Made In Manchester Series - Part 11 - Something From The Turnery

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We proudly manufacture and print our garments here in Manchester, the city where the Industrial Revolution began. The city once nicknamed Cottonopolis, home of Britain's cotton industry. A city renowned for its creativity and innovation.

RUN&FELL is on a journey, delving into the creative community of Manchester, meeting people who share our values, and make things here. We're passionate about local people embracing and excelling in their own forms of craft, launching initiatives which have a wider impact for good, and choosing to pursue positivity in their work to inspire others.

In our Made in Manchester series, we're connecting with visionaries who are cultivating their own innovative enterprises; artists and designers creating inventive new visuals; musicians driving the heartbeat of the city. Adopted Mancunian Joel founded Something From The Turnery in the last few months, creating beautiful wooden pieces, expertly turned on his grandad's old lathe. Determined to not let this ongoing pandemic situation stop us from learning about his craft and his new business, we caught up with Joel over the phone, on his way to collect a chopped down tree, as you do. 

Made In Manchester Series - Part 11 - Something From The Turnery

"Yeah so I'm literally on my way to pick up a tree. It will take a year or so to be dry enough to use. I quite like the longevity in that, it's quite nice to know that you've got stuff to use ahead of you." Joel explained, as we asked him all about the process and where he sources his raw material. Much of his timber comes from local trees, and often supplied by friends and family, "Since I got into wood turning, more and more people have been phoning me, telling me they've just cut down a tree". Whilst a lot of wood turners import their timber from around the world, Joel confessed he had been really fortunate to have inherited some high quality pieces from his wife's grandad who'd collected lots of different types of wood before he passed away. 

A piece of Ash wood being turned into a bowl on the lathe

Joel's roots are in rural Lincolnshire, but he has made Manchester his home now for well over a decade. It was back in his countryside village in Lincolnshire where he first learned how to turn wood as a teenager, with the help of his grandad and family friend "St.Vincent", Vin. Last year, Joel's grandad moved into a flat, and offered Joel his lathe. Keen to rekindle the craft he'd learnt as a boy, he accepted, and made space for the machinery in his garage in Manchester. "I got on Youtube and started watching videos, and instantly remembered why I loved it so much. It's completely snowballed from there. For a while if I wasn't actually turning I was probably on Youtube watching people turning. I just call it "Youtube University" these days!"

"The music industry stuff crashed around me, and I've been able to make a good go of this as a business whilst that other world doesn't exist."

A talented musician and music producer, Joel is grateful that his hobby-turned-side-hustle swiftly became a profitable business, at just the right time. "I was already turning before the pandemic hit and I was really loving it and enjoying it, and people started to take interest in what I was creating. The music industry stuff crashed around me, and I've been able to make a good go of this as a business whilst that other world doesn't exist. In this time where my industry in music has completely fallen apart, people have responded so positively, it's gone from a hobby to a business really quite quickly."

Interestingly, Joel plans to unite his two passions, music and wood turning, in the near future, possibly by crafting wooden musical instruments such as shakers or drums. He's already finding there's quite a bit of crossover between the two disciplines. "In both cases you're starting with a rough idea or a raw material and you're aiming to turn it into something beautiful, something that's really inspiring and sounds great or looks great. Mentality wise there are quite a lot of parallels, I'm finding, with creating a track for an artist or creating a vase or something from an old piece of wood. At first it's a bit messy and you get more and more into the finer details right up to the end where you can step back and look at something that you're proud of."

Part of the beauty in true craftsmanship, in creating any beautiful pieces of work with talent and skill, is and always has been the relationship to our most costly resource of all; time. Whether it's the months, years even, that it takes for the tree to dry out before it is useable, or the hours spent learning, practicing, honing the skills, and passing that information down to the next generation, not to mention creating the articles themselves; so much time is invested. It makes sense then that these items are kept and treasured. "I'm really inspired by products that have a lasting purpose; something that you can use for years or look at for years; something that has longevity." Joel loves to make pieces that fit into daily life, be it practical bowls and kitchen tools, or something ornamental like his ever-popular vases

As well as his sustainable approach to using local wood, Joel is committed to ensuring that his products are finished with environmentally-friendly treatments. "I'm becoming more and more aware of toxins and their effects on us, and plastics and harmful chemicals. So I watch what I'm putting into the wood at the end. Some of the finishes I've previously used or that were recommended to me say on the back "highly dangerous to aquatic life". It just feels a bit irresponsible for me to take something that's as natural and beautiful and organic as you can get, as a tree, and then cover it in chemicals. It feels wrong."
Part of the beauty in true craftsmanship, in creating any beautiful pieces of work with talent and skill, is and always has been the relationship to our most costly resource of all; time.
As with all chemicals, it's not only about being considerate about the environment, but the effect on those handling them too. "I recently started working with hemp oil and another product that uses ethically sourced beeswax. It gives a beautiful finish and peace of mind knowing I'm not harming the environment. And it's healthier for me too. With a lot of the finishes available, you have to wear gloves and masks. But with hemp oil you can use your bare hands and the worst thing it will do is make your hands feel nice!"


"Shadow and Sunshine" Hand Turned Bowl from Ebonized Oak

Something From The Turnery started out as a hobby, and an Instagram account where Joel would document his experiments in his workshop, trialling different techniques and finishes. He now sells his wares on Etsy, and also takes commissions through his instagram account, and is looking forward to getting out, selling at makers markets around Manchester.

Describing himself on Instagram as "A Country Son in the Industrial North", Joel's proud of his rural roots and his adopted city alike. "I hope that I'm bringing my countryside upbringing and combining it with the Manchester industrial side of things". He's always admired and respected the industrial heritage and history of Manchester, as well as being influenced by the city's contemporary culture and the buzz of the place. "Manchester traditionally has been a massively industrial city. I love being here, making things with my hands on old machines; an old machine my grandad gave me. It smells like old machinery, it's hands on, oily; the sort of thing traditional in Manchester back in the day I think! I love Manchester, I love living here, I find city life inspiring. You cant stop these things from influencing you whether you're looking out for it or not. I think it becomes part of your every day, part of your mentality and part of your psychology. Those things just naturally come out in whatever you're creating I think."

Beech Handled Cheese Knife Set

Whilst we're all currently adapting to our "new normal", Joel has been crafting a whole new life. Having invested time here, putting down roots in Manchester, and building a career making music, like many creatives in our City, he's having to adjust. Despite the music industry taking such a chop, he'd been simultaneously working on another budding talent, at just the right time. Going forward he's keen to keep thriving, "I would love to continue developing my skills and my craft and keep growing. And if I can use these skills and hone my craft, and be able to look after my family by running it as a business then that's something I'd be super happy to do".

Taking that old machinery, passed down through the family, building on the skills he'd learned as a young lad, and drawing on the wealth of those old trees that once grew and breathed around this very city, his art is a renaissance in itself. 


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craftsmanship eco-friendly hand made hemp Lathe longevity Made In England Made In Manchester Manchester plant-based Something From The Turnery sustainability sustainable timber wood wood turning

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