On a small farm in Falmouth, tucked away inside their workshops is a group of young makers. Producing objects, ranging from bowls to furniture, these designers have as much enthusiasm for their chosen craft as they do for having a good time. I was able to have a tour of the workshops when I visited in October of 2016 for their ‘Dead Good’ themed party. The tranquil location, and the freedom to work collectively or individually may just mean that this group have got as good as it gets.
Among this collective is Studio Haran (http://shop.studioharan.co.uk), winner of one of Etsy’s 2016 awards, Sam Jennings (http://www.samjenningsdesign.co.uk), and Heather Scott (http://www.heatherscott.org.uk). However, whilst visiting London Design Fair in September 2016, the colourful works of Amy Isles Freeman (http://www.amyislesfreeman.co.uk) caught my eye, and as it happens, she is also a member of this talented crew.
I spoke to Amy about her chosen craft, woodturning, and was eager to hear more about how she came to create such exciting pieces.
How did you get into wood turning?
My dear friend and then boyfriend, Felix McCormack taught me. I left my drawing degree with a desire for change and boredom with paper. I am part of a really exciting group of makers, and just wanted to be able to join in!
What attracts you to working with wood?
I’m a funny kind of wood worker in that I don’t believe that I am one. I use wood in a way that many wood workers recoil at – I paint over it. Sacrilege! For me the wood is my canvas, and it is smooth, weighty and warm in colour.
Can you remember the first thing you made on a lathe?
A tiny little cup. It’s pants by today’s standards, but looking back it was quite impressive as a first attempt.
What attracts you to this process?
It is so super satisfying. I turn a plank of wood into lots of bowls and cups. Isn’t that kind of magic? I’m so new to being a maker, so making things out of wood still seems magical to me.
Is there anything you find difficult?
I hate breaking bowls on the lathe. It’s scary and upsetting.
What advantages are there with woodturning?
Woodturning doesn’t require that much equipment, and it’s not that difficult to learn. The process can be quick, and getting an end result out of a process whilst you are learning is, for me, very important. It can be the impetus to keep on going.
Do you think the process should be promoted more to women?
Everything should be promoted more to women!
How versatile is the lathe to work with?
It is versatile for sure, I just haven’t pushed those versatilities. What I am doing is the bare minimum within the capabilities of woodturning, as my work is more about the paintings that I make onto the bowls.
Do you think turning is seen as more of a male dominated craft?
Only because people keep on telling me it is! I am blessed to have some badass women makers around me, so nothing much seems gendered anymore.