Check out this Norwich crafter's gorgeous kitchenalia
- Credit: Slow Made Goods
Ewen Brown, who lives in Norwich, started designing and making items out of wood about six years ago as a creative side project.
Now, as Slow Made Goods, he creates a range of beautifully hand-crafted and useful sustainable items for the home, including serving boards, spoons, scoops and brushes which are stocked by a range of supportive independent stockists in East Anglia and beyond.
And he is currently working on an exclusive collaboration with a name synonymous with timeless design - the Conran Shop.
The collection of brushes will launch at their stores in London and Paris early next year.
"Having worked for 15 years doing something that I was good at but didn't love, I made a change around two years ago when me and my family moved to Norfolk," Ewen explains.
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"To start with I got by using a small collection of hand tools, hand carving utensils in our dining room and learned a lot about the processes of working with wood and how to refine them," he says.
"Working with wood feels intuitive, so honing my skills often comes from experimenting with a new type of wood or tool, but when I get stuck there is a rich pool of local makers to compare notes with."
Where did the idea for Slow Made Goods come from and how did it evolve?
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When we moved to Norfolk I knew I wanted to find more balance in my life and had been reading a lot about the slow movement.
I was excited by the idea of making things at the right speed, savouring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them.
Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible.
It has evolved from using a knife, axe and hook knife, mainly hand carving spoons from whatever space wasn’t taken up by my son or partner, to a dedicated workshop, with an outside carving space, with an ever increasing array of traditional and contemporary woodworking tools and materials.
What is your starting point when you're designing items?
I play around with the basic shape of the design on paper and then start to look at how waste can be designed out and turned into another product i.e. if there is a circular handle hole in a serving board I can halve the offcuts and create a semi circular brush handle.
I design out as much waste in each design so that I can maximise the material and use the small amount of waste in our packaging or compost it.
Tell us about your working methods, the tools you use and where you source materials for your goods from…
I taught myself to carve a spoon using just an axe, a knife and a hook knife, a bent knife that gouges the bowl of a spoon, and I’m naturally drawn to working with hand tools and using traditional techniques.
Broom handles are made using a spokeshave (a tool dating back to the 16th century) or drawknife on a shave horse and can be created almost as quickly as using a lathe.
Brush stock (brush handles) is often turned on a lathe and the bristles, made from natural plant fibre, threaded together and finished using a home made combination of flax oil and local organic beeswax to protect the wood.
All of our timber is locally sourced. For smaller work we use wood collected from local arborists that would otherwise be use as biomass or storm fallen woodland timber - always with permission from the land owner.
For larger pieces we use local sawmills who use locally felled trees - many sawmills import wood from Europe.
I use plant based brush fibre which is harvested by hand, usually by family run businesses: tampico fibre from the Agave plant, Gumati from palm trees, coco fibre from coconut husks and broom reed.
Where are Slow Made Goods available from?
I work on small batch collections that we launch on the website (slowmadegoods.com) every couple of months - I always recommend customers sign up to our newsletter to receive shop updates as they usually sell out within 48 hours.
A limited collection of work is available from a selection of independent retailers, including East Anglian stockists The Merchant's Table in Woodbridge, Settle at Shropham, Atwin in Norwich and Make Holt.