Beautiful and useful: how a wooden spoon becomes an object of desire

Peter Coulter of Reclectica is an ex dentist, ex signwriter, now furniture maker and spoon carver. Peter has long had a fascination for green woodworking, but it wasn’t until a tree fell across his driveway that he took up spoon carving. He and wife Nicola are a full time designer-maker couple, running Coulter & Coulter, a homewares brand based in Hawkes Bay. Reclectica is Peter’s own furniture and woodworking project.

reclectica cover

What do you make?
Spoons, furniture, and the occasional bit of signwriting, all with a strong emphasis on using found and recycled materials.

How did you get into your craft?
I have always had a practical and artistic side which needs an outlet, so when Nicola started Coulter & Coulter it was inevitable that I would follow. Our ranges compliment each other and we make a great team.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not as such, I have a degree in dentistry and a certificate in signwork but enthusiasm, an inquisitive nature and a can-do attitude count for much more.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Timber and metal. I use predominantly hand tools and found materials which often dictates the process.

reclectica poplar

reclectica spoon carving

reclectica spoon trio

What inspires you?
People – artists, poets, songwriters, cooks and landscape gardeners. Also the world around me – the colours and shapes and patterns.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Plain, simple, useful. I also have a strong belief that the future lies with the small makers, the artisans and those like Felt that support and promote them.

Five words that describe your mind:
“I can see time” whispered Mogget. (yes I know that is six)

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Can I show you a photo of your table in my home?”

Describe your workspace:
Modest. I work out of a single car garage, and the space outside. So, a window at one end, a door at the other, tools on the wall and a bench down the middle.

I have a strong belief that the future lies with the small makers, the artisans and those like Felt that support and promote them.

reclectica workshop

reclectica workbench

reclectica knife

What are you currently listening to?
Spotify, so everything, but if I had to pick one song it would be Hell is Round the Corner by Tricky (which samples Glory Box by Portishead).

Recommend an album:
Dummy by Portishead – play it loud!

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin. I love words and at its heart the book deals with the magic inherent in language.

What are you reading now?
I usually have several books around me so – Plain Simple Useful: The Essence of Conran Style by Terence Conran, Spaces by Frankie Magazine and an ebook, Cre8tive Success by David Litwin.

Who is your hero/heroine?
I have several and each has taught me something different, so in no particular order… Nigel Slater, Dan Pearson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Terence Conran, Alphonse Mucha, Edward Catich, Andy Goldsworthy, Junior Kimbrough and Daniel Craig’s James Bond.


reclectica brushes

A favourite quote:
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, two cats Buffy and Ranna.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Follow your own path – be inspired but don’t copy, listen to advice but always make up your own mind, share freely what you know – and sign up to Instagram.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Probably an inch and a half Alongee pattern carving gouge by Ashley Isles. They are a small family company in England, their tools take a beautifully sharp edge and are a joy to use.

What’s in store for 2016?
Mostly trying to keep up with Nicola’s ideas! We have had a year off from craft fairs so time to get back out there, one maybe two pop-up shops, and I am learning to turn wooden bowls and plates on my foot powered pole lathe.

reclectica prize spoon

Peter has very generously offered one of his beautiful, functional spoons as a prize for one lucky Felt reader. Pictured above, this is a smaller-bowled general purpose cooking spoon (approx 29cm by 5cm), hand carved from locally foraged green poplar and finished with a food safe linseed oil and beeswax balm. A strong but light hardwood, poplar is an excellent timber for spoons. To be in to win, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Peter’s story and his creations. The draw will be made on Friday 25 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from Reclectica on Felt »


reclectica cooking spoon

13 thoughts on “Beautiful and useful: how a wooden spoon becomes an object of desire

  1. I’m so glad you saw the sign when that tree fell down! Your spoons look too beautiful to get food stains in the kitchen, but I bet they are sooo much nicer to use than the rubbishy ones I have. Beautifully handcrafted!

  2. Plain, simple and useful may well be the philosophy behind Peter’s work. But I would add that it is also both elegant and beautiful. It would be such an honour to have these in the kitchen.

  3. Having had a go at making a couple of rough wooden spoons a few months ago, with very wiggly (let’s call it “organic”) results, I can really appreciate the amount of skill that goes into making such beautifully shaped and finished spoons. Peter’s work and his dedication to the value of making and craftsmanship is an inspiration.

  4. True craftsmanship, these spoons are beautiful in their simplicity and functionality. I couldn’t agree more with your favorite quote –
    “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. You’ve insipred me to clean out my kitchen utensil drawer this weekend to make room for a few of these spoons.

  5. Such a great story – from dentist to spoon crafter. I love how the tree which barred your way ( and was most likely a pain in the bum at that particular point in time) helped you on your way. Yay the tree!

  6. How exciting to see people making a living making something they are passionate about. I love the spoons, wood is soo good in the kitchen and I use tools made of it whenever I can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *