The Latest From Our Blog…

Spotlight on Steam Bending
14th January 2020
For those that are familiar with our work will know that, more often than not, it involves many curved elements. We frequently get asked if we steam bend our timber, especially with regards to our Freeform technique and design style. Most of the time the answer to this question is no, as most of our curved timbers are constructed using various laminating processes and then hand-shaped, methods that have become Ed’s speciality. However, there are some occasions when we do use steam bending to produce certain results. Steam bending is a traditional technique that was once widely used in the production of weapons, tools and vessels and is often used in the manufacture of furniture, crafting of musical instruments such as violins and in boat-building. Steaming bending timber in the workshop Most recently we have been using the technique to design and develop a new piece that will become part of our Sussex Collection. The method is to expose the timber to steam in order to make it pliable. The heat and the moisture from the steam gradually softens the timber’s fibre enough for it to be bent when still warm and hold its shape when it cools. The timber is normally placed in a steam box for a set amount of time depending of the thickness and type of wood. Sometimes this needs to be worked out by trial and error to get it exactly right, however, the general rule of thumb is to allow one hour per inch of timber thickness. Once the timber is ready it gets manually pulled around a former as quickly as possible using a reinforcing metal band to the outside to prevent ‘blowout’. The timber is then clamped into position and is left to cool down and dry. There are both benefits and disadvantages to using steam bending over laminating processes. It can be a lot quicker once you have worked out the timings, there is far less material waste, there is no need to wait for glue to dry, and tighter curves can be achieved. However, on the downside it can take a lot of strength to bend it depending on size, you need to work the timber very quickly, sometimes the timber is prone to splitting and blowout when bent or removed from the mould. Like most things, when choosing which technique to use it is all about having the knowledge and experience to be able achieve the desired outcome with the best results. <back to blog
MAISON & OBJET, Paris 2020
8th January 2020
We are very pleased to announce that Edward Johnson will be exhibiting for the first time at MAISON&OBJET in Paris from 17th – 21st January 2020. MAISON&OBJET is celebrating its 25th year with ‘(RE) GENERATION!’ being the inspiration for January’s show. It is the ‘international authority for home decor, interior design, architecture and lifestyle culture and trends through its shows, events and its digital platform'. Edward hopes to make an impact and perpetuate a ‘ripple effect’ for his unique brand and individual design style by showing a selection of pieces from his Ripples, Murano and Sussex Collections. The work selected for this exhibition demonstrates strong conceptual ideas, from reflecting ripples in water to mirroring the growth rings of a tree. Many of the pieces also blur the boundaries between art and design, form and function. Edward has also been selected for the What’s New? ‘Ritualist’ showcase exhibition curated by François Bernard. Where you will see his Chichester Mirror and Squaring the Circle jewellery box. ‘Over 3000 brands, several conferences with some of the biggest names in design with "What's New" spaces dedicated to the latest trends and much more!’ If you would like to visit us, you will find us in hall 5a - stand M24 in the Signature: Unique and Eclectic section. We would love to see your there! Maison et Objet: 17 - 21 January 2020Parc des Expositions de Villepinte, ZAC Paris Nord 2, Villipinte, Francewww.maison-objet.com/en ‘To celebrate its 25th birthday, MAISON &OBJET has decided to fix its eyes firmly on the future and explore the new trends in consumer behaviour being driven by generations Y and Z. The self-evident theme, “(RE) GENERATION”, will run throughout 2020. January’s edition will decipher the desires and expectations of an “engaged generation” that has grown up in a world of crises affecting the economy, the environment, identities and migration.’ Download our Press Release <back to blog
Ash dieback disease (Chalara)
7th January 2020
(Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) As recently touched on in our ‘The Art of Collaboration’ article there is a serious threat to our ash trees, in fact it is predicted that 95% of ash trees will be lost in the UK. This is due to ash dieback disease which is most prevalent in the south-east of England where it was first recorded in 2012. ‘Ash dieback will kill up to 95% of ash trees across the UK. At a cost of billions, the effects will be staggering. It will change the landscape forever and threaten many species which rely on ash.’ 1 Our workshop is in a rural location in Bosham, near Chichester and Ed himself lives in rural West Sussex. On his journey each day he has noticed the significant amount of ash trees that have been felled along the roadside. However, felling ash trees will not stop the spread of this wind-dispersed disease, rather it is a case for safety from falling branches and trees causing injury, damage and hazards as they become increasingly unstable. In fact, is had been suggested that leaving them standing has a benefit, as Forest Research explains about the countryside at large, ‘…by keeping as many ash trees standing as possible, we can identify individuals which appear to survive exposure to the fungus and which can be used for breeding tolerant ash trees for the future.’ 2As mentioned, ash dieback is caused by a fungus that originated in Asia. Fortunately, it doesn’t have such harsh consequences for the Asian native trees, Manchurian ash and Chinese ash. However, it has grave ramifications for the European ash that did not evolve with the fungus, and therefore has no natural defence system against it. So how did it arrive here?The spores of the fungus can be carried easily by the wind. It is possible that it arrived naturally in the UK this way from mainland Europe where the disease was first recorded about 30 years’ ago. However, ‘it was also inadvertently imported on ash saplings. The UK was importing thousands of ash plants from infected parts of Europe until a ban came into place in 2012’. 3 What happens to the tree?‘The fungus overwinters in leaf litter on the ground, particularly on ash leaf stalks. It produces small white fruiting bodies between July and October which release spores into the surrounding atmosphere. These spores can blow tens of miles away. They land on leaves, stick to and then penetrate into the leaf and beyond. The fungus then grows inside the tree, eventually blocking its water transport systems, causing it to die. The tree can fight back, but year-on-year infections will eventually kill it.’ 4 Of course, this is a terrible plight for the ash tree, and not too dissimilar to the decimation of the elm tree population in the not too distant past, although elms are now making a steady recovery albeit with relatively younger trees and not the giants that once graced our landscape. Unfortunately, once ash dieback disease has a hold, it also renders the timber unusable, save for firewood before the timber begins to powder. With this is mind, we envisage (although don’t quote us on this!) that current stock levels of ash will continue or even rise in the short-term as managed forests fell their healthy trees, with shortages in the years to come alongside the impact on our countryside, landscape and natural woodlands. NOTES:1. The Woodland Trust - www.woodlandtrust.org2. Forest Research - www.forestresearch.gov.uk3. The Woodland Trust - www.woodlandtrust.org4. The Woodland Trust - www.woodlandtrust.org <back to blog
The Art of Collaboration
27th November 2019
A ‘Variation of a Kissing Bench’ Jane Bustin installation shot: 'Blindspot' exhibition. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London. Collaboration is often at the very heart of our business and is normally established between ourselves and our private clients as we work closely with them to create their dream furniture for their homes. On occasion we get to collaborate with other craftspeople and artists. For this project we were approached by artist Jane Bustin to jointly develop and make a Kissing Bench for her solo exhibition ‘Blindspot’ at Copperfield Gallery, London: An exhibition “combining paintings, textiles, ceramics and sculpture that questions the trust we place in our primary senses when attempting to perceive, in particular, what it is ‘to see’.” Variation of a Kissing Bench , Jane Bustin and Edward Johnson. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London. The design is similar to a traditional kissing bench but is designed to allow only a small overlap between the back of the chairs, limiting the viewpoint and connection of the sitters. However, with the turn of a cheek the opposing sitters would meet. The piece subtly skews the very function of the Kissing Bench concept, being an intimate and shared space, to that of a socially awkward space, perhaps a nod to a no man’s land! The underside of the seats and the inside edges are painted in Vermilion red that adds a reflective glow simultaneously warm and alarming. Unusually, for Edward, the piece doesn't contain any curves, however, from a technical point of view the rigidity and simplicity of the structure contrasts with the complex interlocking hand-cut dovetail joints. Hand-cutting dovetails joints and bench components laid out in the workshop. The bench offers a practical use and familiar position for viewing paintings, resting or listening to bird-song (an installation piece in the exhibition ‘Woodsong’ utilises a BBC sound recording of Nightingales from May 1942, where a few minutes in, the recording is disturbed by the unexpected drones of 197 British RAF bombers) whilst at the same time evoking uncomfortable truths between humanity, territory and the land. Detail of dovetail joints and kissing bench constructed in workshop prior to painting. The choice of wood was a very conscious decision. The bench is made from ash, a traditional natural wood of Europe and Great Britain which is now threatened with extinction due to ash dieback disease, caused by a fungal infestation. 'Blindspot' exhibition by Jane Busin. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London. It was a pleasure to work on this piece with Jane, who also collaborated with writers Tracy Chevalier and John Hull to produce this exhibition. Blindspot: Jane BustinCopperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Street, London SE1 0EP The exhibition runs from 13 November - 20 December 2019 | Weds - Sat 12 - 6pm | Free admission www.copperfieldgallery.com <back to blog
Upcoming Exhibitions
24th October 2019
We are very pleased to announce that we are participating in the following three exhibitions through November to December 2019. Blindspot by Jane Busin at Copperfield Gallery Edward has been working collaboratively with artist Jane Bustin to jointly produce a sculptural ‘Kissing Bench’ that will be on show as part of her solo exhibition ‘Blindspot’ at Copperfield Gallery, London: An exhibition combining paintings, textiles, ceramics and sculpture that questions the trust we place in our primary senses when attempting to perceive, in particular, what it is ‘to see’. Private view: Tuesday 12th November, 6pm – 9pmExhibition dates: 13th November – 20th December 2019Opening times: Wednesday – Saturday 12 - 6pm or by appointment.Admission free. Copperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Road, London SE1 0EP www.copperfieldgallery.com Dovetail joints on the 'Kissing Bench' The House at Hill Lane: Annual Winter Pop-up Exhibition Edward has also been invited to exhibit his work in this group show at The House at Hill Lane. The exhibition includes work by Fanny Peppercorn, Ann Gardner, Polly Meynell, Alan Frost and of course Edward! The House at Hill Lane is a fascinating venue as an award-winning architect-designed eco house completed in 2015, owned and built by theatre director Joe Harmston and textile artist Polly Meynell. Private View: Thursday 14th November, 6pm – 8pmOpen House dates: 15th – 17th November 2019, 10am – 5pmAdmission free. The House at Hill Lane, 43 Hill Lane, Barnham PO22 0BL www.thehouseathilllane.com The Sussex Guild: Contemporary Craft Show Once again Edward will be participating in the annual Sussex Guild show at Midhurst Rother College, where over 50 members of the Guild will be exhibiting their work. Exhibition dates: 30th November – 1st December 2019, 10am – 5pmAdmission £3 for adults, students and children free Midhurst Rother College, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DT https://thesussexguild.co.uk/ <back to blog