William Allen grew up in Ireland but came to London to study illustration at Camberwell Art College. Since then he has been based in south London. After a few years as a freelance illustrator he moved into graphic design and, when he's not making spoons, he's the design manager at the Barbican Centre.
Crafts and woodwork were important parts of William's childhood, but he rediscovered them again a while ago when he studied traditional, green woodworking skills. He started with chair making in the woods of Herefordshire and it was there that he met his first spoon carvers! When he came back to London he wanted to keep using the skills he’d picked up and spoon carving was a natural step. So now he helps run a Spoon Club in Stepney City Farm as part of the Greenwood Guild.
About the spoons
The spoons are made completely by hand with axes and knives and using traditional carving techniques. They start as a green wood (freshly cut) log, which is split by hand and the basic shape is axed out. Then sharp knives are used to create the finished shape. No sandpaper is used. Once the spoons are dry, they’re oiled with organic flaxseed (linseed) oil which is solvent-free and edible. Some spoons are decorated with traditional milk paint which is environmentally-safe, biodegradable, non-toxic and anti-bacterial.
A variety of woods is used to make the spoons. It’s all locally sourced from London’s green spaces and would otherwise be chipped or burned.
Cherry, alder, birch, sycamore and beech are the most common available, but occasionally I get some hawthorn or hazel.
Looking after your spoon
All of the spoons are pre-oiled and should last a lifetime.
The oil will protect the wood and your spoon will acquire a rich patina with age.
However, contact with highly-coloured food will stain the wood.
As with most wooden utensils, your spoon should be hand-washed and not left lying in water for too long. Definitely avoid dishwashers!