Wayne Sealey is a self-confessed wood addict.
He even writes that on his website.
His studio is an Aladdin’s cave of oak, yew, mahogany and beech though none of it is piled in an orderly manner.
Wayne – a craftsman who specialises in wood furniture and ornaments – is not interested in straight lines, cupboard doors or level tops. Rather, his fascination is in the natural shapes and colours that can be found in driftwood or chopped down trees.
“There are so many natural shapes found in trees. I just look at a tree and see the shapes and forms simplified – whether it’s the back of a chair or a bracket for a frame.
“People were making things from trees long before we had the tools to shape the wood ourselves.”
Wayne specialises in adapting the natural forms of driftwood, discarded branches, stems, trunks and bog wood to create furniture.
“I look at the branches or bits of wood I have, what shapes they form and tie-wrap it all together to make a piece of furniture. If they all fit together I then take it all apart again to reassemble and attach it so it’s a permanent form.”
Wayne’s bigger pieces – which include beautiful lamp bases made from sycamore and oak stems and side-tables – are selling well.
“I’ve just come back from the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex and that was really good – I sold virtually all of the big pieces I took with me and quite a few craftsmen came to the stall and commented on how much they liked the work.”
But this unique niche that Wayne has – quite literally – carved out for himself came about by accident.
“I was at a festival in Lancashire and was offered a job at Franklin Tree Services in Manchester as a groundsman looking after the tree stems and the yard as the firm supplied wood to carpenters and joiners.
“I was selling stuff to people like joiners and cabinet makers and saw-milling some of the wood for log cabins.”
It was here that Wayne learned about wood.
“It was there where I got my ideas. I really admired the craftsmanship in the furniture they created and felt a bit intimidated by it.
“I am completely self-taught but I soon realised that there were so many beautiful forms in the wood itself that I could make the most of that without having to be a cabinet maker.”
That was 12 years ago.
Wayne now works from his studio in Attercliffe, at a place called Mesters’ Works.
“Its brilliant place to work. We’re next to a company called Turton Springs and they’ve been here for years – the equipment they use dates back decades and they’re so helpful.”
It’s clear that Wayne is obsessed with wood.
“Look at this,” he says, walking over to what looks like twisted branches. “It’s a bike, can you see it. I found this in a shrub.”
He forms a bicycle and the resemblance is uncanny. “You just have to break the shapes right down. That’s what I do.”
His preoccupation with the forms in wood is mirrored by the stacks and stacks of branches, trunks and driftwood that adorns his workshop wall.
“I am still building this business up and couldn’t afford shelving so I put steel rods into the walls to hold the wood.”
The effect is a mass of wood that looks as if it’s floating on the wall. “It’s great, and there’s more at another place,” says Wayne.
And some of these finds are luckier than others.
“There’s a beautiful piece of burr oak that I found when I was backing out the car in Lockerby and had to move a log out of the way. I couldn’t believe it when I discovered it was burr oak, it’s beautiful.”
Wayne works with wood’s imperfections to create quirky, striking pieces. Many of his wood show the dark tones where the wood is starting to spalt (split).
Once he’s spotted a good piece of wood, it’s a case of letting it dry out – which can take years, carving it, if necessary, and polishing it. The end result is a vividly-detailed object that is entirely formed by the natural world.
“You name it, every shape, every letter of the alphabet is there in wood, naturally, it’s just a case of seeing it.”
Wayne Sealey’s work can be seen at www.naturalfusions.co.uk