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Spoon Stories: Dan Dustin's organic spoons


Almost every August since the age of eight, I've gone to the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair in Sunapee State Park. At first, I visited with my summer camp, a treat for all of us girls though we had to wear our humiliatingly unattractive camp uniforms (yellow shirts, green shorts) that made us as inconspicuous as circus clowns.

Even after summer camp, I returned to the Fair as a college student and then as an adult -- in outfits of my own choosing -- with friends or with my husband Ted. By that time, I'd gotten to know many of the artisans whose work I collected, potters mostly but also some jewelers and textile artists.

One year, at least 25 years ago, I bought my first spoon from master carver Dan Dustin. And, over the years, I've purchased at least one spoon from Dan every August, at the Fair.

If I gave an award for the most sensuous spoons in my large collection, Dan's spoons would win, hands down. These one-of-a-kind spoons, large and small, spring from the shape of the tree, embracing the grain of the wood, the knots and imperfections.


When you purchase one of Dan's spoons, you really need to try it on, just as you'd try on a pair of shoes. The spoons choose you; if the spoon is right for you, the handle will snuggle into the curves of your fingers, and the weight will feel balanced in your palm.




Can you spot the spoon that's a quarter of a century old?

Dan sells his spoons directly from his studio in Contoocook, New Hampshire, or at the Fair every August. That's where I buy them, at his popular booth that's always crowded with fans of his work. People come from all around the country to choose a spoon, and to listen to his spoon stories.

Though I don't see the girls at Dan's booth, some years I spot a few yellow shirts with green shorts wandering around the Fair. The spoons cost a bit more than the average camp girl's allowance, but those girls will grow up and have kitchens of their own, and I know they'll come back to the Fair to buy their first spoon.

I know, because that's what I did.

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Sweet! Those photos make me want to put the spoons in my hand after I stroke the silky wood.

How I love these gorgeous spoons! Is it the top middle one that's 25 years old?

I have been to his booth at that craft fair- my husband and parents eventually just left me behind because I was taking so long perusing the spoons. I didn't get one on that visit because it would have taken me hours to make a decision - but I vowed to return with time to spare and no family members!

I'm guessing the third one from the bottom, but I'm really not sure. ;-) They are all gorgeous and I bet it's a treat to choose one that's right for you. I love using wooden spoons. Even though I have a KitchenAid stand mixer and hand mixer, I rarely use them. I just mix with my wooden spoons. One is my favorite for the task, but all will do. If I ever make it to that fair, I'm going to by one of Dan Dustin's spooons for sure! Thanks for the intro and sharing more of your lovely spoons, Lydia. :-)


This post was a joy to read! What extraordinary craftsmanship. The spoons are so sensual, such a delight in our age of mass production.

Oh, this was lovely and painful at the same time - how can you look at those spoons and not want one? "The spoons choose you" sounds so deeply magical, and reminds me of the Ollivander wands in the Harry Potter books. I have to figure out a way to get there....

My guess is the bottom spoon, because it looks as if it has been handled many times. (And how scary is it that I thought, "twenty-five years? That's not so long!")

Susan, the spoons are irresistibly sensuous, and I honestly think that makes my cooking better.

Kalyn, I'll tell, but later.

Carol, I know exactly what you mean. I usually head for Dan's booth first, and let whoever I'm with scope out the rest of the fair while I'm choosing my spoon.

Shirley, I have twice as many of Dan's spoons as I'm showing you here, if you can imagine. I love them all, and love to use them.

Deb, no two are even remotely the same, and I'm sure that's part of what I love about them.

Judy, I'm giggling because I also have a wand from Ollivander's, by way of Orlando -- a gift chosen for me by my husband and granddaughter. Though I've tried to make it work, it doesn't do half of what these wooden spoons can do!

Loved this!! My Granny who lived to be well over 90 never used anything but wooden spoons and her hands. She said she was born with those beautiful hands and God gave talent to those craftsmen that carved out the spoons. She had a delux Kitchen Aid in the box in her closet. At her death we realized that the staples were still in the box! I, too use my spoons more than anything. My Kitchen Aid only comes out on big heavy duty jobs. I guess the top spoon in the 3rd picture.

Pat, what an amazing story. I don't use my KitchenAid often, but I do use it for big baking jobs. I use my wooden spoons all the time, and good, sharp knives. And, yes, my hands, too.

These are all beautiful - I could see myself buying many if given the opportunity (which probably explains why I have a "spontaneous" collection of wooden rolling pins already!).

What a sweet memory and story. Thank you for sharing.

I went to the fair for the first time this August and had a blast. I bought a hand decorated pie plate and a beautiful wooden salad bowl. Your spoons are amazing, I'll have to look for them next year. I love how you describe 'trying then on'.

TW, I can see how you'd enjoy collecting rolling pins. I don't even bake, and I have three or four. I have well over 200 wooden spoons and wooden cooking tools.

EB, I'm glad you enjoy my spoon stories. I have more!

Sue, isn't it a wonderful fair? I used to go to many craft fairs, but I'm more into deaccessioning at this point in life. Except for Dan's spoons, of which I'll never have enough.

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