beautifully and make everything sound interesting even if it's just a spoon.

      Maybe I should not say just a spoon because spoons are indeed very useful. How else can we eat soup without the spoon?

      You know what, one of the things I learned as a child was to make spoons out of the husk of coconuts. That's how we were able to eat the flesh of young coconuts when we were out in the field and don't have spoons.

      Thanks for this hub Jerilee.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 

      8 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Excellent story about an everyday utensil. My mother use to collect small spoons from every place she went. I love the comment about people not knowing how to make a spoon if they were stranded or lost with only their wits to keep them alive. Great topic and pics.

    • 2patricias profile image


      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Very imaginative choice of subject, and well researched. Thank you for an interesting hub.

    • profile image


      8 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      A very interesting article and pictures Jerilee! Enjoyed it.

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      8 years ago

      Great article and videos. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Theank you for writing such an interesting hub. I enjoyed reading it.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks suziecat7! Collecting spoons is also a lost art.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great Hub - I used to collect old spoons particularly wooden ones. I've never seen a shell spoon but now I want one. Thanks.


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