Hugh Roche Kelly
I am a woodworker, furniture maker and I also work with metal.
What craft do you work with?
Woodworker / furniture maker. I also work with metal. I’ve been a maker for 15 years in various guises. I particularly like hand carving and turning wood, and challenging myself to advanced welding challenges
What inspires you to work with this craft?
For me , material is everything – where it comes from, making it look the best, and creating the strongest and shortest possible link between the finished product or project and the natural source of the material. In Brussels we are lucky enough to have a fantastic source of old hardwood right on our doorstep – the Sonian forest, where the vast majority of the woods i use comes from. Whenever I need special or exotic materials , I use a collection I have built up of salvaged materials sourced from architectural salvage, and occasionally from defunct businesses. This approach allows me to have on hand a collection of unique materials with , for example, durable qualities for exterior work, or particular aesthetic appeals such as old exotic woods that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to source ethically or ecologically.
How would you best describe your workspace and what tools could you not do without?
I operate in and help to run a shared semi-open workshop with a non-profit in Brussels. As the years have gone by we have been able to slowly invest and upgrade the workshop to be a fairly complete professional wood and metal workshop. My most important tools to me are probably my marking tools, my handplanes…. and I could not work without our big table saw, to handle many of the huge pieces of timber that come in to the stock.
Are there new techniques you would like to try?
I’m particularly hoping to be able to integrate hand carving and engraving into woodturning, and will prepare some prototypes before the residency.
What have you learnt or the best advice you have received that you would like to share with fellow crafters?
Although I have learned that sharing small works frequently is one of the best approaches online, i do find it difficult to prioritise that when I am working to finish a project. Aside from that, I have always found that showing curiousity for new techniques, and openly experimenting with the practised craft tends to open doorways to new connections.
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