1n 1975, at the age of 16, Gary started a three year apprenticeship with a small woodturning company in Chesham called Joseph Reynolds. After 18 months he was put on piece work turning mainly peppermills and kitchen ware. This experience was to help enormously when he became self-employed in 1987. However, prior to this was a 10 year period with another woodturning firm turning stair balusters and chair parts. It was at this point that Gary became involved with Stewart Linford of High Wycombe who makes the famous Windsor Chair and exports world-wide. It is since becoming self-employed that Gary has made his mark on the woodturning scene, with success in competitions and articles of his work in various woodworking magazines. Exhibitions include the National Exhibition Centre Birmingham, Wembley, Axminster in Devon as well as woodturning clubs all over Great Britain, Belgium, France, Channel Islands, Ireland, Norway and two Utah Symposiums in Provo, Salt Lake City and Iceland. Gary has also demonstrated twice at the AWGB International Seminar at Warwick University. He is on the Register of Professional Turners and is considered one of the fastest and most accurate production woodturners in the U.K, one of only a few whose income comes solely from woodturning.
Gary has a customer base of approximately 400, some of these are supplying such places as Harrods and Liberty’s and has also produced work for the homes of the Duke of Westminster and British celebrities.
Gary has also produced tools for the woodturner, notably his round skew chisels which come in different sizes, lightpull drive, Box Scraper and his Easybead tool. He can turn his hand to spindle turning, bowl turning, hollow forms and twists and says that he will make anything from a lace bobbin to a billiard table leg.
Gary has been asked to teach on numerous occasions. You can often see him taking a Master Class at various shows and he has taught for three days at Axminster but due to the demands of his production business does not always have the time.
Nick Agar has become one of the most sought after instructors / workshop leaders and seminar presenters on the world woodturning stage. He is one of the most creative makers in the field and has an unsurpassed knowledge and understanding of the many processes that are now used in this creative medium. Specialising in surface enhancement and renowned for his wall sculptures, his award winning work often incorporates carving, airbrushing, ceramic and metal effects. Nick has inspired many woodturners with his work and has travelled across the world to demonstrate his skills.
With more than 25 years experience he has a great understanding of his medium. Choosing burrs and intriguing or figured timber for the majority of his work - exposing nature's treasures beneath the bark.
Inspired by organic forms, pottery, sea life, ancient cultures and his natural surroundings at his riverside studio, he specialises in hollow forms, large diameter work, and surface enhancement. His award-winning work often incorporates carving, weaving and metalwork.
In addition to exhibiting widely and appearing at international conferences both as a demonstrator and a judge, Nick is in constant demand for commissions from collectors, his wide range of clients including HRH Prince of Wales, Dukes, Duchesses and the Royal jewellers, Aspreys. He and his work have also featured on BBC and ITV lifestyle television programmes.
Nick is a member of the Worshipful Company of Turners.
Nick is Patron of the Max Carey Woodturning Trust. He is co author of the book "Woodturning Evolution", an elected member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, the AWGB and AAW and a Registered Professional Turner.
"My passion for wood started at an early age, and with the love and encouragement of my family I started woodturning as a hobby. My parents were very supportive enabling me to attend Parnham House for week long courses. Leaving school at 17, I attended Buckingham College in High Wycombe from where I graduated aged 21 with a BA HONS in Furniture Design and Management. I enjoy the challenge of making complex items of furniture and worked in this field for 6 years. After I was made redundant I took up a position that enables me both to teach my turning skills but also to hone and develop them further. I have now been there for nearly a decade. I now make a range of turned items ranging from commissions to craft shop regulars; each is produced to the same exacting standards.
Much of my work is very simple and minimalist, using flowing curves and the natural grain of the materials. I prefer to select the more unusual woods which have interesting grain patterns which, when combined with simple shapes bring pieces to life. I feel that the direction of my work has been greatly influenced by traditional shapes and curves combined with the ascetic influences of Far Eastern Art".
Jason's aims for the future are very simple, which is to keep doing what he enjoys: "Turning is something as creative as painting or sculpture; I only wish that it was accepted as the creative art form that it has become," he comments. The development of the range of boxes Jason makes is always growing, with fresh ideas coming to mind, but he feels he just needs to make more time to get these made and reduce the wood pile. See more examples of his work on his website
Jason comments that he thinks wood is an amazing material, with such a variety of colours, grain patterns, textures and density, and these natural features have always been part of his interest with different timbers: "Each piece is unique," he comments. "I always try to bring these natural features out, without the need of hiding behind stains or added surface treatment. To me the wood has to be the interest."
Each piece of timber that Jason uses is totally unique and therefore he feels deserves to be made into something as interesting and unique as the wood itself. "I hate wasting wood. I tend to keep all the little bits of exotic wood offcuts and these are stored with the hope of being useful someday," he explains. He continues: "I enjoy my turning for what it is: a creative method of taking a natural material and shaping it by hand into a finished object, unlike making an item of furniture that can take weeks, the time at the lathe is a lot quicker to have that completed object within your hands, and as long as that continues then I will always have a lathe as a way of allowing me this freedom to make an item in this modern mass-produced world".
Melvyn started turning in 1980, and by 1986 turned professional, leaving his job as an educational publisher’s area manager. By 1990 he was creating his signature multiple rim ‘Sea Flower’ forms, and gaining an international reputation. Alongside this was the development of his unique tools and bevels.
In the early 90s he was in demand for demonstrating across the UK, and being a frontline demonstrator at the Dublin Seminar, which led to tours of the USA, presenting at Symposiums and demonstrating/teaching/exhibiting across 27 States and 7 provinces of Canada, then France and Luxembourg.
At the same time he was coming to the attention of galleries and collectors, and has many pieces in private collections, and public galleries/art museums, such as the Detroit Institute of Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art, de Young Museum - San Francisco, Minneapolis Institute of Art and many others.
At home he has gained a reputation for his School of Woodturning, and received course participants from 33 countries, as well as 2 times frontline demonstrator at the AWGB seminars, and exhibited widely.
Other activities including helping run the family B & B at Nut Tree Farm, healing – especially The Golden Healing Room, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Green Wedmore, organic gardening, planting over 200 trees, and previously played pedal steel guitar, in the now defunct Whiskey Canyon band.
After 40 years in academic Medicine as Professor of Radiological Sciences at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital Michael retired and decided to take up Woodturning.
Firstly a course at West Dean College then monthly sessions with David Reeks who has remained a friend and mentor. Michael has sold privately, undertaken commissions and had 4 exhibitions. From the outset all sales income has been donated to charities, over the last 6 years exclusively to Freedom from Torture, the UK charity which cares for torture survivors seeking asylum in this country. Michael also chairs the SE London branch of Freedom from Torture supporters.
" I now recognise what extremely hard work it is to make a living from woodturning, this makes me even more grateful to our professional turners who gave up valuable time to create these beautiful pieces for charity."
Reg is a woodturner working in the Cotswolds.
He is on the Professional register supported by the Worshipful Company of Turners, Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Turners, a freeman of the City of London.
Reg is the 3rd Master Turner of the Worshipful Company.
A life member of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain also past Chairman and international Seminar organiser.
A member of the American Association of Woodturners and the Society of Ornamental Turners.
His work has won awards at:
The Worshipful Company of Turners
The Midlands Woodworking show
The International Woodturning Show
(Alexandra Palace and Wembley)
The Society of Ornamental Turners
The Guild of Irish Woodturners
Ray Key BEM
"My work embraces minimalism; my quest is to produce objects of beauty and elegant simplicity. I am a great believer of the object as a whole; not a disjointed assemblage of different ones. ‘Keep it simple stupid’ ‘let the wood speak for itself’ and ‘if in doubt leave it out’ are my design bywords".
Ray says about his life as a wood turner “from an early age I knew wood was my medium. In 1958 I became an apprentice Pattern Maker; woodturning was part of the job. Completion of my training saw me work with fibre glass and clay, wood remained my first love and turning in particular. In 1965 my first lathe was purchased. In 1973 I turned my back on industry to become a full time turner. What has followed these past 43 years could not have been foreseen or imagined.”
“The world wide growth of turning organisations, seminars, workshops, hobby turning, equipment development etc. is unbelievable. Perhaps the most significant and important development of the ancient craft is that it is now accepted as an ‘art form’. My commitment and involvement with national and international woodturning causes has been all embracing. In retrospect it may have had a negative effect on my growth as a turner (little time to develop ideas)".
Ray's work is in numerous public and private collections, including the V&A, Fitzwilliam Manchester and Birmingham Museums in the UK. In the USA, Contemporary Craft Museum, Honolulu, Detroit and Minneapolis Institutes of Arts. Museums in Germany and Malaysia also hold his work. He has travelled widely demonstrating and teaching woodturning in many countries in the world.
He was the founding chairman in 1987 of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain, made a life member in 1997 and President in 1998. In 2001 the American Association of Woodturners awarded him lifetime membership (the only non American to be afforded this honour).
In 2002 he became a Freeman by Presentation of The Worshipful Company of Turners and in 2012 The Worshipful Company of Turners presented Ray their first ever ‘Master in Turning’ award. In 2015 Ray was awarded the BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the craft of Wood Turning.
David's interest in turning started at school at age of 15 where he turned wood and metal. Unfortunately due to his father's severe illness he was forced to run the family motorcycle business which he did for 40 years.
The 1987 storm felled a large number of trees in his garden and rather than burn them, as he was advised, he bought a second hand lathe and his interest in turning was rekindled.
Over the past 13 years he has tried to bring a more artistic approach to his turning rather than produce the run of the mill general objects normally associated with turners. Burrs and spalted timbers are his favourite and he tries to use the natural features in the wood to enhance his work. The introduction of colour to his work has opened up an entirely new dimension and some of his large decorative platters have won awards at several international shows.
His main outlet for his work is exhibitions which are held at the RHS Wisley and Wakehurst Place in Sussex. He also supplies several National Trust shops and galleries around Kent and Surrey.
In recent years David has tried to cut down on the production side of his work as producing around 1000 objects a year can be rather hard work - some of his vases are 2ft tall.
David now runs a successful woodturning school where he hopes to pass on the turning skills he has developed to his students. He can also be seen demonstrating at most of the woodworking shows and at clubs around the country and recently demonstrated in France and America.
David is on the register of the Worshipful Company of Turners.
Simon has been woodturning from the age of 11 and at the age of 26, was one of the youngest to be on the register of professional turners.
12 years on, Simon has vast experience in demonstrating to wood turning clubs across the UK, including being a full presenter for the UK premier seminar at Loughbourgh University and tutor for craft supplies in France.
Simon also makes bagpipes, and is the only smallpipe maker on the register of professional turners. Simon uses modern tools like gun drill bits to obtain highly polished bores for the very best sound. Combined with age old hand turning skills, the finished pipes really do stand out from the crowd! The pipes are finished with a shellac (French polish) finish that gives a fine hard wearing finish that shows the beauty of the timber without looking varnished. Simon can also cast and turn jewellery grade pewter, which is added to top range pipes as beads in mounts.
Simon offers teaching courses and demonstrations on a wealth of turning techniques, from his workshop in Dedham Vale, Essex
I have been turning full time since 1974. I only use English hardwoods because there are so many beautiful timbers grown here and I am concerned that timbers sourced from abroad may not be sustainably harvested. Most of my production is of useful pieces such as salad bowls, platters and chopping boards for kitchen-ware shops notably David Mellor and Divertimenti. I also turn pieces on private commission to designs I am given.
I supply galleries such as the Devon Guild of Craftsman in Bovey Tracey, and Lantic Gallery both in Devon. For these, and for exhibitions, I like to make one-off pieces such as the Trunnion boxes illustrated and pieces which exploit the natural features of the wood such as the Mulberry bowls. These pieces were turned to commemorate a tree that was of sentimental value to the owners but had blown down. They were turned soon after the event when the wood was unseasoned and because they were turned thinly they warped interestingly rather than cracked.
I teach beginners and more advanced pupils to turn wood in my own workshop and at West Dean College in West Sussex and demonstrate to woodturning clubs at home and abroad.
I have written 5 books on the Woodturning and countless articles for "Woodturning" magazine. There is more information about how I work and Course details on my website.
"I was born in the Buckinghamshire village of Holmer Green in 1942, and played as a child in the local Beech woods. The countryside and the trades and traditions of those that shaped it over centuries have always fascinated me and influenced my work.
I have spent a lifetime researching, recording and collecting anything about the rural past and today am a well-known artist craftsman, demonstrator, international lecturer and photo-journalist.
I am still actively recording traditional crafts, local landscape and history via photography and video and still appear occasionally on TV."
Stuart Mortimer lives in Hampshire, England with his wife Linda who gives him inspiration and is his strongest critic.
He is a retired Police Inspector who became a proficient amateur turner before his retirement in 1989.
Following his retirement he won several National competitions after which he started to demonstrate, judge and write for National and International magazines. His reputation grew at home and abroad. He is now well known and admired in international wood turning circles for his variety of work, fresh ideas and spiral work. He travels widely attending seminars and exhibitions as a sought after teacher and demonstrator.
He is very keen to encourage young turners and people into the Craft.
Stuart’s work often features some form of spiral work, an example is his popular twisted goblet first produced in 1969 and his twisted hollow form with a twisted finial, his work is collected throughout the world by private collectors and museums alike.
On 28th October 2014 Stuart was awarded the title of ‘Master Turner’ by the Worshipful Company of Turners. The certificate states ‘in recognition of a lifetime of contribution and outstanding achievement in the art and mystery of the craft of turning’. Stuart is one of three turners to be so honoured in present times, the others being Ray Key and Reg Hawthorne.
He was presented with the award by The Lord Mayor of London Dame Fiona Woolf accompanied by Col. John Bridgeman, Master of the Turners Company.
Stuart was elected to the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Turners by presentation on 5th July 2007. This meant that he could also become a Freeman of the City of London which he did on 17th March 2008.
He was admitted to the Livery of the Worshipful Company of Turners on 17th September 2008.
He was recently commissioned to make 6 finials for the celebration thrones for her Majesty the Queen, as seen on television, the thrones are now in the Permanent Royal Collection.
He is the author of ‘Techniques of Spiral Work’ and has produced a video/DVD entitled ‘Wet turning with a difference’. A lot of his work is topped off and easily identified by a twisted finial that has become a distinctive feature or trade mark, in other words his signature work.
He is the holder of the World Record for the largest bowl turned out of one piece of wood in 1997 in the USA authenticated and certified by the Guinness book of records.
At 48 years old Les Thorne has spent the whole of his life involved in the timber industry, first as a saw doctor then as a company director and now as a woodturner.
Les has developed “No Turning Back” into a successful hand turning business taking commissions both large and small both in size and production runs.
Over the last 18 years Les has put a lot of time in developing his presentation and teaching and is sought after for his demonstration skills in the UK, America and Europe.
A tool developer, magazine article contributor and DVD maker means that he is always kept busy both in the workshop and out on the road.
Texturing and colouring has increasingly been appearing more and more in his current work, this is partly due to naturally beautiful timbers being more difficult to obtain with the cost becoming prohibitive.
Les was awarded the Worshipful Company of Turners bursary award in 2007 which enabled him to spend more time with some other innovative turners in the UK.
Anthony (Tony) Southey, born 1940 in London during the London blitz. Having survived the war the family moved to West Malling Kent in 1949. Educated at West Malling boys and then on to Holmsdale Secondary until 1955. Worked in local paper mills and then joined Kent Ambulance Service in the '60s.
Studied part time to qualify as a Chiropodist/Podiatrist in 1971 until retirement in 2005. "In 1984 I purchased a lathe to enable my son-in-law to do some reproduction work and antique restoration. He gave me a little instruction but I didn't really have the time to devote to it. However, when my retirement was approaching I realised that I would need something to occupy my idle fingers.
Having heard of a local Woodturning club, I went along to see what they did. I then had my first lesson from a Professional woodturner, a big Scotsman by the name of Kieth Donald. The bug had now bitten, I purchased a small lathe but I soon found that the little Axminster lathe was not man enough to do what I really wanted to do so I put in a bid for the Poolewood lathe that the club was selling.
I went on to join the club's committee, where I have been more or less since I joined them in 2003. I spent most of my club time arranging professional woodturning demonstrations, looking after club equipment etc.
As far as my woodturning is concerned, I took further courses with David Reeks, who became, along with our chairman Peter Martin and secretary David Cheeseman (now retired), very good personal friends.
My work has stood me in good stead with the club and with the AWGB who have twice requested items for their road shows".
After teaching chemistry for many years, Bob took early retirement to become a full time professional woodturner. He is a member of the Register of Professional Turners and lives and works in Bingley, in West Yorkshire.
He is a frequent contributor of articles on woodturning to both ‘Woodturning’ and ‘The Woodworker’ magazines and is much in demand as a demonstrator and teacher.
He says this about himself…
“When I meet other woodturners for the first time they sometimes ask me what I make. No matter how many times it happens, it always confounds me. I want to say that I'll make 'anything you want, as long as it’s round', after the style of Henry Ford's 'any colour you like, so long as it’s black', but the question always makes me feel slightly inadequate because I haven't got that 'single item' speciality that seems to be expected of me”.
Although he still enjoys making the woodturner’s usual spectrum of bowls, boxes, hollow forms and, more commercially, staircase spindles, newels, table legs and so on, Bob is currently developing his own definitive style of work. He has begun exploring ways in which turned objects can be cut and reconstructed, as well as making them more interactive, to be rearranged to create different effects, rather than simply viewed from a single perspective.
Despite lacking any formal training in design, Bob has achieved success with these pieces and says ‘when a piece has no obvious function or use, it may be perceived as art or simply dismissed as worthless. It’s up to the viewer to decide and, fortunately for me, opinions on my work have tended to be favourable.’
On leaving school, Mark Baker worked as a carpenter and joiner and for a local building company for five years. The work was varied and covered all the usual things but also included working on listed buildings – those which had historical importance and were thereby protected – and timber-framed houses. After a brief spell working with a metal fabrication company working with copper, brass, aluminium and steel – some of which was handcrafting, he went to work for a local charity to help set up craft workshops for autistic adults.
He obtained teaching qualifications for teaching adults with special needs and helped develop a vibrant, fun and highly focused learning environment. After this Mark went on to be a product manager at Robert Sorby in Sheffield and after three years there was approached to be Editor of Woodturning magazine. He went on to be Group Editor for all the woodworking magazine titles at GMC.
After seven years he left GMC and took up the position of Managing Director at Hegner UK, but continued some freelance work on Woodturning magazine whilst away.
He returned to GMC publications after two years at Hegner UK and resumed his position as Group editor for the four woodworking magazines and currently directly edits both Woodturning and Woodcarving magazines.
Mark loves working with shapes exploring form and seeing what can be done with them. The classical and ancient forms feature heavily in Mark’s work but he always tries to develop and tweak things further. He is very conscious of the woods selected, going a long way to find specific woods and cuts to maximise both the form and the look. At times he uses colour and texture to enhance work and is always trying new things.
Mark has demonstrated extensively at clubs, symposia and other shows and events in the USA, Canada, UK and mainland Europe and has written numerous articles, three books on woodturning: 'Woodturning: A Workshop Guide to Shapes', 'Wood for Woodturners'and recently a new book / DVD combination called 'Woodturning: A Craftsman’s Guide'.