John Lloyd Furniture School:
John Lloyd introduces us to work from students at his furniture school.
For me, it’s always been about the hand-skills. When I decided to be a furniture maker I wanted to use my hands to make exceptional things from wood – I wanted to be a craftsman. Today hand-skills are still at the centre of everything that we do at our workshops and school in the heart of Sussex, they are the foundation upon which everything else is built.
The first 12-week term of a long course here is practically machine-free, we are teaching craftsmen and women to be confident in their skills and abilities and giving them an in-depth understanding of wood and all of its many foibles and eccentricities, we must know how this remarkable material likes to be treated if we are to get the best from it. An in-depth understanding of techniques and materials, old-school and cutting edge, all form a vital part of the initial training, this together with a possible 55 hours of bench time each week and a maximum of six students, means that the acquisition of new skills is rapid and efficient. Combine these skills with training on our up-to-date machinery and you have the perfect balance for a fulfilling and viable furniture-making career. More than 25 years of running a successful business and almost as many years teaching and writing about woodwork and furniture give me the perfect platform for running a school that encourages, and allows, people of all ages and from all walks of life to realise their potential to make beautiful things from wood. Teaching is an important business and not something that I will entrust to anyone else, student numbers are kept small and personal attention is maintained at a high level. Separate workshops on-site create a lively and supportive environment where former students are busy building successful businesses, designing and making exceptional pieces of furniture – these workshops never fail to give huge inspiration to both me and my current students. This is a showcase of the remarkable work being produced in these workshops.
To learn more about training with John Lloyd or to arrange a workshop visit, go to: www.johnlloydfinefurniture.co.uk
‘While I was studying music at university I decided that I wanted to do something that was more hands-on, practical and creative. I had previously done product design at school where I learnt basic woodworking skills. I found John Lloyd Fine Furniture offered me what I was looking for, a creative outlet and a chance to learn traditional hand-skills, which has given me the knowledge and confidence to design and create furniture. ‘This ash (Fraxinus excelsior) side table was inspired by 1970s retro furniture. I wanted to explore techniques that would allow me to easily reproduce the side table. So I experimented with laminating using layers of veneer pressed in formers and steam bending for the edging. I wanted the table to be functional yet modern and have a very organic form that would draw people’s attention.’
For more about Chris Hinks, see: www.brightwoodfurniture.com
‘After working in the model making and antique toy restoration industry for many years, I undertook intensive training with John in fine furniture making and antique furniture restoration. Under John’s excellent tuition I developed my hand skills in traditional cabinetmaking and carving to follow my passion for creating and restoring furniture. ‘I enjoy the varied challenges that working with furniture provides. From creating a bespoke or period-specific copy, to seamlessly restoring a jigsaw puzzle of damaged parts to their original glory, no two projects are the same. ‘I was commissioned to create a replica of Michelangelo’s intricate model for the facade of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. Following an hour’s visit to the original to take photographs, I created this 3-metre long model using many of the same carving and moulding techniques used to create the original piece nearly 500 years before.’
‘My work takes inspiration from the “organic functionalism” of Scandinavian design, where I have lived and worked. ‘I make only bespoke chairs. In my pieces, I aim to combine the organic form of wood with the functional requirements of comfort, practicality and purpose. Chairs are there to be touched,
felt and used. I landscape the contact points; the arms, the back rest and the seat and contrast these with the harder structural components. I keep the design simple, exclude unnecessary detailing and remove any wood that is not needed. The aim is for elegant, simple, organic furniture that celebrates the meeting
of wood and individual.’
For more about Martin Spencer, see: www.martinspencerchairs.co.uk
‘I finished training with John back in 2013 and since then have been putting the classical skills and techniques I learnt into building Petrel Furniture. I make elegant contemporary pieces of furniture exclusively using British woods. Working to commission and for interior designers I have developed a reputation for pared back elegance and crisp work. ‘This whisky cabinet was a private commission. I choose English walnut (Juglans regia) and walnut burr, to evoke the caramel and smoke flavours within a fine whisky, and matched the grain throughout the cabinet into one seamless flow.’
‘Studying Product Design at university made me realise how much I enjoyed working with my hands. What attracted me to the course with John Lloyd was the individuality expressed in the students’ work as well as the fine craftsmanship displayed. The course allowed me a lot of creative freedom supported by thorough understanding of the fundamentals and expert guidance. ‘For my final project of the course I wanted to challenge myself; to do this I angled the sides and front of a fairly simple cabinet by five degrees. The outside is a practice in flowing grain, across drawer fronts and around the mitres of the carcass. The inside houses traditionally fitted drawers with compound angle dovetail joints.
‘The bookcase, commissioned for a beautiful Victorian house needed to feel grand. To achieve this I looked to classical architecture for inspiration and proportions. Using European walnut gives the piece a very warm feel. I used European walnut burr for the pillars, these are polished to a very high sheen to provide a textural contrast. The herringbone back is made from hand-cut bog oak veneer and provides a contemporary twist to quite a traditional piece.