Tom Raffield is one of the many talented designer-makers and artists taking part in Open Studios Cornwall (25th May- 2 June). Here in his own words Tom explains how purchasing a woodland in Cornwall made all his dreams come true.
It has always been my dream to work in amongst the trees, in a woodland and to work from home. When my wife Danie and I bought Nanskerris, set in the Trevarno valley, West Cornwall in 2011 both these dreams became reality.
Nanskerris is an old gamekeeper’s lodge that was part of the Trevarno estate, and is tucked away between two sections of mixed broadleaf woodland. When we bought it, the house was being swallowed up by the trees surrounding it as nature had been left to its own devices for many years.
Our first job was to fell all of the trees which were in danger of falling onto the house and barns and we decided to use these wisely and turn a lot of the felled timber into our new woodland workshop. A lot of the ash and beech has been kept for use in making our furniture and all of the smaller bits that we couldn’t put through the sawmill to make planking we chopped up and use to keep our house warm. I’m really keen that none of the natural materials go to waste.
We picked a perfect spot for the new workshop, in a clearing where only one small Sweet Chestnut tree had to be felled, but still amongst the trees overlooking the Trevarno valley. A new track had to be carved out between the trees to allow access and we then dug a level plot to build on. As we were crafting a timber workshop we decided to build the structure on stilts, using minimal concrete for the foundations.
Once the timber from the felled trees was dry and the structures were up it was time to clad the buildings with all the Norway Spruce we had planked up from the woodland. This was a really lovely part of the process; to use all of the trees from just 100 metres away for the cladding of the workshop.
We moved into the new workshop after Christmas 2013. Although still not quite complete, it is amazing to work underneath all of the trees in the woodland and be making things in a custom-built space which is perfect for steam bending our creations.
Tom’s Woodland Workshop at Naskerris will be open during Open Studios Cornwall from Saturday May 25th to Sunday June 2nd. You’ll be able to see how the products are made and view them in the showroom.
To find out more about Tom and the other artists taking part in this year’s Open Studios Cornwall event please visit http://www.creativeskills.org.uk
Image credits: Tom Raffield / http://www.tomraffield.com/