What sets you up for a day in the workshop?
Coffee! More seriously though, I dream about turning and come up with all sorts of ideas in bed and can’t wait to try them in the workshop. It has got so bad that I had a nightmare last night that the scratches in a bowl I was sanding would not come out!
Do you have a favourite process, or type of wood to work with?
I love trying new techniques and there are so many that just as I am getting to grips with one, I am moving onto the next. I started off by doing a lot of segmented work which culminated in what I still consider to be my best work to date, but I’ve recently been creating flower bowls and enjoying the process of embellishing. As far as wood goes, I love the massive variety of colour and grain found in exotic hardwoods. All my woods are obtained from Forestry Stewardship Council approved sources or recycled. When we had our front door replaced, I cut up the mahogany frame and made a number of small bowls from it.
George Shapland, trading as Butterwood, creates statement turned wood pieces from his Wiltshire based workshop.
Hi George, How did you get into woodturning?
I have always had a passion for wood and turned my first bowl at school when I was about 15, but was frustrated by the fact that there was only one lathe and 15 boys all wanting to have a go. My solution was to climb into the workshop through a window at the weekend and have the place to myself!
I later joined the Army and although I always hankered after a lathe, career, family and the lack of a workshop prevented me from doing anything more. However, after finally settling in Wiltshire in a house with a garage, I bought my first lathe in 2007 and started to play again. Unfortunately my ambition was far greater than my ability and left me a little uninspired so I gave it up for the time being. Fast forward 10 years and on leaving the army in 2017, I decided to do a course with the Master Turner, Stuart Mortimer which rekindled my passion and he both encouraged and inspired me to become a full time turner and then go professional. I have never regretted it and have never felt happier or more fulfilled.
What personal touches do you like to include in your work?
Each piece is different and I often do not have a clear idea of how it will turn out until I start work on it, so I suppose it evolves. The exception to this is my segmented work which is designed on graph paper to allow me to minimise waste when cutting the wood. I sign each piece with my initials using a pyrography pen (like a small soldering iron) and commissioned a set of hall marked sterling silver discs with the Butterwood logo to insert into the base of my special pieces.
What’s next for Butterwood?
I’m slowly working on my goal to gain a national reputation as a turner. That said, I am really looking forward to the end of lockdown and being able to exhibit and start meeting people at events locally again.
See more of George’s work at butterwood.co.uk