It's in the trees...

I split my week between the wilds of Kent and the big smog of London. When I’m in Kent I like to make the most of being outdoors, especially in the summer months when the days are longer, I’m out there as much as possible to take advantage of living next to ancient woodland. I’ll forage for wild food and watch the native animals, trees and plants. I sometimes pick up a few treasures for the studio to look at and draw - a seedpod, a leaf, or fallen nuts.

Images left to right: aspen and silver birch leaf, foxglove, dead tree, local farm growing cereal.

This summer I have been brushing up on my bushcraft skills and getting better at knowing the trees in my local area, attempting to identify animal tracks and walking along new footpaths I have not ventured along before. I’ve collected nettles and made my own cord. It’s surprisingly strong as a material! I’m sure I spent too long trying to make it look “perfect”, when I guess the real test is making it fairly swiftly and using it for practical reasons, but I’m a maker so it can’t be helped!

Images left to right: nettles in the woods, picked and stripped of leaves and stings! crushed nettles with pith removed ready for the cording, final corded nettles.

I also started using resources in my own garden to use as materials, including crocosmia leaves to play with in the studio, making some coiled forms with wild silk as a binding. I’ve been drying out some cherry wood from the garden for a couple of years and I enjoyed carving a simple haggle form and working on making tapered ends in ash.

There have been several blackberry trips this year (a usual occurrence for me in August & September), and I’ll probably save some berries towards the end of the season to make some more dye experiments.

Images left to right: coiling, blackberries, carved cherry wood, coiling with crocosmia and wild silk.

Often this kind of making in my studio will be about building “thinking works” where they help me explore an idea or feeling I’m trying to capture. These works might not necessarily filter through to a final collection, or the actual materials I end up using. I like to know the old ways of making things with hand tools and the minimum technology! Watch this space...