'The timeless character of wood is always evident – it tells its own story through its colour, texture, growth rings and, sometimes, spalt.' In this month's Biosphere partner profile, Ed and Cathy Radcliffe describe how they use traditional skills to lovingly craft pieces of wood into unique works of art:
Manx TurnEd is a small family woodturning business based on the Isle of Man and run by husband and wife team Ed and Cathy Radcliffe.
Ed in the workshop
Ed is key to this cottage industry, as the wood-turner, and Cathy is chief pyrographer and manages the website and marketing.
Both revel in the direct sales aspect of their business as this affords them great opportunities to bring their wood to life through conversations with the public, recounting the wonderful stories about the wood they present.
This also provides the perfect informal educational opportunity for increasing awareness of many important elements of wood, such as textures, medicinal properties as well as some often quirky facts.
Ed is Manx born and bred. He was fortunate that his original apprenticeship and training in carpentry and joinery taught him traditional and intricate woodworking skills from a well-reputed, locally based company.
Cathy is originally from the UK but considers herself Manx after being schooled here, then forging a career for almost 40 years with the Isle of Man Health Service.
Since raising their family, Ed and Cathy retired from their main careers five years ago which provided Ed with the time and opportunity to realise his dream of working with wood in a different way. After a specialised wood-turning course in the UK, Ed set up his workshop at home and the rest is history.
The traditional lathe
As well as crafting traditional wood-turned pieces on a lathe, Ed receives commissions to make bespoke creations, repair or re-fashion antique items of furniture or other family heirlooms – the ultimate in sustainability.
These have included much loved musical instruments, an antique sofa that belonged to great grandparents, and re-fashioning chair spindles; not to mention the request for wooden magic wands.
His days are now spent in his protective clothing, creating shavings and marvellous memories for customers.
Ed is fortunate to be able to indulge his passion and life-long ambition of turning wood from its original form into individual and often unusual pieces of art. His creations evolve dynamically, as the wood he works with shows its character and consistency. He prides himself in both the quality of workmanship, as well as individuality of each piece. The timeless character of wood is always evident – it tells its own story through its colour, texture, growth rings and, sometimes, spalt.
Manx Eucalyptus stained vase
Ed acts as the narrator for the memoir of each piece of wood he has the privilege to work with. In this way he brings its history to life.
Cathy completes this journey and uses pyrography, to burn a design into the wood. This enables Manx TurnEd to add an extra piece of ‘Manxness’ to each product by incorporating the Three Legs of Man emblem on the reverse of the artwork. Cathy also burns in the type of wood and Manx TurnEd’s mark.
Manx TurnEd believe this process adds to the cultural and historical value of each design they create.
Ed and Cathy are members of the Isle of Man Farmers’ Markets and regularly attend the thriving market held on Saturdays in Ramsey.
This is a prime opportunity for Manx TurnEd to display products, engage and interact with the community and sell a wide variety of both Manx timber and wood from further afield.
Manx ash with resin work
Where possible, Ed and Cathy attend special events such as agricultural shows, fayres and other artisan markets. Their products can be purchased through retail outlets in some Manx National Heritage sites.
Cathy and Ed have a website www.manxturned.co.uk where it’s possible to view and purchase products.
Manx TurnEd are delighted to incorporate their love of photography into some of Ed’s wood-turned designs.
Within the website's 'Our Gallery' pages, wood-turned clocks are showcased with bespoke photographic artwork from ManxieLiz Designs. These images highlight the uniqueness and diversity of the Isle of Man from its natural, sporting and historical aspects.
Contact Ed and Cathy if you have questions, suggestions or would like to order products. Online orders are accepted for delivery within the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom.
Manx TurnEd do not use single-use plastic packaging and their paper carrier bags are recyclable.
If the website has fuelled your enthusiasm and you would like a bespoke piece, Ed may be able to take commissions dependent on size and type of work required. Please get in touch.
facebook: Manx TurnEd