Tuesday, August 14, 2012

People Still Make Stuff

A couple of weekends ago, DB~ and I met up with other members of my family at a resort about a 1/2 hour drive away from Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.  While there, we went to this little slice of Appalachia known as Evansville, West Virginia to a shop called Allegheny Treenware.  Allegheny Treenware makes handmade spoons and kitchen utensils out of cherry and hickory woods.

When we stopped in (you have to really keep your eyes open for the sign to it, off of West Virginia Route 50), we entered a little compound of buildings that had the sales shop, multiple garages/sheds, and the workshop.  You know you're not in the city when you get out of your car and see a deer skin tanning in one of the garages...with the bullet hole prominently on display.

Since we were "on tour", so to speak, a very personable young guy took a roughly 2 x 4 piece of cherry wood from a pile, traced a 10" spoon pattern on it, and made us a complementary spoon right there on the spot.  He used a series of bandsaws, belt sanders, and routers to get the spoon into its basic shape.  He then passed it off to two separate ladies.  The first "fine sanded" it perfectly smooth.  The second lady burned her initials and the type of spoon into the handle, then rubbed an oil over it to give it some hue.

The whole process, with all three (plus a fourth guy hanging around) talking to us while they worked, took about 8 minutes.  They then proceeded to say that on a typical day they can make 500 spoons or 300-400 more intricate items that they sell.  As you can see on their website, they have a whole host of other things besides just spoons.  While they do well at retail at this home location, the majority of their items are sold wholesale to craft markets throughout West Virginia like Tamarack.  They only do very limited numbers of weekend craft shows now after establishing their brand through 22 years of hard work.

We ended up buying other items in the shop, too, but I know DB~ and I will always remember how our 10" spoon came into being.  We like seeing things made right in front of us.  That's probably why we love our wooden fish from Tony in Jamaica so much.  We watched it from start to finish and got to see the craftsman work.

It seems nowadays that everything we buy is part of the manufacturing machine in China -- we're no better, as most of our Crate and Barrel stuff is from China, I presume.  But we do have All Clad cookware from the good ol' USA.  And now we have a spoon from West Virginia, too.

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