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.
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.
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.
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.
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.