My name is Maryanne McGinn, and I grew up in London, UK. Although I always knew I was creative, I found myself in unfulfulling admin jobs for some years, so in my late twenties I decided to make a big change to my life and retrain in carpentry and joinery.
I really enjoyed developing the skills I acquired and focussing on the processes involved in construction, and after ten years I moved on to study furniture design. The cabinet I designed and made for my final college project was exhibited in London and purchased by Liberty London for their furniture showroom.
Following a move to Leicester with my family, I worked for the brain injury charity Headway, running a woodwork project. As part of a dedicated team I encouraged clients to re-learn motor skills, and devised ways to help them overcome the physical and mental challenges of their injuries. I made my first spoon here as a teaching aid.
During my thirteen years working with these vulnerable adults I experienced first-hand the importance of creative skills to mental well-being. I observed the rise in self-worth and the sense of achievement which results from practising skills and producing craft work.
I didn't return to the idea of making spoons seriously until I left my job in 2015 and was searching for a new direction. Knowing nothing of greenwood carving, I stumbled on it whilst looking for ideas online, and was fascinated to see people like Jarrod Dahl @jarrod_dahl and Lee Stoffer @leestoffer demonstrate their skills with an axe and sloyd knife.
I was inspired, and looking further I discovered a thriving community of green woodworkers on Instagram, as well as Spoonfest, held each year in Derbyshire UK, a welcoming and supportive gathering of spooncarvers and learners from around the world. This culture of sharing skills and ideas freely has brought about a resurgence in craft activity.
My own work has been influenced by the many other talented carvers I've come across, most notably Jogge Sundqvist @surolle, whose spoons are playful and have great immediacy, Anna Casserley @annacasserley, who displays elegance and crispness in her work, and Adam Hawker @adamhawker1, who is a master of precision and form. Discover their work on Instagram.
This journey began with my struggle to manipulate sharp
steel against wood and produce successful forms, and
now I'm delving into the decorative possibilities of spooncarving, all the while trying not to let this aspect submerge the final results or become the most important feature.
I carve my spoons out of wood mainly sourced from my local City Council Depot, from piles of logs destined for firewood. If I have a choice I prefer to use cherry or plum for their rich colour and markings, or sycamore or birch for the paleness and close grain which makes them so suitable for decorating. Other woods that come my way are happily experimented on.
You can follow the progress of my work since early 2016 on Instagram. and I plan to offer spoon carving tuition in Leicester in the future so contact me about this if you're interested or have any questions.
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© 2019 Maryanne McGinn.