A big welcome to our newest member Simon Clark! Simon has some fantastic upcycled wood creations here in his ‘Simon’s Shed‘ shop on EcoCreate. We asked Simon to tell us about himself and his creations. Here’s what he had to tell us …
My name is Simon and I’m based in my shed in Derby. Woodworking is my hobby and my way of unwinding from my real world job as a teacher. My dream is for this to become my full time job and to support my family doing what I love.
I’ve always worked with wood, mostly on a DIY level making planters for the garden etc. What sparked me off seriously making was two bird boxes. The first was needing repair at work. As it was made from cheap MDF it was far easier to rebuild it from scratch and I only ended up reusing the metal roof. The second was one in the shape of caravan that my best friend found on Pinterest when she was collecting ideas for moving house and I had a go at making one as a surprise. I loved having projects so started making bird boxes for presents and it’s spiralled from there. People ask me “could you make…?” and I’ve started do stalls at small craft fairs and school fairs. I’m mostly self-taught but I decided to start an adult education class 18 months ago as a way of developing some “proper” skills and for something different to do away from work.
When people ask me what I make I usually say bird boxes and candle holders but to be honest I make what I feel like having a go at. Planters seems to be an area I’m developing at the moment from regular rectangles to the mock rowing boat I made for a friend. Ninety-nine percent of my projects are made completely from recycled wood (usually pallets). I also source wood from reuse websites. Part of my motivation is to be thrifty.
I recently built a climbing frame for my girls and only bought the upright posts and as I’m still learning it makes the whole making experience more relaxing because I can explore ideas and not worry about wasting wood. Mostly because reuse and recycling feels like common sense on an environmental level. I’ve salvaged lots of perfectly good wood and made nice things from pieces I found lying around in the street. Waste just feels foolish. And I do like being nosy in skips! Any scrap wood I can’t use is either passed on through reuse websites as firewood for wood burners or taken to our local recycling site including all the scrap nails. My wife is very patient when I fill our yard with pallets or come home with some random piece of what looks like scrap. I also love beach combing and collecting driftwood, from the small pieces I make my mobiles from to the time I got lucky and found a piece so long I had to take an unscheduled stop in a DIY shop to get something to fasten it to the car roof.
My favourite pieces are the ones I’ve made specifically for people as you can see the pleasure they get for them but over the two years I’ve been making seriously I’ve found the ones I like to make and would (and do) have them in my own home or garden. I do have a soft spot for my camper bird boxes though as I had the idea myself. I’ll happily have a go at commissions as they’re a good challenge.
My original inspiration was ultimately my Dad. He was always making things for us out of wood, like my cabin bed, a training tower for my action men and a fort for my toy soldiers. (That recently got upcycled into a Princess castle for my daughters by Father Christmas.) He recycled wood way before recycling was a thing and still does. (We made a cupboard for my shed that contains wood from the cabin bed). Like everyone else I also get my ideas from Twitter (I’m @simons_shed ), Pinterest and magazines and I do love the tv programme “Salvage Dawgs”.
The most important thing I’ve learnt in the relatively short time I’ve been making is to make things you enjoy making and things that you’d have yourself. It’s got to be fun! I also want my girls to know that making is a valuable life skill and that just because they’re girls doesn’t mean they can use power tools.