I’m Tom Bartlett. I make wooden vessels and utensils from urban trees, using simple hand tools. My work brings nature and beauty into your house. All of my work is designed with utilitarian function in mind.
Humanity’s story is closely intertwined with trees. Not only as part of our past, but our present and future as well. For as long as we have been able to, humans have held and shaped wood into objects of use and appreciation.
The best use for a tree is being upright and alive. Living trees help regulate temperatures, prevent erosion, reduce the risk of flooding, provide a habitat for local wildlife and even improve our mood.
Sometimes trees need to be removed due to old age, pests or damage. These trees are often just chipped or burned. Crafting them into useful objects lets people appreciate these trees for a little longer.
The items I make are influenced by traditional crafts from cultures across the world. I take inspiration from historic designs, always updating them to meet today’s needs.
Looked after and well used wooden items take on new characteristics. While the grain of wood can be used to tell the story of a tree’s past, the wear and patina that develops through use will tell the story of how you have cared for and loved your wooden utensils.
All of items I make are designed and crafted with use in mind. They are meant to serve a function and to do it well. With a little care these utensils will serve you for many years to come.
Once a tree has been felled and I have collected the wood, all of the shaping and finishing is done by hand. Wood is a living material, to follow the grain and work it well requires the delicacy that can only be achieved through hand tools.
I use hand tools that are deeply ingrained in humanity’s past: the knife and the axe. These are tools our oldest ancestors would be familiar with, in function, if not form. Our species is defined by our tool use. With mindful practice, these hand tools become second nature to use.
I split cut rounds of wood to the length I want to work. These split sections are shaped using a carving axe based on a Viking design. The axe is able to quickly and accurately remove wood. I then move onto using a knife. I use two different knives. I use a straight knife for most of the shaping of my utensils. I then use a large crooked knife, known as a twca cam, to hollow out bowls in spoons and ladles.
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