Made in Devon
PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 March 2014
Tiverton-based furniture maker Oliver Mackie makes his beautifully crafted wooden creations by hand, ensuring they are truly one of a kind
In his small Tiverton workshop, Oliver Mackie designs and creates stunning wooden furniture using the traditional method of limited machinery and hand crafting the products to give it a unique touch.
Since starting Oliver’s Original Furniture & Woodcraft in 2012, he has not only createdfurniture to sit in family homes, but has also been invited to exhibit his superb craftmanship at events across the South West, including more recently at Cornwall’s Cotehele Gallery, St Dominic.
“My furniture may not be what you would call ‘arty’, but it there is an artistic side to the making process,” Oliver explains. “It has to be aesthetically pleasing, but first and foremost I want my furniture to be functional - what’s the point in making a fancy table if it isn’t sturdy enough to do its job?”
Working mainly by hand allows Oliver to work the wood and ensure it looks as good as possible. He works with clients to draw up designs for the products they’ve commissioned, but allows the wood to shape the furniture, meaning the designs often evolve during the making process. “If you go against the wood, you won’t get the best you can out of it. It largely depends on the wood grain and shading,” he says. “It may sound crazy, but I let the wood decide what it wants to be and what shape it is. We’re not talking mass chages to the initial designs, only very fine detail, and I always check with the client first if the designs need to be altered in any way.”
"People want something a little unique and different and something that not every other house has got"
Like many craft businesses in Devon, the increasing popularity of handmade goods has certainly helped Oliver’s business grow - something he says is largely down to a change in consciousness.
“We’ve been living in a throw away society, so its all ‘that colour doesn’t go with our décor anymore, so let’s chuck it out’, and when items are reasonably cheap you can afford to do that. But I think now people are realising that it’s better to buy items that will last a lifetime, and even past that so they have something to pass on as heirlooms to their children, grandchildren and so on,” he explains.
“Chatting to clients has made me realise that they would rather wait a little bit longer to buy an item of better quality. I don’t think that’s just across my industry of wood, but across many other crafts as well. People want something a little unique and different and something that not every other house has got.”
Oliver’s unique selling point is that he only uses local timbers. The majority of wood he uses have come from trees that have to be chopped down for various reasons, not just for the sake of making furniture. “I get my timber from a man in Wiggaton because it is great
quality and perfect for furniture making, whether it be for tables, drawers or chairs.”
It’s no surprise that after just one year, Oliver was asked to join the prestigious Made By Hands of Britian website, which features the best in the craft industry, including printmakers, jewellery designers and glass artists. The website is relaunching next year and Oliver has been invited to be a part of it.
“When I started Oliver’s Original Furniture & Woodcraft, I couldn’t afford advertising. I started the business from nothing and gradually built it up, only buying a tool when I could afford it. And now I have galleries accepting my work and have been accepted into Made By Hands of Britain - it’s very humbling.