Within the fortified walls of Sighisoara’s citadel, ancient folk legends and beliefs brought back to light stand to dethrone the immortal count Dracula. You could say it’s nearly impossible, he is a Hollywood star, a legend, people fear him, he exists in books and in imagination! Yet, never was mentioned in the Romanian folklore, which is so rich, that Bram Stoker would have had tens of thousands books to write.
LonelyPlanet recommends him as “a Romanian expert on regional handicrafts, particularly objects from the area around Sighisoara, Transylvania.”
Mark Tudose digged into the Romanian traditions and began telling the stories in an unconventional manner. He carved them on wooden spoons. “I was carving spoons in the citadel square, waiting for a sign from prospects, and start a conversation explaining the wood of choice, then telling the story behind the item.”, he remembers.
Soon everybody called him “The Spoonman”.
He graduated from the Art School in Bucharest. In 2005 he travels to participate at the Crafts Fair in Sighisoara:
“I tried to sell my spoons during the fair, but I didn’t have much success. Same happened during the Medieval Festival. I had 6 big spoons hung on a wall. After the festival, I sold them to a group of Spanish people. I felt like this was the place where I had to be. I returned to Bucharest, gathered all the spoons and chisels and took a cab to Sighisoara. I have been selling my items on the street for about 3 years.”
Today, his guests can drink and cup of tea in his art galleries, while they are spoiled with fairy tales.
Recently, Mark opened up a place called “Do It Yourself”, where guests can handcraft their own souvenirs in Transylvania. He also teaches carving classes to youngsters who come from poor families, the most talented four of whom are recruited for a job.
In 2015, LonelyPlanet recommends him as “a Romanian expert on regional handicrafts, particularly objects from the area around Sighisoara, Transylvania.” Mark has a way of making friends with the prospect. Of respecting the prospect’s intelligence. Of always being fascinating. He even handcrafted spoons with stories for Prince Charles.
The Spoonman channeled his creativity and persuasion into the idea that his spoons must be transformed into something magical
In other words, he’s not selling features or decorative elements, he’s selling wisdom, protection, love. The spoons are made of willow or linden wood, for they are easy to work with and won’t crack in contact with water. Geometric patterns, ancient figures and symbols are beautifully carved in the handle.
The stork is a symbol of luck and protection in the Romanian folklore. It is traditionally believed that if a stork nests on a house, she protects it from fires, floods and thieves.
An owl brings wisdom, for she can see in the dark, what no one else can see.
A spoon with two birds represents love, the traditional Romanian Valentine (Dragobete) also called the Fiance of Birds, celebrated on the 24th of February. The celebration is known as “the day when the birds are betrothed”.
The secret ingredient of his business starts with the question “What’s the story?”.
“I came to realize that an object without a story is unfinished, incomplete. Doing a thing out of pleasure and passion doesn’t feel like work no matter how much time you invest in it. You just do it, and if you get some material things out of it as a benefit then that’s beautiful.”
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