I am Martin Damen, Maker of Hand-Carved Spoons & Bowls living in Great Bourton, north of Banbury, Oxfordshire.
My career as a traditional craftsman started while I was a mature student at Aberystwyth University during 2000. During a chance meeting with Bob Shaw, a local woodland owner and craftsman we agreed that in exchange for a day's labour, Bob would teach me woodland management and traditional craft. Initially, I focused on making rustic furniture and field items such as cleft ash hurdles. Although I still occasionally turn items on a traditional foot-powered pole lathe, I now specialise in hand carving bowls, platters and spoons.
There are two characteristics that apply to all the work that I produce. Firstly, I follow traditional practice and use wood that has been locally sourced. All of my work is made from timber sourced from sustainably managed woodlands within 10 miles of the workshop. The trees have been felled as part of normal woodland management operations and not explicitly for the making of spoon or bowls. Consequently, the mix of species used can vary from year to year. However, the species that I most frequently use include sycamore, beech, cherry and other fruitwoods.
Secondly, only traditional hand tools and skills are used. Typically a small number of tools are required and emphasis is placed on their effective use and an appreciation of the material being worked. Consequently, everything is hand-crafted and not machine-made.
While my approach is not suitable for modern mass production, it does mean that every item is unique. To me it is essential that the items I produce are functional. My aim is to produce something that is not only useful but also a pleasure to look at and use everyday.
I teach a range of standard one and two day course packages on a private tuition basis at my workshop. I am also happy to provide "tailor-made" courses to meet customers' specific requirements.