Melanie Abrantes Designs

During the lockdowns of 2020, sourdough became a “thing.” Jam making experienced a rise. Handwritten letters were popular again. Forced to slow down, many people rediscovered the joy of creating things with their hands.

As filmmakers with no films to make, we too fed our starters and bulked up our pantries. We also looked for ways to create that went beyond the screen. Inspired by a book found at a local Japanese hardware store, we started carving spoons. The author of that book: an Oakland-based craftswoman named Melanie Abrantes.

Quarantine Carving

Melanie Abrantes works her magic from a cozy workshop nestled amongst the railyards, cranes, and steel factories of the Jack London Square waterfront. Her tools: beautifully simple Japanese knives, gouges and rasps. With these tools she transforms raw blocks of walnut, cherry, and beech into beautiful objects for everyday use: from vases to spatulas to combs.

During the pandemic, she began offering donation-based spoon making classes on zoom. Folks from all walks of life discovered the joy that comes from subtracting to reveal, the satisfaction of seeing wood grain come to life under that final coat of oil. 

A Day At The Shop

Room for All

Not all of the spoons that we made during covid were pretty. There were squished bowls and crooked handles. Overzealous trimmings and a few bandaids. But all of these spoons were uniquely, undeniably, ours.

So much of the world over the past few years has felt ugly and beyond our control. Melanie taught many of us how we could craft something beautiful with our own two hands. We just hope that the hardware store doesn’t get a TP-level run on 200 grit sandpaper.