One meets the nicest people when out walking the dog, outdoor people, ones who appreciate the simple things in life. This bespoke commission came about over a period of time, many walks of the dog and meeting my neighbour along the way. He had recently moved a way from the industrial north east looking for space to breathe, the simple joy of the big skies and wide-open spaces of Northumberland.
We got to talking, as you do…dogs, weather..life, the universe and everything. When I told him what I did for a living, craftsman/carpenter/bespoke furniture maker, he asked me if I would design and make some garden furniture, specifically, for his wife’s birthday present. Much talk about design, size, materials and timber..he was wanting something sturdy, chunky and rustic. Just my way of working, really.
Prepared some design sketches, the design brief included lots of natural flowing forms, high quality and durable timbers with individual and unique qualities.
The decision was made to use Elm for this piece, highly durable and with a multi-coloured grain and figuring, one of my 1st choice timbers to work with. Resistant and demanding of sharp tools and a high level of skill and craftsmanship.
With a design agreed, and the timber chosen, time for a trip across the border to my absolute favourite timber merchant and collective group of artisan designer/makers of some very fine furniture, indeed. Real Wood Studios near Ancrum in Scotland.
This is where the making begins, in essence, in warehouse full of choice, locally grown and sourced timber..its easy to let the mind wander and see possibilities in every piece of wood there. Time to focus and stick to the brief. Not easy in a treasure trove of carpenter goodies such as this.
Back to the workshop, and begin to shape the rough boards into the bits and pieces of the table that took shape in my minds eye when coming up with the design sketch. Cutting out defects, keeping the highlights of grain and figuring.
As a maker and craftsman, this is without a doubt, the fun bit. Where the ideas put down on paper and discussed at length with a client, begin to take shape.
I see my role in making as being that of doing everything I can in order to make the raw materials look good. Starting the process with quality materials such as this gives one a huge advantage, rough diamonds into sparkling gems.
Applying the first coat of timber oil brings a glow to the hand worked timber, the colour and grain the payback for many hours of hard work. Final assembly brings an inner smile like no other that I know, and idea realised is such a satisfying thing.
A hugely satisfying piece of work, both to make and to happily hand over to my neighbour, I added in a few accessories to go with the finished work. I love my job, I want people to enjoy owning the things I make. Job done, with ideas in my head for the next piece of work.