Don't be afraid of diversity.

I started out in the metal business for one reason and one reason only. I wanted to build myself a motorcycle. I thought all welding and metal work was magic and there would be no way that I could do it! It turns out that actually if you work hard you can learn but my goals quickly changed. 

I am surrounded by friends who make amazing motorcycles and I quickly realised that actually I wanted to make furniture and useful pieces as well as anything that came my way that pushed me and added to what I've learned. Simon and his boys at Mint Customs make better bikes than i ever would and they have great vision and talent see them HERE on instagram. One of their bikes is below.

The point is when you start out you don't really know where this new road will take you. Being open to looking around you will usually lead yourself in a certain direction when you find something you like doing a bit more than the other things.

Industrial furniture is my big love and I have made a lot of it over the years! There is something about the functionality as well as the rough edged nature of the industrial pieces that draw me to them. Rustic farmhouse style to like the shelves I make, it all has the same feel! 

Farmhouse rustic style gives you a feel of the old country house where things are functional yet still beautiful and indeed tactile. 

So that is a couple of the products I make a lot of but what happens when I get an email and its asking for something which is not the norm and possibly out of my wheel house! I usually have to read the email twice but then usually take these new challenges on as it makes life a bit more interesting as well as pushing my skills so I learn how to make new things!!

Gemma who is Mother Wild on Instagram has a business making hirable props for weddings as well as doing amazing calligraphy. She is a major example of someone asking me for slightly out there things. I made some mesh items for storing records as well as a crate storage sideboard to. She saw the mesh and asked if I could make some cubes up out of them!! Why not I said and I did! I wouldn't have tried it without the email asking for them but it was good as obviously welding mesh is not that hard but you have to have a light touch so you don't melt it all away but it came out well and she uses them a lot to showcase what she does. She has also asked for some wooden blocks stained and waxed for seating numbers for weddings as well as a pair of the shelves mentioned above.

I got an email from a friend of mine called Buster who wanted a way to make kindling easily but also without chopping at his fingers with an axe! So I thought id make an upside down axe in a frame so you just hit the wood when its placed on the axe blade with a hammer and bang split wood for kindling. When I posted a picture of this product I never realised that not only was this already a thing that existed in the world but some very hostile people would accuse me of stealing a design and not only that but stealing a design from a 14 year old girl!!!

It turned out that on amazon there are 11 different companies selling the same kind of thing and the design I'm supposed to have stolen looked nothing like what the little girl had come up with. Obviously I saw this as a problem to start with but as id been asked to make it as well as having witnesses to my thought process  I soon forgot about the threat of legal action!

Its a good lesson to learn though. There are so many people looking to be righteous online and also spoiling for a fight that as long as you know you didn't steal any design, be it a 14 year old girl's who is now 28, then ignore all the rubbish that comes your way! The offending object is pictured below and out of spite (lol) it is now a product on my website! 

Who knew that cats would figure so largely in my making life but they do! Nicky and Lee are my best customers and they have two very large cats and one of them called Buster (different from the man who ordered the kindling splitter!) has a bad leg and needs a little help with a few things. The first thing was a shelf which meant he could make it up on to the bookcase where both cats Buster and Honey like to sit! That shelf went down so well Buster now uses it as his bed. The other thing that was asked for was a set of stairs to help him get to the window sill and out into the garden! Id never made steps before and using wood to was out of my comfort zone but I did it and also added a metal touch!  They were picked up last night and are now in full use.

Tread plate step edges I like em and I varnished the steps within an inch of their life to! So shiny, useful and just a little bit cool is the way I see these cat steps! I'm glad to have thought my way through this commission and made it work.

Nicky also is an athlete and does ALOT of races and exercise so as well as making monkey bars and a frame for a hanging rope which are comparatively normal things to make she asked me for my take on a medal hanger to hang her race medals on! Now, I make big heavy items which really do not lend themselves to a delicate persuasion but this medal stand I wanted it to mean something and still be functional but still look like it was made in my style and I think I managed it!

 

Robin at Mill Green Forge has a cnc machine it helps to grow ideas and get things cut from metal! It still needed a background and my heavy timber from my tables seemed like a signature from me on this piece. I have strength and honour tattooed on my neck to so I thought it apt to add that onto the arrows that hold the medals and the customer was not only happy but used it immediately!

Variety is the spice of life and I'm asked all the time to make slightly odd things that maybe take a bit more thinking about than a table but that detail alone keeps my life as a maker more interesting and varied.

Just because you think you don't know how to make something doesn't mean you can't adapt your skills to make it happen in the end and I have genuinely learned new skills from taking on all of these left field projects!

What can i make for you?

3 comments

  • Awesome work, and always a great collaborative experience when we make a request for a new piece! We love having unique items of furniture that often start from a pencil sketch and ultimately turn into the real thing! It’s great to see someone doing something they love – long may it continue (even if we have to get a bigger house to fit everything in!).

    Lee
  • I can honestly say that all the stuff you’ve made for us this year has made a massive positive difference to our lives during the pandemic. Having gym equipment to train on has kept me sane and the bits you’ve made for Buster has helped massively with pain management and kept him free of injury when I wasn’t able to get him his regular physio treatment. I’m also so proud to have somewhere I can hang all the medals I’ve achieved doing virtual challenges.
    Your blogs are a great read and very inspiring.

    Nicky Summers
  • Well done for everything you have achieved Jim. You are a very talented man. All your work looks fit for purpose & unique.

    Patsy Dye

Leave a comment