Steve B., Police Detective, Massachusetts
“Barry is an excellent teacher and highly skilled maker and artisan. He has an artist’s eye and is patient, enthusiastic, has 30+ years experience as a spoonmaker and craftsperson and has extensive knowledge of the spoon making process and the craft field in general. During my two day introduction to the art and craft of spoonmaking I received a thorough grounding in the process of creating a wooden spoon and I’ve always considered it a gift and time very well spent learning a rewarding, satisfying craft. After two days with Barry and a completed spoon to take home and knowing that Barry’s advice and expertise is only a phone call or email away I felt confident in my ability to make a wooden spoon and have since made many spoons and utensils on my own.
“In our mass produced world the feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that I derive from being able to make a beautiful wooden spoon with my own hands and a few tools from a log, or chunk of wood and then to use it or present it as a gift is immeasurable and I have Barry to thank for that.
“Barry’s undivided attention and one-to-one student teacher ratio in a comfortable basement shop/ home environment with all the necessary equipment including informational handouts is very conducive to the learning process. We touched on all aspects of spoon making including the philosophy of craft, the most suitable species of tree/wood for spoons, sourcing, harvesting, preparing and storing wood, the importance of grain direction, the mechanics of spoonmaking including the proper and safe use of hand and power tools, sharpening, sanding/finishing and food safe protective coatings.
“In the nine years since I took the course I’ve continued to make spoons and utensils and as my technique has developed and progressed Barry has remained in contact and has been an invaluable resource and has always made himself available to answer any questions that might arise regarding all aspects of spoonmaking including wood species and coloring, new developments in tools and finishes, design, etc. and he freely offers his time, encouragement, advice and vast expertise.”
Dan D. Firefighter and Artist, Ontario Canada
“I became aware of Barry Gordon, and his work, through Woodwork magazine a number of years ago. I had been a woodcarver for over 20 years, but I had never attempted to carve a spoon and after seeing the examples of Barry’s magnificent carvings, I decided to sign up for one of his two day spoon carving classes.
“In the weeks leading up to the class, I was contacted by Barry via phone on a couple of occasions. We talked extensively about what my experience in woodworking was, what exactly it was that I wanted to work on, and how Barry could work with me to reach that goal. Before I even left my home in Canada for the drive to his workshop, we had mapped out a plan for exactly what it was I wanted to carve, and how it would fit in to the two days of classes. I found this very comforting and helpful because I had the chance to get to know Barry and there would be no surprises or time wasted when I arrived and we could get to work right away. He suggested a number of books that I should consider looking at that dealt with wood and woodworking in general.
“On my arrival, it was as if I had known Barry for years. His relaxed, yet confident demeanor immediately put me at ease as we started up our class. The way [he] handled the wood and how he moved effortlessly around his workshop made me realize that I was now working with a master. We started off with a discussion on the basics of design and the properties of wood.
“Our first project was a basic spatula type utensil, carved from one of Barry’s many patterns. It would serve as an introduction into the tools I would be working with as well as the techniques I would later use on a more complicated and refined spoon. Within an hour or so I felt comfortable enough to move on to a ‘one of a kind’ spoon. Barry carefully, and patiently, walked me through, step by step, the evolution of a spoon from a log, to a finished product. Before I knew it, I had a spoon in my hands, and day one had come to an end.
“On my second day, Barry left it up to me what I wanted to work on, and I decided on a combination of a demonstration by Barry, as well as some more ‘hands on’ work by me. Throughout the day I would alternate between being the observer, to the carver, which I found was an excellent way to learn.
“Over the course of the two days, which seemed to fly by, I was treated to the rare opportunity to work with a true American craftsman and artist. Barry’s style of instruction is so relaxed, subtle, and seemingly effortless, that it as if he’s not really your teacher at all, but an old friend helping you out with a project. On the other hand, the amount of knowledge I gained after the time spent with Barry was invaluable. In fact it wasn’t until the drive home when I reflected back on the class that I realized just how much ground we had covered.
“Within days of my return home I received and email and a phone call from Barry to follow up and touch base on anything I might have missed, or had question with. It was made very clear to me that just because my class was over, the lessons had not stopped. I was told to call or write at any time I needed advise or support from Barry, and I have certainly taken advantage of that.
“In the time that has passed, I have become good friends with Barry and he has visited my home. We have had many discussions on the phone about spoon making, woodworking, and the craft scene in general. And I still send the emails with questions, which he still quickly replies to.
“Since my class with Barry I have the confidence to work alone and I have carved many spoons to success, beyond my expectations. I will definitely be returning to take another class with Barry in the future.
“I would heartily advise anyone, regardless of their level of woodworking experience, to take a class with Barry. In this world it is a rare occasion when the opportunity arises to work beside a master artisan, someone who has dedicated decades to their craft. And when that opportunity arrives, jump at it. It is an experience you will not soon forget.”
Alan B., Opthamologist, New York
“I spent a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile weekend with Barry Gordon several years ago observing and practicing some of the techniques necessary to produce artistic spoons and other utensils. Not only did Barry actually demonstrate the techniques necessary to produce a beautiful spoon, he also discussed wood selection, drying, finishing and safety considerations. Certain parts of the process were real eye openers for me, because I was rather naive about the use of power tools in the process. That said, it is possible to make a beautiful spoon using hand tools alone, just don’t plan to make a living that way.”
Beth K., Draftsperson, Ohio
“I took a 2 day class with Barry a few years ago. Almost instantly we had a good working relationship. Barry is easy to get along with and was receptive to my preference of what I wanted to concentrate on and what I wasn’t that interested in.
“As a teacher Barry not only showed me better techniques on how to make a spoon but also introduced me to some different types of wood to use. We had an opportunity to go through Barry’s collection of spoons also and discuss the different styles and techniques. Even though my class was only 2 days, I came home with one standard wood utensil and 3 very unique spoons.
“Even after I returned home and did the final sanding and added the finish to my spoons, Barry offered to critique them for me at no charge. I took him up on that offer too; it was well worth the time and postage.
“Without any prompting Barry was generous enough to recommend me to a spoon collector he knew.”
Bob T., Printing Company Executive, Mississauga, Ontario
“I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the time I spent with Barry and his wife last year. He welcomed me into his home and the 2 days of teaching and learning were done in a personal and professional manner. As a result of the 2 days I spent with him, I was able to come home and proceed with making spoons, spreaders and salad sets that I have been able to sell at the market with the other things that I have made. I am anxious to have another day with him in the future since I now think I know some of my weaknesses and I am sure that he will be able to help me overcome them. Barry’s knowledge of trees, wood and the craft are exceptional and I value the time we spend together.”