In the Romanian region of Sighisoara, spoon maker Mark Tudose is the living paradigm of how creating things by hand can ground a person and grant a clearer perspective on life’s qualities by restoring the mind’s connection to the tangible world.
Mark is better known as ‘The Spoonman’ who chooses to craft traditional wooden spoons manually rather than using his tireless advanced machinery. The age-old technique that has been passed down to him by his grandfather, continues to live on through Mark’s enthusiasm and diligence to making objects with honesty. A far cry from the low quality pre-fabricated spoons one finds at souvenir shops, Mark’s carvings celebrate the human touch and the element of ‘imperfection’ that distinguishes humans from automated machines.
“Doing a thing out of pleasure and passion doesn’t feel like work no matter how much time you invest in it. You just do it, and if you get some material things out of it as a benefit then that’s beautiful.”
The tradition of wooden spoons is associated with folk art and dates back to the 17th century, and even before that, in Eastern Europe. Each region would produce its own characteristic style with intricately carved symbols. The adornments observed on the spoons contain different messages and were used to tell stories to the knowing eye. As the spoon is one of the least aggressive utensils, it’s associated with nourishment and by pouring love into its morphing, Mark continues the cycle of uncomplicated and instinctive caring.
Objects lacking a narrative are either unfinished or incomplete according to Mark who considers his spoons as vessels for stories and telltales of craftsmanship. These meticulously crafted items are closely related to his world view and the way he chooses to go about his life.
“In life you will always have doors that will open, the important thing is to have the courage to take that step to walk towards them. The thing that keeps me at high level is my enthusiasm. As long as I still have it, I will be able to live with passion and focus on what I’m doing at every present moment.”