Teelepeltjies (Teaspoons)

by Naretha Pretorius

I have a slight obsession with teaspoons… Their patite shape, their beauty, their purpose… to stir tea, to look pretty, to be aligned perfectly with the ears of teacups, all facing the same direction.  So obedient.  So beautiful. 

Teaspoons are filled with metaphors and meaning, they are symbols of subservient behaviour, they are representative of femininity, they represent an etiquette in some way of days gone by (do we still care about presentation when serving tea?), teaspoons speak of good social conduct…  In the not so distant past, when etiquette was of utmost importance in society, the teaspoon was of importance, so much so that it was the chosen gift to welcome a new-born into this world.  The teaspoon held value, it was a symbol of good luck and good fortune.  That is after all where the saying: “You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth” comes from.

For me, teaspoons are filled with memories; they remind me of ‘huisbesoek’ (home visits) when the minister visited us at home and my mother would serve us tea and a snack while the men speak of ‘important’ things.  Teaspoons and tea cups remind me of tea serving after the church service, where the women gather to serve the congregation tea, and of course, while the men count the donations and finalise their meeting. 

I was taught to align the teaspoons with the ears of the teacups, and that all the ears and all the teaspoons needed to point in the same direction; that in itself holds so much meaning and a reflection of good social conduct.  Behave yourself, follow the others, stand in line, look in the same direction… don’t wander of the path.

Below a teaspoon cast I made a while back… I am on a mission to make as many as possible, different sizes, different designs… Of which I am also trying to do the 12 apostles… I will see where this leads me….