Max Bainbridge runs a sustainable craft and design partnership, Forest + Found and is the author of The Urban Woodsman
‘I studied fine art at Chelsea College of Art & Design where I met my partner Abigail. We were on the same course and shared a studio space in our final year, where we discovered our love for materials and making. I have made things ever since I was little and my practice at Chelsea was heavily involved in sculpture and the discovery of working materials by hand. I’ve always been drawn to wood, and it has been a material I have returned to working with time and time again. As a child I spent hours and hours shaping branches into bows and arrows, which gave me the basic understanding of how carving worked. But it’s only been in the last two years that I have really learnt my craft from reading books, watching videos online and talking to other makers and craftsmen.
After graduating in 2013 my partner Abigail, a natural dyer and quilter, and I knew that we wanted to be able to support ourselves through making. We made an impulse buy of a wood lathe and it all started from there. We had this big bit of machinery that I had to teach myself to use so that’s what I set out to do. From there I formed a relationship with Epping Forest from where I source all my wood and begun teaching myself wood turning and carving. We founded Forest + Found in late 2014. We focus on producing contemporary wooden objects and hand-stitched textiles using traditional methods of craft.
Even if it is in your back garden, it is so important to get children outside and engaging with nature and carving is a great way to do that. It’s about forming relationships with the outdoors. It’s so much fun to work outside in the natural setting where a piece of wood has come from.
A simple bow and arrow is such a good place to start. It teaches you about stripping the bark, carving notches for the string, marking out a handle and the tolerances of the wood as you bend it to string the bow.
For younger children I would suggest buying an Opinel No.7 Junior Knife. It has a rounded end to the blade making it a little more user friendly. For older children of 12+ with adult supervision I would suggest the same knife that I use, a Mora 120. They are fantastic knives, inexpensive and give you everything you need to start carving.
Safety is one of the most important aspects to consider when you are working with knives and hand tools, as long as you realise that the knives are sharp and that they need to be treated with respect. It is all about working with the correct knife grips where the blade is under control and always being aware of where your blade is in relation to your hands and body.
Woodcraft offers a great sense of achievement in having made something from scratch from a completely natural material. It can be a really profound and empowering feeling. Giving children the tools and skills to create is so important. I think it also teaches them discipline, respect and focus. Carving awakens such a sense of determination to finish a project and working with your hands gives you a satisfaction like no other.’ forest-and-found.com