For the love of wood

Gavin Edwards is another newcomer to Design@HEART, bringing his interesting and original wood work.  He has had many careers, and his current one draws on all the others, as he tells us in this latest blog.  

Working with wood is my latest career choice, having previously worked as a Cartographer, Field Archaeologist, Archaeological Curator and finally as Museum Collections Manager.  An unconventional background perhaps, but I have always enjoyed working with wood, so I didn’t want to feel that I never had the opportunity to explore where my love of wood might take me.

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My experiences as an archaeologist, as well as working with museum collections, has made me appreciate just how much human material culture and technological development has relied on the physical properties of wood. Indeed, our relationship with trees stretches back to the very origins of our own species, but there is so much more to wood than just its physical properties. There is an intrinsic beauty about its internal structuring, the natural grain and colour, which is something I always hope to enhance and take advantage of through the use of very simple and structured forms.

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I like to use a wide range of native and non-native woods, birch plywood and reclaimed wood to create what I refer to as decorative wall panels rather than ‘wall art’. In most cases the design element of my work is driven by the same desire to highlight and show off the character and quality of the wood, and on occasions it can be an unusual feature in a piece of wood that is the inspiration for the design of the finished piece.

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Bringing out the very best qualities of the wood is achieved by hand sanding down all the surfaces to a very fine level and then applying a hard clear wax finish before further applications of a semi solid wax finish. I do not use varnishes as I want these items to develop their own history by accumulating the dents and scratches of time, which are more easily ‘soften’ by additional applications of wax finish. Again it is the quality and appearance of the wood that matters most, which is why I prefer to use simple forms. The only time I use stains or paint, is when making the baseboards which are measured up and made to support the other pieces of wood that have already been cut and arranged to create the overall design.

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The basic layout and design of some of my pieces can be repeated, but the appearance of each completed one will always be unique due to variations in the wood itself and the hand-crafted nature of its construction.

Silver and Stone by Helen Drye

Back in April we featured Helen Drye on our blog, talking about her work and influences.  She’s popped back to give us a bit of an update about her current work. We can’t wait to see the new collections.

I started Silver and Stone Jewellery in July 2012. I did the classic, turning a hobby into a business. It has given me the opportunity to be flexible in my work pattern around family and home.

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This year though I’m coming out of my shell and talking about myself in my branding – By Helen Drye.  This feels very strange to me!  I’ve always hidden behind my Silver and Stone branding, and I’m well known for teaching jewellery making under this name.

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2018 is a year for launching my own new ranges of jewellery and showing just what inspires me. The first range that I launched earlier in the year was my Woodland Collection, a range of individual pieces of jewellery inspired by Skipwith Common Nature Reserve, near York.  This is just next to my studio.  When things get a bit much, I like to go for a walk in the Common. Skipwith Common is a National Nature  Reserve, a beautiful woodland and common land, with rare breads roaming around. You can wander through the common and see deer, black sheep, and then have a pony walk in front of you! It is truly stunning, but shhhh – don’t tell anyone. You’ll see the trees in my designs, to me there is something mystical about the Common. This area has been common land for centuries, but during the Second World War it was a RAF training base. You can still see some of the remains, but the trees are reclaiming their land. It is such a contrast, and a testament to how nature reclaims its own.

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My Woodland Collection has done very well.  I love the fact that each piece is different.

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My next range will be my Contemporary Range.  A minimal unfussy silver range of jewellery.  Modern in design and very wearable for every day.  This range incorporates the jewellery that I want to wear every day, silver jewellery that doesn’t date, and will go with anything!  I will be launching this in October, so look out for it at my Christmas events.

As we run up to Christmas, I am making time for designing and making.  I have less workshops, more exhibitions and events and less teaching.  I’ll be back to the workshops in January, when I find that I have a busy time – they make ideal gifts for Christmas, something creative to do when it’s cold and dark!

 

 

 

 

 

Heart of Glass

Sarah Wade of Garage Glass Studio is back this December with her charming fused glass products.  We asked her about her making process and how she got started.

My interest in fused glass developed from my interest in stained glass which I did as a hobby for a number of years. At one course I went on there was a kiln and we had a go at fusing glass. I was hooked, and ever since I have been fascinated with the things you can do with glass and a kiln.

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Warm glass or kiln-formed glass is the working of glass by heating it in a kiln. The processes used depend on the temperature reached and range from fusing and slumping to casting but doesn’t go much above 800 degrees centigrade. This differs from hot glass, where the artist works with molten glass with a temperature around 1000 degrees.

For the first few years my interest had to remain a hobby as I had a day job as an accountant, but four years ago I gave up that job and soon afterwards Garage Glass Studio was born. I have two small kilns in our garage and the glass is created there, hence the name.

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I did a City and Guilds level 3 in decorative glass course at night school, and I have been on a number of courses to learn specific techniques of glass making, but other than that I am self taught, adapting techniques I have learnt to create the images that I want to make, and learning how glass performs at different temperatures. I am particularly fascinated by the effects are created through the reactions between the chemicals in different glasses as they heat up.

 

Most of the inspiration for my work comes from the world around me, from the animals and plants that I see in the countryside in West Yorkshire. I love taking my wares to craft fairs and sharing it with people. It feels great when they look at your table and smile.