Thursday, June 21, 2012

Norm Sartorius—Spoon Maker Extraordinaire

Six times a year I write “The Great American Woodworker” column for American Woodworker magazine —which means I get to interview six truly unique, talented woodworkers every year. For my next few blogs, I’m going to briefly introduce you to a few of these amazing woodworkers.

Norm Sartorius in his shop
Today you get to meet spoonmaker, Norm Sartorius. Though his area of expertise may seem quirky, it’s served him well. He’s been able to make a living plying his specialty craft for over 30 years and currently has spoons in the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, The Smithsonian, the Carnegie Museum of Art and dozens of other private collections and galleries. Some of his spoons sell for as much as $4,000.
         One of the reasons he loves making spoons is that the design possibilities are endless—his work will attest to this. During the interview Norm explained, “Spoons are an infinite category. You can make thousands of them and no two are the same. I still have fun making each one.”

Spoon made from Paela Burl (photo by Jim Osborn)
He’s used woods from a tree planted by George Washington, from the famed. fallen Wyatt Tree, and from woods that people from around the world have sent him. He’s used 5,000-year-old river gum, exotic amboyna burl and mystery woods found in the desert.

Spoon crafted from cocobolo wood
In most cases he lets the shape and grain of the wood determine the size and shape of the spoon he’ll craft from it. Once the wood speaks to him, he does the initial roughing out using bandsaws, die grinders and pneumatic sanding drums, then switches over to scrapers of every shape and size (dental picks included) and sandpaper.
His spoons aren’t for stirring soup, but rather to “stir the soul.” See what you think. To see more of his work, visit  Norm's website

Spoon crafted for folksinger Pete Seeger. "Art or not, Pete told me he was going to use it," explains Norm.

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