About

I am a traditional green woodworker and live in Great Bourton, north of Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Martin Damen''s home in Great Bourton 

While at university as a mature student in Aberystwyth during 2000 I had a chance meeting with Bob Shaw, a local woodland owner and craftsman.  By the end of our first meeting we had agreed that in exchange for a day's labour, Bob would teach me woodland management and traditional craft.  Thus started my career as a traditional craftsman.

Martin Damen using a axe

The following summer Bob kindly invited me to live in his wood and to help make desks and benches for an outdoor classroom in Aberystwyth.

In the middle-ground is the old traction engine caravan I lived in and one of the workshops is in the distance.

In the woods in Wales

Bob's Wood 2001

Initially, I focused on making rustic furniture and field items such as cleft ash hurdles.  Although I still turn items on a traditional foot-powered pole lathe, I now specialise in hand carving bowls, platters and spoons.
Hand carved wooden bowl and spoons in oak
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.  Mostly I use British timbers including ash, beech, sycamore, lime, field maple and fruitwoods, such as cherry or damson.Local wood
Secondly, only traditional 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. 

Carving a wooden spoon with a knife by Steve Kenward

Photograph by Steve Kenward

While my approach is not suitable for modern mass production, each item is unique.  To me it is essential that the items I produce are functional.  My aim is to produce something that is useful and a pleasure to look at, handle and use everyday.  In doing so, I endeavour to utilise the natural characteristics and features of the wood.  

Keen to promote the appreciation and practice of traditional crafts, I regularly do demonstrations, including Art in Action in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and run spoon-carving courses and other workshops.

Martin Damen by Steve Kenward

Photograph by Steve Kenward