If you’ve been following my movements over on instagram lately, you will have noticed that the last week has been all about timber! It’s been a week of preparing timber for my next large work, and foraging for free wood in the Sussex countryside.
It’s been a long time coming but I am finally getting the chance to work with a beautiful piece of oak that we’ve been drying for over two years (plus it was drying for maybe three or so before we took it on). It’s a piece that both me and my partner have been ogling at for a very long time, knowing that something special was meant to be made from it but not sure what. It was early last week that I decided I best start a new artwork, when I came across this particular plank again and this time I took one look at it and started doing a happy dance because I immediately knew what the grain was telling me to create. This rarely happens! I usually stare at the timber for months once it’s prepped and ready to burn, like an author with writer’s block staring at a blank sheet of paper. It was very exciting to immediately recognise what I should try to capture with this piece, and it was also hilarious (in a laugh or cry kind of way) because it needed to be big. To make what I thought would sit within the grain best, I would need to use almost the entire length. This meant I would then spend the next week preparing it with hand held sanders because we don’t yet have machinery in our workshop (as you can see from the photos).
Chunk of Hunk. Before sanding.
So for the last week or so I’ve been spending several hours a day sanding back the oak, smoothing out the raised knots, and brushing the debris out of the bark edging. I am a very tactile person, which is something that has drawn me to timber as an art medium because it’s not just for looking at. Although hard work, this piece has already proved to be a lot of fun because with time, patience, and some silly dance moves to boot, I’ve transformed a dirty piece of unwanted timber into a beautifully smooth wooden canvas. Though I won’t lie, I can’t wait for some proper tools for the job!
I’ve never attempted a piece of this scale before so I expect it will take me the best part of a year to complete, as I will need to restrict the amount of time I work on it. As much as I would like to spend all my time working on my large artworks, I couldn’t pay my rent without all my other ranges and the events I attend throughout the year. Which leads me onto my other woody news…foraging!
This week I’ve been scouting out and collecting lots of new timber for my home decor range and in preparation for my upcoming wedding range. I’m in the process of designing an entire range of rustic wedding decorations from table decor to bespoke signs and keepsakes, all with a whimsical woodland vibe. More info about my wedding range will be coming soon; if you would like to be the first to know more you can subscribe to my mailing list at the bottom of this page.
Having recently moved house to be nearer to the workshop, I am now lucky enough to spend a lot of my time on the Sussex Downs with my dog. I have found a beautiful sense of peace and harmony since the move, all of which I attribute to spending so much time outside. I’ve taken up photography as a hobby again, and I use my time outside to capture my mood in photographs, and to scout for unusual materials to use for my artwork. Mostly I have learned that this would be a lot easier and more interesting were I to know tree identification (which is next on my hobby list), but my walks have already resulted in some very interesting and useful finds. I find that being in nature has inspired me to be more creative than ever before, and it’s thrilling to know that my artwork is allowing me to have such a special life/work balance. Watching wild deer graze and leap through the fields is a spectacular way to spend the mornings and it makes me feel very humble and appreciative to have these opportunities so close to home.
Above: A selection of my photographs taken over the past month’s morning walks.
As well as finding felled branches on my daily walks, I spent the weekend collecting felled oak that was left by a tree surgeon local to my family. I’ve been collecting stock here for a while, but this was the biggest haul yet. It feels so great to be outside collecting unwanted timber, seeing the beauty in each piece that would otherwise go unrecognised. We will be drying the oak for the next year or so (it’s a slow old process when using foraged materials!) and then we will be making everything from wall mirrors, to coasters, table pieces, and pointillism art.
For those that love raw mediums I’m sure you can appreciate my love of timber and sourcing materials as naturally and ethically as possible. For those who have yet to discover the joy of finding creativity outside, I highly recommend you explore outside and see what you find, I guarantee you’ll have as much fun as I do!