Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Standing Spoons

The day I spent in Lanesboro started with the Rhubarb Festival and pie contest and only continued to get better.  After the festival my mom and I walked around town window shopping.  Much to my delight, I stumbled upon a unique wooden spoon store.  If you had been there you would have seen stars in my eyes, I was sooooo excited.  It was like being a kid in a candy store, only way better. It was love at first sight.  Here's the window view from the sidewalk.

Inside the store I saw the woman who judged the pie contest and found out her husband, Frank Wright, owns the store.  He hand carves each piece in his workshop at the back of the store.  My eyes scanned the shop jumping from spoon to spoon.  Each was a unique work of art with a story of its own.

 A good wooden spoon is hard to find, there's just nothing like it.  The way the handle feels in your hand, the weight and balance between the handle and bowl, the cool, smooth feel of the wood against your skin, the shape and depth of the bowl, the color and patterns in the wood.  Each feature is unique yet gives purpose, much like people.  Never have I seen so many unique and beautiful spoons.  Even the store itself was full of character.  Oh, if only these spoons could speak.

Frank's signature piece is the standing spoon.  Some bend and sway with a gentle curve while others stand upright.  In addition to standing spoons he also carves spatulas, spreaders, scoops and other various stirrers and utensils.

Look at the wavy handles above and the little dog spoon below. 

I loved how the spoons were displayed, they seemed to come to life and dance on each shelf. See how he artfully left the dust on the glass jar? It reminded me how long a good wooden spoon lasts.  My favorite wooden spoon at home is the same one I've been using for over twenty years.  Well, now I have a few new favorites, but you get the idea. Frank reminded us that the story of a wooden spoon starts with the life of the tree.  Perhaps someone planted the tree and countless children climbed its branches.  Eventually the wood from the tree reaches the hands of the woodcrafter (Frank gathers most of his own wood). Careful thought, time and effort is put into each spoon and its unique design.  The next chapter begins with the spoon user.  Loving hands can use it to cook for friends and family, stir up a batch of warm cookies or prepare a meal for someone in need. Just think of all the things you can make with a wooden spoon!  Each dish it stirs has a story to tell, adding to the life of the spoon.  Like many good things, wooden spoons improve with time and use.

Frank was kind enough to explain the story behind several of his designs and their names.  In the second photo of this post you may have noticed the rooster-shaped stirrers hanging on the wall.  He came up with this concept when a friend asked for a utensil to stir a roux.  A roux, pronounced as the "roo" in rooster, is a mixture of fat and flour stirred and cooked together and used to thicken sauces.  Get it? Rooster...roux stirrer.  So creative!  It's probably a good thing my camera battery was dying or I would have taken a picture of everything.  I did spend quite a while picking out what to buy.  

While I picked up spoon after spoon trying to decide on just a few, I learned that Frank also carves chopsticks.  During the rhubarb festival we played a game using wooden chopsticks to transfer chopped rhubarb between pie plates.  Who would have guessed that the chopsticks I used in the game were the very ones he had carved?  I didn't get a pair this time, but you can be sure I will be back to his store.  I think I could have spent all day in there. 

Frank is a talented yet humble artist.  It wasn't until after I left the store that I found out he is also the town expert on rhubarb.  Little did I know that he and his wife, Peggy, (the Rhubarb Sister who judged the pie contest) are known as the "rhubarb couple".  Frank has over 100 rhubarb plants along with a wealth of knowledge. The rhubarb stalks above were sitting in the store during the festival. I have a feeling he has a lot of other wisdom on life to share. He seemed to be the type of person who learns from every life experience and willingly shares it with others.  A treasure of rich character, much like a good wooden spoon.

Frank's character rubs off on the spoons, the store and his business practices.  This summer many stores in Lanesboro are participating in "Sunday After Hours".  This business initiative features deals and discounts to foster growth and community of the downtown experience.  Instead of discounts Frank has decided on "Good Deals for Good Deeds"  He is offering a free pair of handmade chopsticks or a homegrown rhubarb plant in exchange for a pledge to do a good deed.  Customers write down their good deed and post it to the workshop window above the chopstick display.

I was also surprised when it came time to buy our spoons.  Our purchases would have taken the remainder of our cash leaving us unable to do much else in town.  Without hesitation Frank told us to just mail him a check when we got home.  It's rare these days to find such trust and goodwill.  Thankfully, he hasn't had much of a problem with receiving checks as thieves aren't usually the type looking for a good wooden spoon.

Here are some pictures of the spoons I finally decided on. The larger one is made of walnut and the smaller of maple.

 I love the dark wood on the larger spoon and being a lefty, I couldn't resist that it was one of the few that bent to the left.

The colors and patterns in the smaller spoon also caught my attention.

 I'm sure you'll see these spoons in many of the future photos here.  I can't wait to add to their story, who knows what all they will be used for in the years to come!

Finding this store completely made my day, I was excited beyond words.  If you're anywhere near Lanesboro, MN be sure to look up Frank Wright and stop in for some spoons.  Exquisite work, rich character and playful creativity, this is a spot you don't want to miss. Today's Food for Thought comes from a poster Frank had up in his store.

Food for Thought: "Love is the greatest virtue of the heart. Sincerity is the greatest virtue of the mind. Determination is the greatest virtue of the will. Courage is the greatest virtue of the spirit." - Frank Lloyd Wright


  1. Where is this store located and do they have a website where I could buy these spoons? I love the unique patterns

    1. Hi Misty, Frank's store is in Lanseboro, Minnesota. It's on Coffee Street, just ask anyone in town and they can point you in the right direction. I don't believe he has a website, but if you email me at triedinblue@gmail.com I'll see if I can get some more info to you that way.