Hi Mike, tell us more about Skapa Woodstuffs and what you do…
Skapa Woodstuffs was born out of anthropological research I was doing; studying how different ways of working wood give rise to different identities within practice. I study wood because of my background in archaeology - it rarely survives in comparison to metal, stone, bone and ceramics. I study creativity and wood is one of the oldest materials to have been worked by human hand. I'm interested in design and how creativity gives rise to identity and culture (or cultural identity). Everything I do has an archaeological incentive. My work explores the relation to place, through creativity. This is why I place so much emphasis on the source of every piece I make.
When did you start working with wood?
I started working wood about 2 years ago now - it's totally changed my life!
Is it always spoons you make?
Spoons are a great starter because they seem relatively simple in form but there's loads of little tweaks you put in there to add some flare. I love making bowls, dishes, chopping boards, cups and sometimes pendants.
Where do you source the wood from?
I source my wood predominantly in SW2 or SW9... wherever it turns up! If I see tree surgeons working I'll nip over (the sound of chainsaws in the street has become something of a blessing). I also go around parks and have foraged wood a lot in Brockwell Park and Hampstead Heath many times.
Where do you work from and what is a standard day in the studio like?
My workshop in on the border with Streatham and Mitcham. I get in there early doors and stay ’til late. I tend to zone out while I'm there and 9 hours will fly by! I usually put some music on and get amongst it.
Why is wood such a great material to work with?
Wood is an amazing material to work. By its very nature it is inconsistent, meaning you have to work with it, negotiating every knot and nuance as they arise. This means that every piece I make is different from the last. Like I touched upon earlier, wood is one of the oldest materials humans have made things with and so there is a long history of techniques that our bodies remember. When I used to get timber from the woods near my mum's house and listen to the sound of my axe ricocheting off of the trees I'd think 'just how long have humans been making this noise?!' The sensory experiences of working wood are engrained into our bodies and deeply rooted in our cultures (both puns intended). Exploring these themes has come to define my work.
What can we expect to see from you at the Crafty Fox market in Peckham?
At the market I'll be working some pine wood that turned up outside my flat in Brixton. I'll be making some kitchenware and discussing the human need to create objects - why making makes us who we are. I'll be touching on design theory and the history of hand tools. I'll talk a little about heritage and innovation but will keep it light (not toooo geeky). I'll also be relating my workshop to a project I'm currently doing with the British Museum - interpreting Bronze Age (roughly 3000 year old) woodworking tools.