I enjoy small-scale woodworking.
Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse: the desire to do a job well for its own sake.Richard Sennett, The Craftsman
Green Wood Carving
Carving in green or newly-felled wood presents a unique opportunity to understand wood on its own terms: bark, grain, knots, and all. Giving shape to designs that begin in trunks and branches, rather than squared-off timber, presents unique challenges and delights that inform my other carving work.
From sawing the blank, to splitting with froe, to roughing the form with axe and adze, then refining the surface with a straight-beveled knife, I love every part of working in green wood.
Netsuke are small carved toggles that fasten a purse to a kimono. They were once as common in Japan as buttons are in the West. Over hundreds of years, they became increasingly more refined, whimsical, and expressive.
It is therefore a sculptural form that is both fine and robust, carved from hard materials that retain detail but also tolerate, even improve, with wear.
I love wood grain, and I love to write. Need I say more?
Using specially-cured green wood and off cuts makes this a remarkably economical and environmentally-friendly way to bring the beauty of wood into people’s everyday lives.
I aim for classic designs that feel good in the hand, and finishes that are both durable and which draw out the natural “fire” in the grain of the wood.
Toys, Automata, and Keepsakes
At the age of five, having watched The Nutcracker Suite on television, all I wanted for Christmas was a nutcracker. I still recall the anticipation, unwrapping the brightly-coloured wooden toy, and marvelling at its working mechanical mouth. We ate a lot of nuts that winter.
My love of wood, cams, gears, pulleys–as well as children, and the child within us all–has led to toy-making. I am inspired by Victorian-era automata and Edo-period karakuri, as well as the timeless European tradition of crafting wooden toys.
My aim is to make toys that are robust enough to be played with, yet intriguing and unique.
I picked up my four-year-old nephew’s ukulele one Christmas, and couldn’t put it down. It is an instrument that makes it easy to start making music, but hard to take too seriously.
One thing led to another, and I started making ukulele-like instruments, starting with cigar boxes and biscuit tins for the bodies, and working my way up to banjoleles and solid wood instruments.
I have limited space and no formal training, so I sometimes refer to myself as a “kitchen-table luthier” and a “YouTube apprentice”.