Stephen Ryan - Traditional Woodwork
Posted by Clare Grennan
- Tell us a little bit about what you make
I produce a range of traditional woodcraft products. Including children’s toys, kitchen utensils, carved spoons and small furniture pieces inspired by traditional life in Ireland. I use locally sourced hard woods, along with traditional techniques to produce each item by hand. This style of woodcraft is known as green woodwork, using traditional tools to shape green (unseasoned) wood. The products are not sanded, leaving the craftsman’s tool marks clearly visible, completed with a coat of natural oil giving each piece a tactile touch.
- Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favourite thing about the space and how do you get into the mindset of making?
I’m really lucky to have a workshop based in a woodland, in the heart of the Lagan Valley, in Belfast. It's called Minnowburn and is owned by the National Trust. I get to have my own space, but also work alongside some great people such as Rangers, volunteers, Bee Keepers and Community Gardeners. This idyllic setting really helps to inspire my work.
- What is your favourite tool and why?
I have an old draw knife that I use most days. The handles and blade are worn significantly from decades of use and sharpening by its previous owners. The draw knife has been used for centuries, through many woodworking trades from coopers to Wheelwrights to name a few.
- What led you to choosing this craft as a profession? What do you love most about it?
I have always had a keen interest in woodwork from an early age, taking after my dad, using his tools to make things. I have worked at many woodworking trades for over twenty years, all of which I have enjoyed thoroughly, serving my time as Church Organ Builder, before becoming a furniture maker/restorer. However, after years of working in a sometimes noisy and always dusty environment, I wanted a change, this lead me down the path of green woodwork, it allows me to practice my craft in a healthier and happier environment.
Hand carved pencils by Steve are available to purchase through our online shop.