4. A Life in the day of a Master... rocking horse maker
When does your working day start and end?
I no longer have any regular working hours. I might get up at 3, work in my office for a couple of hours, go back to bed, get up again, and so on... by breakfast - a grapefruit, cereal and toast, I’ll have drunk at least six cups of tea (and be exhausted).
What are you working on now?
Having recently designed and made (with a little help from a small army of assistants) the biggest hand carved rocking horse in the world (alia Bigger Bertie), I am now working on a design for a very simple rocking horse for home assembly - so simple to put together that even complete novice wood workers will be able to make it, and attractive enough to delight both rider and maker. So a tough challenge.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Who knows? God?
Will you listen to music today as you work or do you need silence? (if yes, what music?)
Silence, the music’s inside my head (I think the technical term is tinitus).
Have you ever had a student where you recognised raw talent?
Yes, sometimes students surprise themselves, and me, and I am pleased for them.
What’s the daftest thing one of your students did in a workshop?
Just after I’d given my opening ‘always keep your fingers behind the cutting edge’ speech, a student leaned over the bench while holding a carving gouge and managed to stab himself in his stomach. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt too badly, a plaster patched his wound but the blood ruined his shirt. I now include a warning about keeping bellies and other bodily parts out of the way of edge tools.
What do you do at the end of the day to relax?
Drink. (A nice glass of clean water, obviously.)
What is the single most important thing for craft students to learn?
Persistence (which they almost never do learn).
How would you like to be remembered?
He made it!