Woodturner. With wood, you work with what nature provides you with. It’s as you find it and the woodturner’s job is to show off those colours and that grain
What’s your background?
I am from Wales originally and I studied fine arts in Chelsea. I worked mainly as a musician before coming to Ireland in 2005.
My wife and I came here to pursue a different kind of life than we’d been living in London.
Around 2008/2009, I decided I would start woodturning. I had been exposed to it a few years earlier through an evening class. I wanted to see if I could grow a business from that interest, which I have.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
Typically, I am in the workshop from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Then the children start coming home from school and I usually stop work then.
If I have to, I’ll go out in the evening but usually that’s just to tidy up.
I divide the year into halves — I tend to gather a lot of trees during the winter and process them which means either planking them into planks for pieces of furniture or cutting them into what will be bowls or peppermills.
At this time of year, enquiries and orders are coming in, so I usually just tip away at them during the week.
Tell us about a recent/ favourite project or design you have worked on?
I’m working on a table with benches that’s from a single tree. I started making furniture about two to three years ago — it’s a new side to what I do, so I’m really enjoying that.
There’s a lot of hand-finishing to do, a lot of traditional techniques involved and that involves learning new skill.
I don’t use imported timber. It’s incredible the colour you get in native timber. You have to work with all the flaws and the cracks and the parts of it that might be rotted but that’s all part of the challenge.
When you have the finished product, it’s not going to look like anything else that anyone has.
What’s your design style?
With wood, you work with what natures provides you with.
It’s as you find it, and I think that the job of the woodworker is to show those colours and that grain off and not clutter it with too many details or additions. That’s the theory of the design.
What/who inspires your work?
I look to mid-century Danish designs where you keep it extremely simple —you don’t design on paper, just let the material guide you.
What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?
I don’t pay too much attention to trends. It’s one of the flaws in the wholesale model of sales — the pressure is always on the maker, even if you are established and you have a successful business, to come up with new ideas each year.
That to me is anathema to what it is we’re meant to be doing as craftspeople. I became a craftsperson to have a more meaningful relationship with the object, not to follow trends.
What’s your most treasured possession?
It would be something to do with the children — we have locks of their hair and their first pairs of shoes.
Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?
Joe Hogan, the basketmaker, is probably one of the biggest influences on me.
His philosophy and attitude to his craft is extremely inspiring.
What would be a dream project for you to work on?
I have set about filling the house with handmade furniture and objects, not just made by me but also by friends.
My aim is to live in a home that’s a reflection of the life that I’ve lived, that’s not just mass-produced.
Have you any design tips for us?
If you’re making something somebody uses, it has to feel good in the hand, which is often forgotten about.
The hand doesn’t like hard edges, it doesn’t like corners.
For example, when it comes to the peppermills I make, the first design I made had a hard edge on the handle, and I must have made a few hundred before I realised these aren’t very nice to hold.
It influenced the way I developed that product. It’s really the most simple and important element to balance — how something looks with how something feels in the hand.
mattjoneswoodturner.com; Facebook/Instagram: @mattjoneswoodturner