Marquetry and Me

Stuart King at the marquetry cutter’s donkey

I left school in 1957 aged 15 years with notions of being an archaeologist or naturalist, or even a film cameraman, but with not one qualification to my name. My furniture-making farther said that I had no choice but to seek a job in the local furniture industry. There has been such an industry in my home town of High Wycombe (35 miles north of London) for over 200 years so it seemed perfectly natural, although not very exciting, to follow in my father’s footsteps. Continue reading

Raymond Harvey makes his (wooden) bed

Raymond Harvey, woodturner from High Wycombe

Raymond Harvey, woodworker from High Wycombe

“These are my most important tools”, said my host, looking at two home made knives, one ground from a worn-out hacksaw blade, and an old ‘Surform’ rasp. I was standing in Raymond Harvey’s makeshift back-garden workshop, which reflects his general approach to his work, being a structure consisting completely of recycled materials. There, standing majestic in the midst of this ramshackle shelter is the most stunning four poster bed I have ever seen.

It is bedecked, one could say almost bejewelled, with the most beautifully coloured and grained exotic woods, all vying for attention. These are arranged in very precise geometric patterns reminiscent of the Islamic art of the Moors. Continue reading

Bone up on Bobbins : the craft of lace bobbin making

Lace maker

‘Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
Pillow and bobbins all her little store;
Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay,
Shuffling her threads about the livelong day,
Just earns a scanty pittance, and at night
Lies down secure, her heart and pocket light.’

Lines written by the poet William Cowper (1733-1800) describing the plight of lace makers in his hometown of Olney, north Buckinghamshire. For the most part lacemaking was an occupation of the poor, mainly women and children, and although the financial rewards were low it often made the difference between independence or the workhouse. Continue reading