Behind the Scenes
UK Crafts Council Maker of the Month, September 2019
Angus was interviewed by Frannie Glass and in her article she describes his journey to become a leading designer maker.
Here are some extracts:
Angus’s practice consists of three fundamental pillars: design, craftsmanship and wood.
From industrial pharmaceutical design to a cabinet making course to working directly from a sustainable, co-owned Scottish woodland, these pillars developed alongside his career while nurturing his value system along the way.
….. Angus had taken a sabbatical and gone to Kenya to help build schools in the outback: “I’d got a slight realisation about how little you need to live on…. When I came back, I always had in the back of my mind – we’re generating this huge volume of plastic and where is it going? I started to think, this isn’t really what I want to do… I want to develop my own work that will be, in a lot of ways, more sustainable. And that’s when I started looking at wood”.
…. “A lot of the trees … are around 100-120 years old, while the root systems underneath are probably about 200-300 years old”. … “gnarled and old, coming out at different angles, pippy and knotty”
Now Angus embraces the eccentricities of wood that he may well have rejected in the early years of his practice: “I want to make it work,” he says, and he most certainly does.
Read the full article Angus Ross on Skill, Sustainability and Steam-bending on the Crafts Council website here.
Stunning portrait by Angus Blackburn for Scottish Field Magazine, The Luxury Issue on sale during September. It was great to see photographer Angus have a unique approach and compose one fabulous shot in the spray booth.
Our workshop is open until Sunday 15th September for Perthshire Open Studios.
Woodland and Workshop Open Day on 25th May
Our workshop in Aberfeldy will be open 10am – 4pm and a tour of Old Castle Wood will start at our workshop at 10.30 am.
The tour will last around two hours and will include at least one hour of walking. Angus will talk about using trees for fine furniture making: selecting, felling and milling and we will discuss managing a small woodland for bio-diversity and sustainability and improving access for the public.
This is a chance to walk in a lovely mixed native woodland with an under-storey of wild flowers. At some point there is always a wonderful carpet of bluebells. They have started early this year so hopefully the bluebells will still be good on the 25th!
Please contact us to book a place on the tour. Places are strictly limited.
Old Castle Wood is a beautiful mixed ancient woodland a few miles downstream from our workshop and we are actively involved in sustainably managing the woodland for timber, improved bio-diversity and to control non-native plants. Very selective felling happens in the winter and supplies us with our unique characterful oak.
You can read more about why we selectively fell these veteran trees, on our blog here.
Our studio-workshop is in Aberfeldy, Perthshire on the banks of the River Tay in the centre of Scotland. The workshop will be open 10am – 5pm for a rare chance to talk to our craftsmen/cabinetmakers. Do pop in if you can. There is no need to book to visit the workshop. I understand this is all too far away for many readers, and if so please contact us to arrange a visit at a time to suit you.
Country Living magazine, May 2019
Last year we had a wonderful photographer, Nato Welton, visit our bluebell wood during bluebell time. In Scotland this is usually late May/early June so it is a long time since his visit, and bluebell time still feels a long way off. However if you would like bluebells, workshops and country living please read the article by Kate Langrish in the magazine – on sale now.
Many thanks to photographer Nato Welton and Country Living for allowing us to share the images.
Please note that we are not “open at weekends” as stated in the article, but only by appointment.
We will be having a Workshop and Woodland Open Day on the 25th May. The workshop will be open to all, but the numbers for the woodland tour will be limited. I will set up an Eventbrite booking system soon, but do please email if you would like to reserve a place.
Old Castle Wood is a few miles downstream from the workshop and co-operatively owned by five families. We get together for work days and holidays, and lightly manage the wood to improve timber, bio-diversity and access for others. The wood is open to those who walk, cycle or paddle in.
To read the article please click the link below.
Our furniture is always designed by Angus Ross however we made an exception recently when we were commissioned by the Willow Tearooms Trust to make all the tables and chairs for one tearoom in the newly restored original Willow Tearoom on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. This building has international importance as the first building where Charles Rennie Mackintosh (along with his wife Margaret Macdonald ) designed all of the exterior and interior including furniture, lighting, tableware and gesso panels. The Willow Tearooms Trust have overseen the meticulous restoration of the building back to it’s condition at opening in 1903. It will fully re-open as “Mackintosh at the Willlow” along with a new visitors centre next door in September. There will be various booked events and limited opening through the summer.
We specialise in steam bending and this allowed us to invisibly strengthen the Ladderback chairs. Of the original 125 only a handful survive as the back rails were cut from solid wood, this way of making the curved shape is vulnerable to breaking. (Cheaper reproductions of ladder back chairs have straight back rails.) We cut the rails from solid and then steam-bent the rails to create the curve. Steam-bending means working with the grain, keeping the wood fibres intact, and manually pushing the intact fibres to slide over each other, when boiling hot and malleable, and therefore to take up the curved shape. Once dry this is a very strong component.
Images below show Steven working on the 3250 mortice and tenon joints on the chair backs (125 chairs x 13 ladder back rails x 2 sides) The ladder back tenons were hand trimmed with a Japanese saw.
Usually when making chairs with a drop-in seat, the chair would be made first and the drop-in seat made to fit second. In this heritage project the seats were to made like the originals with hand twisted rush – a very labour intensive process taking a day per seat. Therefore the seat bases were made first and sent out to a rush specialist (Tony Handley) and to two local artisans (Istvan and Karla) so that they had sufficient time to make 125.
Mike then made the chair fronts. All of these chairs had to be millimetre perfect to fit the rush seat bases.