Maker in Wood
Sophie Heron, 24, is based in a small, charming village named Diseworth in Derbyshire. Hidden away in her workshop at the bottom of her parents beautiful garden, the sound of springtime birds chirping in the trees, Sophie is busy at work carefully producing beautiful pieces of functional wooden kitchen utensils. A self taught maker, Sophie has been working with wood for only 3 years and it’s obvious that she has a natural talent for it. Just recently she finished a commission for well known chef Sat Bains. Pretty good going for a young girl.
Below – Sophie working in her garden workshop.
First of all…how did you get into making with wood?
I started out working with reclaimed softwoods as a hobby to keep my hands busy before I got in to carving. I was unhappy in my previous job and working with wood was such a radical change from what I was doing that it was easy to become lost in the process. Looking back now I think I was after an escape back to the outdoors which, as I was growing up, was the only place you could ever find me; it’s been such a happy transition making it my full time career.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by shapes and colours in nature and how light interacts with a textured surface. In making, I am inspired by pieces that are useful and beautiful and those that quietly exist in a person’s daily life. I read a lot and Margaret Atwood inspires me to (attempt to) be a bad ass women with something to say! I listen to her when I’m working and I think she’s an incredibly creative person.
Outside of the workshop there are bits of wood everywhere.
Which woods do you prefer working with?
I only use locally sourced (wherever possible) British hardwoods, especially those that I know the history of, or those that come with an interesting story. Recently I’ve begun working with Sweet Chestnut which is such a common British tree, but often overlooked for woodworking. It’s full of tannin’s and reacts well with a natural black dye I am experimenting with, and also has a really open grain that looks beautiful as is, or when sandblasted reveals the amazing patterning of the growth rings of the tree. I’m excited to see what I can create with it.
Making a Bowl
I took some shots of Sophie making a bowl from Oak. The finished product can been seen in the ‘finished products’ section at the bottom of this article.
As well as spoons and bowls what other products do you make and what do you enjoy making mostly?
Spoons and bowls has been pretty much it until my commission for Sat Bains, which sounds crazy, but there’s so many varieties of each that I hope it doesn’t get too repetitive! I have only recently begun making bowls through turning on a lathe and I adore the process, it’s really meditative watching a smooth, spherical object form from a rough lump of wood, so bowls are always the most enjoyable to make.
This caught my eye when looking around the workshop. Thought it was pretty funky.
Well behaved women seldom make history?
I was given this card by my mum who has always encouraged me and my two sisters in all of our unconventional exploits! I have it in the workshop to remind me to be brave in moments when it’s easy to doubt the path of a self-employed maker.
Can you tell us a little about the commission for chef, Sat Bains?
Sat called me up after he saw my work on display at Ben Edmonds workshop in Darley Mills. It’s by far the biggest and hardest commission I’ve ever had but Sat has been brilliant to work with and gave me a really open design brief for the pieces he was after. I ended up making 200 pieces for his restaurant re-design including bread bowls, spoons, cutlery holders and canapé trays, and from this I’ve felt my work being pushed to a whole new level.
Carving a Spoon
I took some shots of Sophie making a spoon from Oak. The finished product can been seen in the ‘finished products’ section at the bottom of this article.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m in the process of designing a new range of products for which I’ve had to learn so many new techniques and processes. I’m hoping the range will have a really cohesive look to it with lots of contrasts in texture and only a couple of really beautiful timbers and colours. I’m more excited than I have been for a long time making these new pieces; it’s been a lengthy process achieving the style I was after, but hopefully it will all come together soon.
You can join Sophie’s mailing list at www.madebyherons.com to keep up to date with her latest ranges.
Some Finished Products
A small collection of hand made products Sophie had in her workshop.
Photography © Derby Makers Project