When I was a kid my Dad let me play around with a chisel and a piece of soft wood and I loved carving patterns into it. When I grow up I’d love to have another go! Martin from Lady Oak Wood tells me in this interview how he is inspired by nature and I totally agree – I love working with natural materials, including wood, and one day, when I’m not so busy with other things, I seriously would love to give wood turning and wood carving a proper try. It was interesting hearing more about it….
Please tell me an overview of your business – what do you do?
Sue and I make greenwood items, mainly from coppice wood that we have harvested ourselves. that makes us sustainable and the coppice woodland we are reviving provides habitat for rare creatures too. We also make BBQ charcoal.
How did you start?
We both started with a love of making things by hand, i particularly enjoyed working with wood and Sue always enjoyed fabric work.
How has your business grown and what are your plans for the future?
We started out as most people like us; very small, having a single table at farmers markets and local fetes. We have grown slowly to do larger festivals, fairs and markets. We have also added demonstrations and workshops to our repertoire.
What is your favourite thing about your work?
The trees and the wood that comes from them always has something teach you.
What inspires you?
Nature, it is all around us and we are as much part of it as it is part of us.
Do you have a favourite artist or businessperson you admire, and why?
Barn the spoon and Robin Wood are very clever business people.
Artist I would have to say I currently admire Anne Thomas’ work with recreating insects.
Have you had any challenges to overcome?
Plenty, working with trees always presents practical and emotional challenges.
Any stories to tell? Funny moments?
Plenty, but mainly when we run workshops the people who come along are amazing. One year we had two families who wanted a spoon carving workshop in the woods on December 23rd! It turned out to be the day a large storm blew in and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves and everyone got out in one piece and with skills that inspired them for years to come. One of the families returned home to find their power had gone out due to damage caused by the storm and they didn’t get it back for 4 days.
Any advice for anyone wanting to try wood carving?
Learn the basics well, so you can be safe while cutting with razor sharp tools. Then your confidence will grow quickly as well as your skill.
Any advice for anyone wanting to start a hand-crafted business generally?
Learn to live relatively cheaply and within your means is probably the best i can offer on that front.
Where can we find you in person? Future craft fairs or markets?
We try to regularly attend our local farmers markets at Aylesford and Tonbridge in Kent. We will also be at the Lammas fair in Eastbourne this year, A New Day Festival in Kent, Into The Wild festival in Sussex and of course The New Forest Faerie Festival
Where can we find you online?