I grew up on a farm just outside of Durham City, having a farming upbringing I was always around nature. It was from watching my Dad when I was child making pieces in the shed, repairing furniture and doing some joinery about the farm that I was introduced to wood and hand tools used and also the odd power tool. So by a young age I knew like many wood workers how it feels to bash your finger with a hammer. .
During school I had an interest in Art & Design and also Craft & Technology, so to continue my interest I studied three dimensional design at Newcastle college and furthered my studies by completing a BA Hons degree in Transportation Design at Northumbria University. During my third year of university I took a three month placement with Jaguar Landrover in the midlands doing automotive clay modelling. This is the Art of bringing a designers sketch to a three dimensional form using clay. a model can be full size or scaled down to quarter size or 40percent, both exterior and the interior are modelled. It was here that a really developed a keen interest in sculpting and learnt how to transfer a image in to real life as well as working to engineering measurements.
After university I worked for a year on a farm before gaining a position on Jaguar Landrover Graduate scheme doing clay modelling. As my skills and confidence grew in being a sculpture I decided to have a go wood carving in spare time. My first piece was a table top made from a slice of very old oak tree that had been felled when I was young and had been sat in our shed since. I brought myself three basic bevel edged chisels and a mallet from a DIY shop and laid out my design. It consisted of a Highland cows face in the centre, a sheep to the side and some scattered stalks of barley. With my brother keeping Highland cattle and sheep for many years their form was etched into my mind so I rarely had to look at any pictures, this also gave me some freedom to carve to my imagination. Once finished I coated it in beeswax, cut a whisky barrel in half to make as the legs/base and for a first carving im still to this day chuffed with it.
After the table I tried my hand a some relief carvings and also etching an image into wood with a Dremel. With in clay modelling there is also a degree of wood work involved, making the base frame for a model and also tool making, so gathered knowledge of skills of wood work techniques and also machines that are used in a workshop: Band saws, circular saws, thickness planers, disc and bobbing sanders, panel saws, lathes, pilar drill and also a variety of power tools.
I find is a more challenging material than clay with all its knots and cracks but the finished product and the journey it took to get there has a greater feel of accomplishment. The knowledge that I am doing something that man has being doing for generations, using traditional skills mixed with modern day power tools to aid the construction. Sculpting is a skill in which you never stop learning, its this that makes it more exiting for me, learning new techniques, how tools work. The wood itself brings new challenges, every piece is different, finding out what product is best to finish a piece in, oils and waxes, how to navigate the grain and cracks.