The story of a spatula by natural dyer Kate Cullen

This is the story of a spatula. This wooden spatula once belonged to my mother over 20 years ago. As an avid and talented cook she had a great many ‘not quite perfect’ tools ready to assist me on my adventure at university. Sadly, having not inherited her culinary skills, I’m not sure it got much use other than occasionally propping open my university halls’ bedroom window. The spatula duly got moved to my second- and third-year shared house, where it saw a little more action in the form of quick and budget-friendly stir fries. It then got boxed up and transferred into my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) first flat.

As I toured the UK on various archaeological digs it saw very little action apart from the odd weekend when we cooked for friends. It resided in the cutlery draw at our first house, and made it to our current home when we needed more space for our little girl (and house rabbit). Although it has been long since updated with silicone versions of itself, I could never quite bear to part with it.

So, over twenty years on, it then finally got relegated (or, as I like to think, ‘elevated’) to the role of dye pot stirrer. Over the years it has taken on the patina of use, and now bears the marks of every dye pot I have made over the last three years. It is my oldest and fondest tool, withstanding the heat of the pot, and continuous dropping (I am quite often clumsy!). It is now smooth to the touch and a deep dark blackish-brown, fading to a lighter brown on the handle.

I wonder what it’s journey will take in the next 20 years? What are your favourite tools of the trade and what are their stories?

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