Bringing trees back to life

It’s destined to be a sewing table for his mother, but it’s also a celebration of complexity in olive ash and sycamore.

The intricate design of Matt Hanley’s table required precision steam bending, and the ash veneers were all hand crafted.

The table has a sycamore frame with olive ash legs and stretcher, and now only requires some final finishing to bring the patina of the woods and veneers to life.

While Matt, from Leominster in Herefordshire, had little woodworking experience before coming to the Chippendale school, he does have very real expertise in managing trees and woodland.

He was previously an arboriculturalist, mainly working in large public gardens such as the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley and the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh.

Immediately before coming to the Chippendale school, he was an instructor at an agricultural college in Hampshire, teaching both full time and short course students.

“My path to furniture making came from a desire to be involved with creation instead of destruction. Years of felling and dismantling trees, mainly cutting the timber into firewood, became very shallow and dissatisfying,” he says.

“Instead, I wanted to learn how to make beautiful furniture from trees I had felled, rather than turning them into a heap of firewood and woodchip.  I haven’t regretted that choice for a second,” says Matt.

That understanding of the raw materials of his new trade, coupled with his innate design talent, will serve him well when he sets up his new business back in Herefordshire after graduation.

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