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Way back in the day, I used to collect spoons. Yes, spoons.
It all started when I was 11 years old, and my then–21-year-old sister had gone on a trip to Paris. As a souvenir, she brought me back a spoon. And like an 11 year old brat, my reaction was something like, “A SPOON?? WHAT A LAME GIFT! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH A SPOON.”
But, after getting over my initial bratty disappointment, the spoon spawned a collection hobby over the course of 10+ years. Everytime I traveled, whether with my family or by myself, I bought a spoon. Pretty soon, my spoon racks at childhood home were packed to the gills.
I stopped collecting spoons sometime in the 2002 range. I started traveling to more diverse destinations, and spoons weren’t always available in gift shops. Plus, I learned the value of buying locally made souvenirs, or souvenirs with some cultural meaning. (Although I still like to buy my Christmas ornaments!)
But, that still left all my old spoons. Still sitting in their display racks at my dad’s house. I wanted to keep the spoons. And I liked the idea of displaying them in our house now instead of my dad’s. But I wanted to figure out a more modern way of displaying them. Plus, I thought that the racks always looked too cluttered:
Plus, some of the spoons were too “fat” and couldn’t even fit in the slots. So, they just kinda laid at the bottom of the rack.
A little old fashioned, no?
So, after considering many different options for displaying my spoons, I kept coming back to this image as inspiration that I found via Pinterest. I really liked the display option. Clean, modern, uncluttered.
But, unfortunately the photo was sorely lacking in any sort of explanation or tutorial about how the spoons were mounted. After trying many different solutions (all of which failed), I settled on plain old hot glue. (I’ll talk more about my experimentation with different materials at the very end of the post).
First, I bought some shadowboxes. After many MANY trips to places like Michael’s and AC Moore, I concluded that A) Pretty much every shadowbox was poor quality. B) Despite being poor quality, large shadowboxes were still quite expensive, even when using Michael’s regularly-offered coupons. C) And finally, even ignoring the quality and cost, I couldn’t find a shadowbox in a wide enough size that I was hoping for.
So, I ordered a custom size shadowbox from PictureFrames.com, and I was really pleased with the quality. They weren’t exactly cheap, but they were exactly the dimensions that I wanted, they cut a high quality mat precisely to size, and the frame and glass were great quality.
In case anyone is looking to get something similar, this is what I ordered:
- Shadowbox with outside dimensions of 39×10.
- White Custom Suede Mat
First, I laid out the spoons on the white suede mat until I found an arrangement that I liked. I staggered the spoons from the approximate middle of the matboard, which I thought looked nice considering that they vary so much in side.
Next up, it was time to hot glue the spoons to the mat. Using the tiniest dabs of hot glue that I could manage, I put a dab on the “most convex” part of the spoon (is that a thing?). Basically the back of the spoon that has the most surface area that would touch the mat. Then I also put a tiny dab of glue on the top of the spoon. This part was really tricky for some of the spoons that had dangling ornaments in that area.
I repeated the process for each spoon, until all the spoons were glued to the matboard. Then came the process of cleaning up all the little hot glue boogers and strings. This was fairly tedious, looking for mostly translucent pieces of glue against a white background. I had the most success when I pointed an adjustable floor lamp directly at the matboard. The hot glue strings would create shadows on the matboard, and I was able to clean off even the less obvious pieces.
Then, I just let the spoons sit and dry on the matboard for about 24 hours. After 24 hours, I leaned the matboard up against the wall for another 24 hours to test that the spoons were glued strongly enough to the matboard that they wouldn’t fall down when hanging vertically. After 24 hours and no falls while leaning vertically, it was time to put them in their shadowboxes.
I bought two total shadowboxes, which are at different spots around the house now. Here’s one leaning on a ledge shelf in our basement. Pretty snazzy!
And much better than the old display, don’t you think?
How I decided what materials to use
This project took me FOREVER to finally implement. Mostly because of how many options I mulled to mount the spoons.
In the inspiration image that I shared, it looked like the spoons were mounted using some sort of clips. Well, after searching high and low, I did finally find and order something that looked similar. Unfortunately, the clips were way too big for most of the spoons that were narrow.
Back to the drawing board. Then I considered “threading” the spoons to the matboard. In other words, taking a needle threded with some wire or fishing line, and adhering the spoons to the matboard that way. Well, it was extremely difficult to “tie” the spoons tightly enough to the matboard without bending or warping it. Plus, after threading just a few spoons, I could tell that it would be very time intensive to do it for the 100 spoons that I had!
Next, I tried an option that I hadn’t been crazy about … hot glue. I was so afraid of permanently damaging my spoons. Or, if I ever wanted to disassemble the frames, bending or ruining the spoons if I tried to remove them from the matboard.
So, what I did was I looked for a spoon that didn’t have much sentimental value. It was from a location I had never visited, and had probably been given by a family friend who had gone on vacation somewhere. I couldn’t even remember who would have given it, so clearly there was no sentimental connection to the spoon. I used some hot glue and glued that spoon to a scrap piece of matboard. And, I let it dry. A few days later, I was able to easily “snap” the spoon off the matboard. Yes, it ruined the matboard, but not the spoon. And, I was also easily able to scrape off the hot glue on the back of the spoon without damaging it or bending it. I tried it for all the other remaining spoon materials, like the pewter spoons too. Zero damage to the spoons, all very easy to remove.
So, I was sold. No, I don’t know if there might be very long term damage thanks to the hot glue, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take to put my spoons on display!