Carving Out a Legacy

The Work of Dawson Moore

More and more, we have an interest in where the things we buy came from.

We want to know who made them.

That’s now the case with everything from food to furniture.

9 & 10’s Charlie Tinker met up with a local helping to lead that charge with objects you use every single day.

“There’s a sense of magic about having an idea in your head and being able to just make it a reality. That’s what really gets me going about it.”

Turning ideas into usable items… and it couldn’t start any closer to home for Dawson Moore.

“It’s just fun,” explains Moore. “It’s more fun for me and more connected to go out onto our back 40 and get my own wood… it’s a way to keep things local and you really can’t learn about woodworking any better than working it from the tree.”

Moore’s passion for woodworking developed early in life but that fascination with furniture – has since evolved into so much more.

“What do people say to you about this? Maybe your friends, your family, thinking about you taking this up and obviously being pretty good at it?”

“It was questionable at first when i claimed that i wanted to carve spoons for a living,” began Moore. “But the proof is in the pudding.”

Festooning the walls of Moore’s Harbor Springs workshop — the tools of his trade haven’t changed much over the centuries.

Some of which either no longer exist or are so hard to acquire – Moore blacksmiths them with his own two hands.

“People when they see it at first chopping they think it’s going to take me forever. Working it from the log like this, there isn’t a much better way to do it than with the ax.”

Carving just one spoon by hand takes about 30 minutes.

“I’m not opposed to power tools or strict about it,” noted Moore. “At first it seems less efficient or slower, but you couldn’t really do it faster any way even with modern tools. It’s not just being stubborn or something like that. There’s actual value in these things.”

The tools may date back to antiquity – and the method does as well.

Moore’s influences come from the far reaches of Northern Europe — specifically Scandinavia — where a select few continuously practice the art of Sloyd – or woodcraft.

“The first spoons were done in California. In San Diego… Very surprised i even stuck with it to be honest. Hours and hours spread over several days.”

You may wonder – why wood when metal cutlery is not only readily available but far cheaper?

“Just as you said, you form a connection with these objects even from the tree. Is that what you want your clients to get out of this as well?”

“It’s important to me that it shows my hand and doesn’t look machine-made,” Moore explained. “There’s a story behind it. Most people are buying it from me in person, watching me carve it. For them, i think there’s meaning behind it.”

From Moore’s very first cutlery creations – to what you’ll find for sale today, including some of his more involved commissions….

It’s certainly a labor of love – and one that’s since become his livelihood.

But as Moore will tell you, there’s always something new to be learned.

“There’s just something special about it. It’s quiet, you can kind of have your own special bowl or plate or spoon or cup. .. You get to see it change over time.”

For more information on Dawson Moore, click here.

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