Standard Spoon at Amazon.com + Production Update

Via Update #27 on Kickstarter:

Hi Backers & Friends,

We hope you all have been enjoying your spoons, stirring up many great cocktails this summer and fall!  After we fulfilled orders to backers earlier this year, our work didn't end. We had received just enough spoons from the factory to fulfill Kickstarter pledges and pre-orders, with a very small amount of inventory remaining to offer for sale. 

New Inventory:

Just this past month we received the second half of our original shipment, which has given us the go-ahead to get more word out about the spoons, now that we have a good amount of inventory to sell!  We've also added a few companion products to the website.  We have some of the last copies in stock of Dave Stolte's Home Bar Basics cocktail manual (won't be available again until summer!). 

We also have those great square ice cube trays by Tovolo, which we personally use to make good stirring and serving ice, and highly recommend. And lastly we've added some locally-made solid wood maple muddlers as a special side add-on for the upcoming holidays.

1" Ice Cube Trays ($15), 2" King Cube Tray ($10), Solid Wood Maple Muddler ($15)

1" Ice Cube Trays ($15), 2" King Cube Tray ($10), Solid Wood Maple Muddler ($15)

Give Spoons for the Holidays:

BUY AT STANDARDSPOON.COM: Use Coupon Code GIVETHANKS for 15% off the purchase of either of our cocktail spoons (effective November 27-30, 2015)

BUY AT AMAZON.COM: We're now listed on Amazon, and both spoons qualify for Free 2-Day shipping for Amazon Prime members, and Free Standard Shipping for everyone else. 

Legit Cocktail Spoons make Awesome Holiday Gifts!

Legit Cocktail Spoons make Awesome Holiday Gifts!

Story Time: Production Update 

Interested in what we've been up to for the last 5 months? Settle in (seriously, go make yourself a tonic) and read on:

One of the reasons it took so long for us to receive this last shipment is that we needed to have many conversations with the factory, and revise our Quality Assurance documents over the summer.  A high proportion of that first batch of spoons didn't make it past our own quality inspections - you backers got the best of the best, which is why we didn't have many left over to sell.  Let's just say that since we've got pretty high standards, we've got a pretty good-sized box of unsellable spoons collecting dust. 

We weren't able to move forward with manufacturing long term with that level of waste, so we went back to the factory with our feedback, extensively documenting and refining our Quality Assurance plan, and requesting revisions for the next shipment of spoons.  After receiving a small sample shipment of about 60 spoons in June, we reviewed and revised again.  With the last batch we received in October, we're confident we've arrived at as close to our original vision as we can get; the spoons are beautiful, consistent, and extremely strong. 

Wingman Cocktail Spoon being boxed up

Wingman Cocktail Spoon being boxed up

We recently received a message from one of our backers, Jon, who was curious about the construction of the spoons.  Manufacturing methods have always been something we've been straightforward about, and while we spent most of our summer working on revisions (and considering some alternatives), it wasn't until a few weeks ago that we've been able to finally arrive at our long term plan for manufacturing the spoons.

So if you're curious about getting into the nitty gritty with us, here's the (lengthy) response I sent to Jon about investment casting (our original plan) v. other alternatives, and the twists and turns, pros and cons, and cost-benefit decisions that are made behind the scenes in product development.

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your message this week, it's always great to hear from our backers! I'm especially appreciative of you taking the time to write, as you bring up a subject (manufacturing method) that we've been working on tirelessly behind the scenes, but realized we haven't addressed definitively online or in communication to backers. I hope you're settled in with a nice cocktail, because your curiosity is about to get the story you asked for :)  

A long time ago.... well, at least earlier this year, when we received the final production samples from the factory (before you backers got your spoons), they looked AMAZING, and for all we knew, they were made using the manufacturing method we requested - investment casting as one single piece. We placed the order. The factory experienced delays, much of it related to the metal warping during polishing, and then having to straighten them, and then polish again, in a seemingly endless cycle of revision and re-work. 

 One thing we've learned about working with Chinese manufacturers is that they are not very forthcoming with the challenges they might encounter during the manufacturing process. We've learned that their tendency is to try to solve the problem on their end, without involving the client (us) unless they feel it’s absolutely necessary, in the best way they know how. Sometimes, as we've discovered, that means the factory makes changes with the end-goal in mind, and may take liberties in balancing priorities. 

We found out about some of these changes when we received our order of spoons, and saw that some of them clearly exhibited signs that the spoons were not cast from a single mold, but were rather assembled, welded, and polished smooth. While this did essentially produce a seamless design when done correctly, it didn't follow the method that we had wanted, and the one that we had communicated to backers (namely, that it be cast as one piece using the investment casting method). 

 We were stuck in a hard place, because we’ve been perfectionists about these spoons since the beginning. Not to mention that these spoons were paid for, and we didn’t have the luxury of throwing them out and starting over. The factory provided us with a partial order (less than half) -- barely enough spoons to fulfill orders to Kickstarter Backers. We were already 9 months behind delivery schedule, and the second half of the order would take another 2-4 months to finish. The spoons were SO close to what we wanted. We were in no position to reject an order that met 95% of our requirements—they were the right size and shape, and they were beautifully polished. We also did strength tests on them, and DANG, they were strong. We were confident that even though we suspected the factory was fusing them together, rather than casting them as one piece from the beginning, they still met our original intention of being incredibly strong, and damn near unbreakable. 

 There were some that were too wavy from extensive polishing, and there were a few that had too much warpage around the neck where the handle meets the bowl of the spoon. We marked these as rejected, and picked the best of the order to send to backers. Fulfilling a Kickstarter is insane. I know our communication to backers suffered, and since we sent the spoons out, we haven’t posted much in the way of updates. We also wanted to try to solve the wavy and warping issues with the next round of spoons, so most of our communication during this time was directed intensely toward the factory. 

 We revised our Quality Assurance documents to reflect the manufacturing issues we were seeing in the rejected spoons. The factory said they would revise the mold to make sure the handles were straighter, and the transition point from spoon bowl to handle was smoother. They didn’t clarify whether this meant they would try to make that elusive single-cast spoon, but at this point, we were willing to concede that it might not be ideal, as cast parts need a great deal of polishing, and polishing on an item of such a small diameter produces a great deal of warpage, which was our new major issue, nearly impossible to correct. 

 We worked on this with the factory back and forth all summer, until the second half of the order went through Quality Assurance in September. Before the spoons left China, our QA team inspected every single spoon, and the attention to quality was obvious when we received the shipment in early October. The spoons are straighter than ever before, and even though we’ve clarified that they are not cast as one piece using the investment casting method, they are incredible, and as close to perfect as we could ask them to be. 

 So now here we are. It was about 5 months ago that we sent that first batch out to backers, and it was only in the last two weeks, when we received the second half of our shipment, that we’ve been able to evaluate the quality of the spoons and the progress we’ve made in perfecting them to the highest standard we know how to achieve. 

 With this recent new information, we have made sure to update the language on our website to ensure we aren’t misleading anyone as to the manufacturing method. The Aero spoon is still a seamless design, and really still a single piece of stainless steel. Rather than being cast from a mold as one piece, the manufacturer fuses several pieces together to make a single piece. It has seamless transitions, and is so strong we can bend it into a U shape with a vise and it doesn’t break. The Wingman is designed the same way, with the obvious multiple-piece design of the spinning handle.

We do still occasionally receive some spoons from the factory that show evidence of assembly – manufacturing defects like a bit of warping– and we try our best to cull these from our inventory so they don’t get passed on to customers. 

Since Kickstarter projects are frozen in time, we aren’t able to modify language on the project page that was written back when the project was live. But with this email, (which I’m going to turn into a Kickstarter update), we’re delivering the transparency of information we promised from the beginning. We are proud to share with backers the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes to continuously improve the tools we’re making.

---

So, Backers --- that's our current update with the intent to continue to keep you informed about this project, even after the Kickstarter fulfillment and campaign conclusion. Please continue to stay in touch; we love hearing from you!  

Cheers,

Rachel Eva & Shawn Michael

An Interview with Shawn and Rachel of Standard Spoon

A few months ago we were interviewed by Kelly Bardon Haddad for an article in Zooey Magazine. 

She spoke with several San Diego couples who own and operate businesses together, including Native Spirits (craft spirits retail - coming soon to North Park!), Cueva Bar (delish restaurant in University Heights), Honest Films (storytelling through film and photography), Mallow Mallow (gourment s'mores!) and Standard Spoon.

From how Standard Spoon was born, to the challenges of working with your spouse, to how Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars inspired us to keep going, there's bound to be something you don't know about us in here:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?

We began making craft barware as Standard Spoon in 2013,
but have been a creative team since 2007 making art and
well-crafted goods as Work of My Hands.


CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF STANDARD
SPOON?

One of our primary motives when we work creatively is
to make things well. We’re inspired by mid-century products
that last, and old tools that are passed down from generation
to generation, because they can be. We love craft cocktail
making for the same reasons. These bartenders make the
best drinks you’ll ever have, and are totally devoted to their
craft. They need tools that match the quality of their work,
and in today’s throw-away-culture, there aren't a lot of companies
making bar tools designed to last. So we are.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES AND BIGGEST REWARDS OF
WORKING WITH YOUR SPOUSE?

Shawn: The biggest challenge is that even in great relationships,
less can be more. We spend almost all of our time
together, which can make it hard for us to turn work “off”
when it’s time to relax or celebrate. Sometimes going to dinner
with one another can turn into a business meeting. At
other times, sharing a meal and dreaming together is what
we want to do.  We learned we benefit from having separate
agendas and tasks during the week, so when we see one another
it’s still like coming home from work. On the other side
of that coin, I get to spend tons of time with my biggest fan
and teammate. Rachel is my greatest supporter and is such
an encouragement. More access to one another is one of the
best thing I’ve ever experienced. Especially once Rachel quit
her job, it was wonderful to have all her mental space devoted
to our dreams. I no longer have to help her disconnect from
her work and switch to the things we are building together.

Rachel: One of our biggest challenges is to exit the “dreaming”
phase, where we get all caught up in generating creative
ideas and visions of what we’re going to do next, and get down
to the “task” phase, where we execute. We love dreaming up
things together, and sometimes we’ll have 4 or 5 really excit-
ing creative ideas before we finish the one we're supposed to
be working on. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves. We have
a coffee meeting at the beginning of each day to set goals
and re-focus on what is most important to accomplish that
week.  One of the major rewards is having a spouse that sup-
ports your vision 100%, because it’s their vision too. They
understand what’s going on, and can empathize with your
challenges and celebrate your successes, because they are the
same. Working isn’t a lonely business, and I don’t have to
try and make it on my own. I have a teammate who is also
a soulmate, and we are moving toward the dream together.

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael Standard Spoon.jpg

HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO BALANCE WORK LIFE AND PERSONAL LIFE?

Still haven’t mastered that one yet. It’s a challenge to turn
off the computer, or not pick up a business call, because we
get excited about the things we’re doing, and want to keep
them moving forward all the time. This is especially true for
anyone who’s still in the start-up phase, because let’s be honest,
it takes a lot of work and effort and intention to start a
business. But even if you work 120 hours per week, there is
still going to be more work to do at the end of the day.

There’s always more work to do. You’ll never get it all done. When
we realized this, we became more disciplined about our work
boundaries, and set up a few rules:

1. When we start working at the beginning of the day, we set
a deadline for when we are going to stop that day, regardless
of how much we’ve gotten done.
2. We decide what the 2-4 most important things are that
need to be done that day and do those things first.  That way
if we run out of time, we at least got the most important tasks
done.
3. Take 1-2 full days off per week from ANY work activities.
We give ourselves a weekend.
4. Schedule free time off for personal projects, rest, friends, 
and family. This is specifically when there is no obligation to
spend time with each other. We do this to intentionally support
our individual interests (writing for Rachel, photogra-
phy for Shawn) as well as our joint vision.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS THEN?

Set deadlines. Finish things, and see how people respond
to them, otherwise your dreams will just be dreams, and will
have nothing to stand on. The more work you do, the better
your future work will be; it’s progressive. You can’t be the
best you’re going to be by nature, you need a body of work and
experience in that field. Embrace the discipline of hard work 
and finishing things.

ARE THERE ANY SMALL BUSINESSES THAT WERE AN INSPIRATION TO
YOU IN YOUR FIRST YEARS?

Bob Taylor (Taylor Guitars) was a huge encouragement to
us when we first decided to move beyond just being artists
and take our business seriously. His “rags to riches” story is
inspiring, because it’s real, relatable, and happened in our
city.  

He said to us once, "when you first start a business,
you're going to suck at it for a while, until you figure it out" (paraphrased)
which is encouraging when you're just starting.  We knew
we had a lot to learn, and knew we weren’t the best, and that can
be intimidating. It was comforting to hear that Bob Taylor
ate Top Ramen for years until the company figured out how
to sell guitars.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR STANDARD SPOON?

We’ll make more tools! For the most part, there’s been little
innovation in the last century with bar ware. It’s exciting for
us to design new products. That being said, we don’t want to
have 20 bar spoons. We’re interested in making the best versions
of the tools cocktail lovers use, and keeping it simple.

All these wonderful photos were taken by Jazmine Fitzwilliam from Let's Frolic Together.

A Summary Story (or Saga) on Finding a Manufacturer

 
Sometimes we've felt like this on our manufacturing journey.  Thanks B.C.

Sometimes we've felt like this on our manufacturing journey.  Thanks B.C.

 

I had a conversation this past week with someone unfamiliar with our project and progress over the last nine months, and it helped me step back from the frustrating details and remember some big-picture milestones.  I'd like to share that conversation with you, which helps summarize one essential segment of this project: Manufacturing.

We successfully funded the Kickstarter campaign with the support of all of our generous backers in February of this year. At the time we had a manufacturer lined up, as we had taken the time prior to the Kickstarter launch to find one we could work with.  That process is no easy task; the factory took us over 3 months to find. 

A factory that is a good match for this kind of project is not easy to locate; here's why:

  • First, our products are extremely unique, so there isn't an established industry standard manufacturing process for them. If we were out to make another tyvek wallet or iphone dock (or a multi-piece straight handled bar spoon), we could find a dozen factories that have made these items before, and are familiar with the process.  When you propose a product that hasn't been made using a specific manufacturing process, many factories aren't up for the challenge of problem solving and figuring out a new way of doing things.
  • Second, we're a really really little fish in a huge manufacturing economy. Typically factories like to see orders in the tens-of-thousands range.  If you can place an order for a hundred thousand units, you command a LOT of attention.  Things happen faster, there's more competition among factories, and it's a lot cheaper per unit. Because we didn't raise $50,000 or $150,000, we're placing the order we can afford, which is smaller and more difficult to market to factories. 
  • Third, the value of our spoons come from the quality and integrity with which they will be manufactured. Because we're unwilling to compromise on essential components such as a single-piece transition from the spoon bowl to the handle, our list of available factory options shrinks dramatically, because many simply don't do this type of work.  For the ones that do, quality and workmanship is another consideration that eliminates factories which value things like price, time, speed, and efficiency above the quality of the end product.

When we did locate our first factory, we felt comfortable launching our Kickstarter. We had some delays early in the year due to Chinese New Year and other national holidays, and received our first samples in June.  It was clear from the samples that they did not fully understand the design elements that were important to the products, even though they had created what looked like single-piece spoons.  We took the time to create 3D printed samples of the spoons, as it would be easier and more accurate to communicate our design expectations with physical models rather than digital measurements which require translation and text qualifiers. 

In early September the factory finally got back to us and informed us that they could not produce the spoons we designed.  We learned that even though the samples they sent were finished to look like one piece, they were in fact a composite construction.  The method they were using would not allow for many of the design considerations we requested.

This was devastating news for us, as we were already behind schedule.  Whatever semblance of a manufacturing schedule we had left was ruined.  What could we do but inform our backers, and keep moving forward? 

Thus began our second factory-finding phase.

We went through several candidates who seemed promising, but when it came time to get serious and place a purchase order, some of the details wouldn't match up, or our quantities wouldn't be high enough, or our broker had some concerns about some of the promises that were being made.  Unfortunately, we have to continue to go through the long process of exploring manufacturing competencies, communicating the plans of our products, getting feedback, considering compromises, and getting quotes from each factory until one works out in the end.  We run into a lot of dead ends, and it takes time.

That it only took us 2 months to find our second factory is good news.

As of this week, we've contracted with a factory, placed a purchase order, and are having production samples made!  Read more in today's Kickstarter Update for factory details and what's next.

 

The "Young Guns" of the San Diego Cocktail Scene

For the first time in San Diego's cocktail competition history, the seasoned professionals were banned. Leigh wasn't allowed to sass his way through to victory - he was the bar back.

Last month Rumbling Tins Co. hosted the "Young Guns" cocktail competition at Sycamore Den, where eleven establishments gave up one of their protegés to duke it out by slinging spirits. The greenest among them, Thomas Donahue (he'd only been bartending for two weeks) 'somehow' pulled the short straw, and the game was on!

Thomas Donahue of Fairweather - first up!

Thomas Donahue of Fairweather - first up!

David Kinsey and Leigh Lacap of Rumbling Tins Co.

David Kinsey and Leigh Lacap of Rumbling Tins Co.

Sycamore Den was packed. It was sweaty, but we had cold beer, cocktails, and who can resist the smell of popcorn at a good show? The guys from Rumbling Tins Co. ran a great event, complete with a verbally profuse MC and theme songs for each competitor (Jackson makes drinks to Enya... ). George Dickel, Bulleit, and Talisker spirits were the sponsors. I'm pretty sure I heard Elliot Mizuki mention Dickel-backs before the event (is that why his shirt is wet? Oh, wait, that was the bottle pour.)

Jackson Milgaten of Turf Club - the Enya requester

Jackson Milgaten of Turf Club - the Enya requester

Elliot Mizuki of Polite Provisions

Elliot Mizuki of Polite Provisions

Adele Stratton of Rare Form

Adele Stratton of Rare Form

The judges (Elise Bradley, Candice Woo, Ed "Dirt" Adams, and Alex Maynard) rated each of the contestants on three separate drinks, so after 33 sips of anything and everything, they were slightly besotted, blind, blotto, bombed, boozy, canned, cockeyed, crocked, fried, gassed, hammered,  juiced, lit up, loaded, looped, oiled, pickled, pie-eyed, potted, ripped, sottish, soused, sozzled, squiffed (or squiffy), stewed, stiff, stinking, tiddly, tight, wet, wiped out.  

So were everyone else - free pizza, snarky comments, passing cocktail samples; the bar was packed and sweating at the gills. Eric Johnson also made his debut as "DJ Shit."

The gentlemen and lady to be on the lookout for around San Diego are (in no particular order):

  • Elliot Mizuki (Polite Provisions)
  • Nick Fernandes (Coin-Op Game Room)
  • Nate Martins (Sycamore Den)
  • Keaton Matz (Bankers Hill)
  • John Dillon (Craft & Commerce)
  • Jackson Milgaten (Turf Supper Club)
  • Adele Stratton (Rare Form)
  • Thomas Donahue (Fairweather)
  • Joey Hoisescu (Ironside Fish & Oyster)
  • Kevin Nguyen (Prepkitchen)
  • Eric Giger  (Noble Experiment)

Keep your eyes on these ones, cocktail drinkers of San Diego. And three cheers to the winner of the competition, John Dillon of Craft & Commerce!

John Dillon of Craft & Commerce - 2014 Champion!

John Dillon of Craft & Commerce - 2014 Champion!

You can find one of John's drinks at a few bars throughout the month of October.  His cocktail, "Need a Hand," features Rye, Jäger Spice, Fresh Lemon, House Made Orgeat, and Angostura Bitters. Perhaps you'll need a hand with drinking it. These young bartenders do deserve a hand, so get out there and order some cocktails. May you all enjoy a long and prosperous career. Cheers!

Find John's cocktail "Need a Hand" here:

Oct 1 - 12: Sycamore Den (Normal Heights)

Oct 12 - 19: Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant (Bankers Hill)

Oct 19 - 26ish: Jaynes Gastropub (University Heights)

Nick Fernandes of Coin-Op Game Room - this guys makes some great drinks!

Nick Fernandes of Coin-Op Game Room - this guys makes some great drinks!

Thanks Shawn Michael for the photos of the event. 

 

First Spoon Samples & the Casting Process

via Update #14 on Kickstarter

On Monday we received our first handmade samples from the factory. 

We are using casting as our manufacturing process, which has been our intent from the beginning.  Casting enables us to create a high quality spoon that is one solid piece of metal, not welded or joined at the seams.  

Preparing to create a cast part requires making handmade samples that are as close as possible to the finished design, and then creating molds from that handmade sample that will be used for final production. Making handmade samples is a laborious process - one that we have experienced firsthand in our workshop when creating the prototypes. The factory has taken the design further than we were able to, which is exciting to see!

First Handmade Samples from the Factory

First Handmade Samples from the Factory

We were happy to see that the factory produced a pair of extremely precise parts, and took care to ensure the spoons, especially the Spin design, function smoothly.  Shawn Michael had to test them both by making an Improved Whiskey Cocktail to celebrate!  This is our first physical version of a solid transition from spoon bowl to handle, and they are well made and beautifully polished.

However, a few of our specifications are not reflected in these first samples. Most of the changes we've requested are easily corrected, and the factory is already working on those adjustments.  One of these is the size is slightly off on the diameter of the handle for the Spin design. There are other design elements that are very difficult to achieve when assembling by hand and using CNC machined parts. Our feedback included areas such as the transition from the handle to the end of the spoon on the Classic design, where the thicker end should meet the handle without a "step" down.  This can easily be accommodated once the mold is made.

The specific area the factory is finding challenging right now is the transition from the spoon bowl to the handle. They have connected the two as one solid piece, but the organic contours we've put into our ideal design are difficult to cut and/or machine by hand. We are working with them on how to make these changes, and ensure that they are captured in the tooling of the final mold that will be used for your spoons. 

Having to rework the samples is a possibility we anticipated.  We did build some cushion into our timeline for this, but are still slightly behind schedule.  If this is something we'll have to work on several times with the factory, it will delay our delivery date.  We believe in high quality goods, so we'd rather get it right the first time, even if it takes a little more time to do.  Of course we will keep you informed as soon as we have more to report!

Building a Home Bar

We're waiting for our first samples to be completed and mailed.  In the meantime, we've been spending time with bartenders and industry folk, and making cocktails at our home bar.

Shawn Michael built the bar in December; we thought it was time to have an intentional space for cocktail making. 

There's a lot to consider when you start thinking about building a home bar. Functional place to drink some cheap lite beer? You can do that in front of the TV (no offense). Are you really into drinking games and have a stash of red solo cups perpetually rotating in and out of your basement cupboards? Maybe a pool table and a ping pong ball is a better bet for you.  

Let's just say I wasn't very inspired when I searched "How to Build a Home Bar" and THIS VIDEO came up as the No. 1 search result:

We live in an old craftsman home built in 1902, and Shawn wanted the bar to look like it belonged - like it was built with the house, not some stuffy new add-on with a shiny teak veneered front.  While we didn't get away with building it for $75, we did use plenty of recycled materials (including pallet wood!)

photo 5 (3).JPG

Of course we had to throw some of that Work of My Hands material aesthetic in there. And dim-able custom lighting on top and underneath.

photo 2 (2).JPG

Most home bars are built with a kitchen mindset (think cabinets and countertops). But if you've ever actually looked at a bartender's well when they're making drinks, they don't have an excess of vacuous space in front of them for slicing lemons and banging ice in a lewis bag. They've got a recessed, open well filled with all their bottled ingredients - liquors, liqueurs, juices - with the necks of the bottles at about the height your hand would naturally rest at while standing. 

photo 1 (4).JPG

It's proved to be an essential space for testing our spoons, making great cocktails, and entertaining.

Cheers!

Behind the Scenes: Making Prototypes

via Update #11 on Kickstarter:

Prototypes for Benefactors are Finished!

During the time the Kickstarter project was funding, we discovered that the torch we owned at home didn't get quite hot enough to create the kind of bond we wanted for your prototypes.  The samples we'd made previously are great for testing, filming, and using, but we want to make sure the prototypes you get have the strongest soldered bond we can possibly make. 

When the funds from Kickstarter cleared after the project ended, Shawn Michael bought a new torch - time to deliver the heat!

Your handmade spoons are finished and will be shipping out as soon as we collect your information.  Look for an email this week with your backer surveys; we'll be asking for your current mailing address to scoot them over to you!

I (Rachel Eva) caught Shawn Michael last week at the end of his workday and was able to witness the final step in the soldering process.  We thought you might enjoy seeing it:

Shawn Michael solders a spoon together, showing us one step in the process of making a prototype. 

Here are some shots of the prototyping process:

standard spoon prototypes pieces.JPG
standard spoon prototypes assembly.JPG
standard spoon prototype cutting sparks
standard spoon prototype silver solder 1
standard spoon prototype silver solder 3

Silver soldering is an extremely precise process - where the handle connects to the spoon bowl, it has to mirror the contours exactly. Each surface must be completely clean and dry; one little fingerprint's worth of oil will ruin the bond. Silver soldering is far superior to welding for this project because it doesn't leave a big old ugly weld scar at the joint - this is the same process used for making jewelry and other finely finished metal crafts.

standard spoon silver soldering stages

Here's a great snapshot of the spoons in various stages of the soldering process - the bottom spoon is not attached, and the surfaces are prepared to be soldered together. Moving clockwise, the next spoon has just been soldered (as you saw in the video). The heat from the torch discolors the surface, and needs to be smoothed and buffed to look like the top spoon. The final stage is polishing the surface to a bright, shiny, Standard Spoon.

Look close enough and you can catch Shawn Michael, his iPhone, and workbench full of tools.

Cheers,

Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael