*Pictured: the dozen (surviving) spoons I have made since 2004
In graduate school, my advisor once referred to the spoons I'd made as "my own private Idaho." I understood that to mean that I made them only for myself, although I recently learned that is also the name of a movie staring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
Anyway, I couldn't argue with her because it's true that I can't submit the spoons I've made to exhibitions; they aren't special enough. And I can't sell them either, partly because I don't want to part with them, but mostly because they take too long to make and people won't pay what I would have to charge. I don't blame them--I couldn't spend $75 or $100 on a single teaspoon.
I nonetheless feel compelled to continue making spoons, despite the material costs and time involved. I have felt guilty about doing it at times because it seems like I should be spending whatever studio time I have on "serious," or at least money-making, work.
Then, a couple weeks ago I decided to work on some self-portrait sketches while I watched TV in the evenings. That made me think about artists who have done hundreds or thousands of self-portraits over their careers. I've started to think that since I'm not really a 2-D artist at all, spoons are sort of like self-portraits for me.
They represent a simple and relatively uniform subject that can be interpreted in thousands of different ways. Making spoons by forging is difficult and though I've made many more than the ones pictured (the bad ones get scrapped) I still don't feel like I'm very good at it.
I know painters can exhibit their self-portraits and I'll most likely never have an exhibition of my spoons, but there's still something I want to learn about making them. And I keep thinking that someday, maybe I'll be glad I spent my time this way.