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.

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.

 

Firing up the kiln

If you have visited Design@HEART before you may well have seen Lindsay Thomas’s work.  Lindsay is a potter, producing eyecatching home decorations using the ancient method of Raku, and incorporating her other love of textiles into her new work.  Here she is talking about her work and methods:

I have been making pots since 1995. I started by attending an evening class and enjoyed it so much I carried on. I was fortunate enough to use an inheritance from my father with which I bought a kiln.

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I was also able to attend two courses that influenced my work and inspired me to try to sell my work. The first course was a weekend in the wilds of Wales with Annie Horner where I learnt to build and fire a Raku kiln and I use this process in my work still.  The second was a week’s course with Peter Beard, an amazing potter who taught me to refine my work and encouraged me to go out and try and sell my work.

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As I loved the Raku process I used this and made work influenced by ancient standing stones and ancient rock art from Ilkley moor. My first selling event was Potfest in the Pens 2000, a show which I have attended every year since. I work from my little studio in my cellar and Raku firing my work in my homemade kiln outside in the garage with my husband being my extra pair of hands.

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Over the years my work has gone through various influences, the main one being natural forms and pebbles found in the beach. The beach theme expanded to beach huts and camper vans and I now include found object found in the beach such as driftwood.

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The Raku process is an ancient Japanese process used to make tea bowls. The work is made, bisque fired, glazed, and then fired again in my Raku Kiln. The Raku kiln is fired to 960degrees then the pots are taken out when red hot and placed in sawdust. This causes a reduction in heat and makes the glaze crackle and any unglazed part turns black.  The pots are then placed in water and cleaned up.

My other love is textiles and my new work is earthenware decorated with oxides and transparent glaze. I use hand dyed yarn by Jean Wildish at Wild Wood Wool to sew rock art designs into the pots.

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Sarah Dunton

Sarah Dunton’s work went down very well last Christmas, so we’re having her back!  Here she is talking about her work:

I am a painter, potter and plant grower – and maker of small objects. I always drew as a child, and went on to study fine art at Leeds University.

My influences and inspirations are manifold, ranging from medieval art with its sturdy practicality, glorious disregard for proportion and delight in decoration, to the 20th century painters Paul Klee and Marc Chagall, whose work is often dreamlike.

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I learnt etching at Leeds, Morley College and Sir John Cass College in London and , much more recently, pottery at Swarthmore College.

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My work is derived from memory of things observed – I try to create calm-inducing and/or tactile work, which usually includes portrayals of birds and plants and occasionally people in their own worlds.

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

One of many new faces at Design@HEART this December is Shaun Vickers, artist and illustrator.  Here, we have a look at his background and his current work, which is sure to strike a chord with many of our shoppers. 

Shaun has always worked within the creative sector, initially trained in Graphic Design in Leicester he was soon illustrating with an airbrush for Athena poster shops back in the 80’s which set him on a path within the greeting card and publishing industry, having successfully freelanced for many years, Shaun joined several top card and publishing companies as Design Manager, Creative Manager through to Art Director overseeing many successful design teams and creating award winning ranges for many high street retailers and grocers.

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Now working from his attic studio in the village of Baildon with expansive views over Baildon Moor, alongside rescued cat ‘Ozzy’ they get wonderful views of nature and life passing by.

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This new venture as ‘Fine Art by Shaun’ allows him the freedom to create his own work without any restrictions, despite being proficient in all medium’s the humble pencil has long been his medium of choice as it allows fine detail to be achieved and the final image to be constructed in a steady controlled manner.

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With a love of all things Nature and Wildlife and given the resurgence of the focus on nature conservation and awareness, pet owner Shaun thought it the right time to marry subject matter with traditional working. To strip the image of colour and focus on the detail and character of the subject matter is really important, as the work continues to evolve so does the variety of situations, poses and formatting for each piece. Whilst he’s passionate about the work he does, his commercial background also focuses on the fact the work has a relevant  appeal and value to the wider public and so mixes pet and equine commissions with the larger wildlife pieces to sell as originals, prints and cards. As well as illustrating all things nature he also works on pet and equine portrait commissions

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This year has seen Shaun exhibit at several town halls and galleries for the first time with his own work, still experimenting with subject matter and formats it’s been a good grounding for the future direction for his next set of illustrations. This year has also seen him showcase his work in all manner of forms at country and craft shows in Yorkshire and his native Leicestershire, meeting new customers, and engaging with other stall holders and building up relationships and friendships through the unique band of ‘Creative Makers’, “I’m really excited for the challenge and opportunities that lie ahead and I’m very much looking forward to attending Decembers Christmas Craft event at Design @ Heart 8th December…see you all there!”

Favourite quote:

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

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Your Christmas Shopping Guide

Looking for those perfect presents for friends, family and colleagues?  We’re here to help!  Here’s some ideas from Design@HEART exhibitors next month to get you started.

The Makers

Know someone who likes making and creating?  Check out these crochet and sewing project kits from Elm Rocks and Sally Sally.  And for the knitters, Ed Bennett Woodturner has a fine selection of yarn bowls to keep their wool clean and tidy.

The Local

If you know someone who loves where they live, how about a papercut map of their local area from Bethanie Yeong.  Her exquisitely fine papercuts make a beautiful gift.

Or a humorous take on our local seaside towns and tourist destinations with prints by Jack Hurley at Rubbish Seaside.

The Pamper Princesses and Princes

Know someone who needs a bit of TLC, rest and relaxation?  How about some very special handmade bath products from Little Shop of Lathers or beautifully scented candles from Calverley Candle Company?

The Writer

Do you know someone who’s determinedly traditional?  Who has shunned the keyboard for pens and paper?  Who sends letters not emails and texts?

The Jewellery Lover

Jewellery is a very personal thing.  You can’t just grab the first pair of earrings you see.  You have to think what sort of jewellery, what style, what theme and colour?  But fear not, we have lots of variety to choose from, from plastic fantastic, to sophisticated precious metals.

The Little Ones

Launcey Boo create lovely gifts for baby’s room and gifts for toddlers and Love From Poppy have a beautiful selection of clothing for little ones.

 

The Food Lover

Know someone who goes crackers over cheese and chutney? Badgers Garden have a wide selection of preserves, pickles and conserves for the food lover in your life.

 

The Accessories Fanatic

With Felted hats and scarves from Fantasy Textiles, printed silk ties, purses, and scarves from Pattern Passion, Tweed handbags from Nuthatch Designs and leather purses from Katie Roe Studio, we have no shortage of luxury accessories.

 

The Music Lover

Guitar Geekery will be returning to Design@HEART with all things musical.  Music fans and musicians alike will love these gifts and accessories.