The British Isles contain an extraordinary diversity of habitats. Chalk uplands, saltmarshes, peatbogs and of course beautiful, mixed woodland. These, though, are not the natural state of affairs. Without any intervention our countryside would gradually revert to deep dark woods with, astonishingly, much lower biodiversity than at present. Woodland needs to be managed to retain it's variety, our glorious bluebell woods are not natural but the product of coppicing and clearing.
That, though, brings major benefits. Wood is a hugely valuable crop, and if managed properly, woodland can produce a steady, totally sustainable, supply of timber.
I source as much of my wood as I can locally, mostly from sustainably managed woodland in Herefordshire. Some trees have to come down because they are rotten. Some to open up the woodland to allow young trees to come through. Much of it has been cut for firewood. Pick carefully through any log pile and chances are you will come across some lovely spalted wood.
One of my favourite timbers is blackheart ash. This is a common discolouring of the ash heartwood and it makes for some beautiful and unusual wood like this bowl on the right. You can clearly see the darker blackheart grain juxtaposed with the paler unaffected wood. Blackheart is not thought to affect the properties of the wood, though it is not valued commercially. A shame as it can be stunning!.
Other spectacular indigenous woods are hawthorn, though it rarely gets big enough for large pieces, damson, oak and sweet chestnut. Fruit woods are great to turn as well, and beech is a much underated timber in my opinion.
"Wood does not need embellishing, merely revealing"
All text and images copyright Toby Murcott 2013.
"Each bowl is unique The feel of the tool on the wood, the aroma of the shavings, the shape that emerges is always different.
My speciality is simple, clean lines and elegant curves. No harsh angles and no unnecessary detail. Wood does not need embellishing, merely revealing."