The making of a masterpiece
One of the best things about my collaboration with Treelove https://www.mja-wood.com/single-post/a-perfect-match-with-treelove is that I have the opportunity to reach so many people and make a real difference. They tell me that the small heart pieces are a bestseller so today I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look into how these little hearts are made, and all the love and care that goes into them.
Reclaim, reuse, recycle
The first step in making anything is always to gather the raw materials. For me, that means sourcing wood. This can be a fun part of the process, a bit like a treasure hunt, but it can also be very frustrating. There are occasional days when I think it would be so much easier to go to a timber merchant, but then I find a beautiful piece just waiting for a new life and my faith in reclaiming is restored!
I’m always on the lookout for old tables and chairs that have reached the end of their useful life. The tops are perfect for making hearts and the legs make Treelove’s small tree sculptures, so nothing is wasted. In fact I even save offcuts from my bigger artworks and use them to make hearts as well. Every bit of precious wood is reused if at all possible.
I tend to use hardwoods when I can, they are slow growing and have a lovely colour and texture. The real treasure is a bit of Oak or Elm with beautiful patterning and maybe a few knots and burrs, finding something like that would truly make my day.
Back home to the workshop
Having got hold of that old oak table the next step is to bring it back to my workshop. I work at home, we converted the garage into a workshop and studio, and it’s a wonderful space. I always feel that I can be both creative and productive here, surrounded by the tools of my trade and never too far from home should I need a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Many of the tools once belonged to my Grandpa. He actually used to make his own tools and used them to make model ships. I still have many of those and everytime I pick one up I feel as if he’s looking over my shoulder, hopefully nodding in approval. His bench vice is the best I’ve ever found for making hearts, and I often use his rasps and chisels too.
Handcrafted and unique
Once I’ve taken the table or chair apart I can truly see what I have, the shape and grain of the wood is always unique. Marking on the hearts is a work of art in itself, figuring out how to make the most of the features in the wood. Once that’s done it’s over to the bandsaw to roughly cut each one out.
Now the real hand crafting can begin as each piece is rasped to smooth the edges, then filed and lastly sanded to a smooth finish. This is where the hearts get their final shape and it’s a very organic process, feeling my way through the wood and judging the shape by eye. When I’m working like this I feel that “flow” and connection. The smell of the wood, the feel of it in my hand connect me with nature. Not only that, with reclaimed wood there’s a sense of history. It’s amazing to think about the people who may have sat on a chair, or the conversations had around a table. I think a little of that finds its way into the artwork.
The next step is my favourite - branding each heart with my logo! It’s that stamp of a truly handmade item and will stay with the piece throughout its second life.
Giving each piece it’s beautiful finish is a long, slow process. I apply three layers of hardwax oil, letting each one dry and sanding them between coats When you include the drying time it usually takes two or three days to get the finish right, but when they have their final buff on the wheel you can see that it’s been worth the wait.
Each heart has an extraordinary shine and an amazing depth of colour, the power of nature brought to the surface. The only thing left to do is to wrap them up and send them to begin a new life with customers who I hope will love them as much as I do.
You can find them on the Treelove website www.treelove.com