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Grist for the grain

Words by Hannah Tapping | Images by Adj Brown

Working with wood from a creative perspective, woodturner Jamie Zennor considers his medium to be as much the artist as himself.

His relationship with wood began at school; in any spare time, Jamie could be found in the DT department creating something in 3D. Much of his formative years were immersed with creative people and environments as his mum, and subsequently both older siblings, were artists. Little wonder then, that his path would follow a similar line. Given the opportunity to set up a workshop at home, Jamie’s intimate relationship with wood was born in the form of his woodturning business, Zennor Made.

Unable to afford to buy wood in the early days, Jamie was fortunate to have friends with land where he would forage for interesting pieces of sycamore and oak. Exploring this micro-space made him realise that there was a unique and sustainable source of material on his doorstep. Tree surgeon friends would deliver unusual off-cuts for Jamie to work with and all from within a 20-mile radius of his workshop. “The most satisfying part of my work,” says Jamie, “is when I get offered a beautiful old tree that’s become diseased and has to be cut down; it’s like a dream come true because I get to go through the whole journey of the tree, using every party of it. When I see it, I can already visualise the finished pieces before I’ve even taken the wood in my hands.”

The resulting bowls and platters embrace not only the natural beauty of the wood but also its imperfections, as Jamie prefers to leave those ‘gnarly’ edges that others might cut out. In juxtaposition, his perfect wooden spheres allow the intricate grain pattern to be the focus of each piece. Jamie shys away from using any forms of chemicals, preferring to simply finish his pieces with hemp oil and beeswax. The resulting natural woodshavings are then returned to the soil as mulch for newly planted trees at a woodland project in south Cornwall.

Jamie was photographed in his workshop as part of photographer Adj Brown’s latest project, ‘Makers and Doers’, a series of images capturing Cornish artists, craft makers and creators with a sense of curiosity.


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