It all started the day I forgot to put a spoon in my lunch bag when I was working as an apprentice to a furniture maker. I took a piece of scrap wood and quickly shaped a spoon. I had majored in art and design at the University of Illinois, and wanted to create something both beautiful and functional, which led me to explore working with wood.
In 1978, following my apprenticeship, I worked in a canoe-seat factory in Maine. When I was laid off from my job, I wanted to work for myself. My home workshop was in the garage, and at 20 degrees below zero, it was too cold for glue to set so I could only make single piece products.
That is when I remembered spoons.
After trading spoons for food, and barely surviving, I found a sales representative who helped launch my business with a whopping $6000 of sales in my first year. In 1979 I moved back to my home state, Pennsylvania, which has a milder climate and a good supply of native hardwood, began making spoons and selling them. At my first national craft show, I underpriced my spoons and sold out my years’ production in the first hour of the show.
My spoons have developed over the years. Originally made of uncommon spoon woods such as lilac, plum, and honeysuckle, I have since chosen to make my spoons of cherry wood. This is a hardwood with handsome color and grain, durable, smooth, and strong. My utensils have a unique sense of balance and warmth because they are designed with the hand and purpose in mind. “Spoons” have become spatulas, tongs, spaghetti forks, spreaders, and more. Today I offer a natural cherry finish, a flame-blackened surface with a sanded edge to reveal an accent of warm cherry wood, as well as flame-blackened stripes and spots.
My work has been influenced by the world around me as well as a truth held within. I grew up surrounded by magnificent architecture and design in my hometown of Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. The Bryn Athyn Cathedral and several local mansions built near the turn of the 20th century hold fantastic examples of wood, tile, and stained glass work produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. This elegant simplicity of design is considered in the evolution of my work. My father encouraged me to establish my own business. He taught me that God’s creation operates from a principle of individual freedom, with power from God, given as if it is our own power, from which we freely create our own lives. This philosophy remains a major inspiration for me in creating and growing my work and business. My father also taught me that ideas come from the desire for, and activity of usefulness. In all of my work I strive for a balance of the use in the tactile and esthetic qualities, with the use of utility and purpose.
From the start-up days of producing spoons in a chilly workshop in Maine, Jonathan’s Spoons has grown into a successful craft business. I have a shop in rural Kempton, Pennsylvania with ten employees helping to meet the supply needs of my wholesale and retail customers. I exhibit my work at select craft shows around the country, to include the annual state show of the Pennsylvania Designer Craftsmen, American Craft Council shows, Paradise City shows, the Philadelphia Buyer’s Market, and the New York International Gift Show. A busy show schedule requires a lot of traveling; fortunately I am often accompanied by my lovely wife, Julia. Together, we find it rewarding to share in the offering of quality American made arts and crafts.
Most of my time is spent creating new products in my Kempton, Pennsylvania shop, traveling to craft shows with Julia, and fathering four beautiful daughters and one son.