I was born near Banbury in Oxfordshire. I am a fourth generation woodworker and my father was a cabinet maker, carpenter, wheelwright and blacksmith. Most of my skills came from observing and listening to him.
For many years I was a designer and maker of contemporary furniture but health issues at the time forced me to change career.
In my early twenties I became very interested in the study of mineralogy and my avid collecting took me all over Britain searching in mines and quarries. I amassed a very large collection of minerals and my collection has been held in Oxford University Museum for over 30 years where it is used for study and interest to visitors and academics.
I started to work in wood again about three years ago and, having previously spent years making furniture and trying to disguise the natural cracks and splits in wood, I decided instead to actually highlight the blemishes to show what wood is really like and to add colour and interest to my creations.
This is where my long time interest and knowledge of minerals became a part of my work in wood.
I no longer make furniture, but instead I now create unusual artistic inlaid turned wood pieces. These are mainly for display and decorative purposes.
My search for suitable wood has taken me all over the South. I am constantly contacting timber yards and tree surgeons to find unusual pieces.
I have driven literally hundreds of miles and quite often it’s fruitless. What is described as unusual and unique often turns out to be an ordinary piece of wood. Now I try to encourage people to send me pictures to save a wasted journey.
Wood is everywhere so why is it so difficult for me to find the right wood? I look for unusually figured wood with cracks and splits and deformities that will allow me to inlay the wood with precious / semi – precious minerals. The main type of wood is what’s known as a Burr Wood or as the Americans call it ‘a Burl’ .
This is a deformed, usually rounded, outgrowth on a tree trunk that is formed with small knots. This has resulted from the tree undergoing some form of stress. Which could be human interference or insect / mould infestation.
Burrs yield a highly figured wood which is prized for its beauty. They are highly sought after and this makes them expensive.
This is a picture of a Burred Sweet Chestnut Tree and a close up picture of the Burred area on it’s trunk.
Here’s a picture of an Acacia Tree ( False Rubinia ) with lots of burrs on its trunk
As you can see, I recently found someone with a Burr Horse Chestnut Tree
More about me:
My mother was an actress and entertainer. Along with her father and sisters she entertained in towns and villages all around Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. I also became involved from 5 years old. It is therefore understandable, that acting and entertaining are also in my blood.
I returned to acting much later in life and I’ve appeared in films, TV, commercials etc. I was one of the original four people who appeared in the pilot and later in five series of the Primetime Television Programme ‘Off Their Rockers’.