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Woodworker of the Year 2023 finalists announced

Axminster ToolsHeritage Crafts and Axminster Tools have announced the finalists of the second annual Woodworker of the Year award, including two woodcarvers, a furniture maker and a marionette maker.

This award celebrates a heritage craftsperson who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of woodworking over the past year. It recognises a contribution that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a particular woodworking skill.

Thomas Ball, Oliver Hymans, Yuchin Li and Andrew WattThe four finalists for this year’s award are (in alphabetical order):

  • Thomas Ball – Tom is the de Laszlo Lead Woodcarving Tutor at City & Guilds of London Arts School, and in 2021 was awarded the Master Carver Certificate by the Worshipful Company Of Joiners and Ceilers. Recent projects include restoration of Grinling Gibbons’ carving at Trinity College Chapel, Oxford, and carving the canopy columns for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.
  • Oliver Hymans – Oliver is an award-winning puppetry artist who has worked across four continents, designing and making puppetry for theatre, opera, film and music video. In 2023 he worked tirelessly to bring the puppetry sector together to get marionette making listed on Heritage Crafts’ Red List of Endangered Crafts to ensure the craft gets passed on to the next generation.
  • Yichen Li – Yichen gathers aged carved wooden panels, which have hundreds of years of history, from the remnants of demolished ancient architecture. She meticulously restores, grinds, polishes, and colors them before combining them with contemporary wood carving techniques to form new spatial and architectural forms. In 2023 she completed her Masters degree at the Royal College of Art as a scholarship recipient.
  • Andrew Watt – Andrew has worked with Method Studio for over six years, and in that time has risen to the position of lead cabinetmaker, running the workshop, making their most important pieces and inventing their way out of complex problems. He has developed and crafted stunning works for the likes of The Glenturret, Burberry, The Macallan, and Vacheron Constantin.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 15 November at a Winners’ Reception at Vicars’ Hall, St George’s House, Windsor Castle. A Young Woodworker of the Year will be announced at the same time.

Heritage Crafts is the national charity set up to celebrate and safeguard traditional craft skills as a fundamental part of the UK’s living heritage. It launched its partnership with Axminster Tools last year, when luthier Jonathan Hill won the inaugural Woodworker of the Year Award. The company has spent 50 years building its family business into the renowned organisation it is today. They work with makers and creators at all levels, from trade professionals through to craft enthusiasts, to support woodworking skills.

The winner will be selected by a panel of judges made up of renowned advocates of craft skills:

  • Jonathan Hill – stringed instrument maker and 2022 Woodworker of the Year.
  • Alan Styles – Managing Director of Axminster Tools.
  • Sarah Goss – traditional woodcarver and expert on Sky Arts’ Prince’s Master Crafters.
Jonathan Hill Alan Styles Sarah Goss
Image of Andrew Watt by Shannon Tofts

 

About Axminster Tools

Axminster Tools has established itself globally as a trusted seller in the mail order tools and machinery industry. They offer a friendly and personal service to many thousands of customers ranging from trade professionals and businesses to amateur DIY and craft enthusiasts.

Axminster Tools is a family business run by industry professionals and passionate craftspeople. Their knowledge is accessible to all, via regular tutorial videos, live streams, project plans and woodworking tips that are completely free to access.

As a British retailer, Axminster Tools supports British design and quality. They work with a number of UK suppliers in celebration of the nation’s skills and craftsmanship. What’s more, they design and manufacture an increasing number of own branded products in their Devon-based engineering facility, including bringing manufacturing back from overseas in many cases.

www.axminstertools.com

Woodworker of the Year Award now open

Jonathan HillHeritage Crafts and Axminster Tools have launched the second annual Woodworker of the Year award, with a £2,000 prize for the winning entry to be presented at a reception at Vicar’s Hall, Windsor Castle, in November.

This award celebrates a heritage craftsperson who has made an outstanding contribution to woodworking over the past year. It recognises a contribution that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a particular woodworking skill. Last year the inaugural award was won by luthier Jonathan Hill.

The award is open to practitioners of any craft that uses wood at its primary material. As well as carpentry, furniture making and wood carving, other examples might include wheelwrighting, boatbuilding, timber framing, marquetry, guitar making, and so on. This year Heritage Crafts and Axminster Tools will also award a Young Woodworker of the Year Award chosen from nominees aged 25 years and under, with a prize of £1,000.

Axminster ToolsTo be eligible, the objects that the nominee makes must be made primarily of wood that has been worked using skilled hand techniques. Makers of composite objects are eligible as long as over half the material used is worked wood. Anyone, including the maker themselves, can nominate for this award. Nominations close on Friday 15 September 2023 at 5pm.

Judges for the award will be:

  • Alan Styles – Alan is Managing Director of Axminster Tools, global suppliers of woodworking tools and machinery. The company has spent 50 years building its family business into the renowned organisation it is today. They work with makers and creators at all levels, from trade professionals through to craft enthusiasts, to support woodworking skills.
  • Sarah Goss – Sarah is a traditional woodcarver who featured as one of the experts in the recent Prince’s Master Crafters: The Next Generation programme on Sky Arts. Sarah studied Restoration and Decorative Studies at Portsmouth University, where she graduated with a first class honours degree before going on to become a full-time carver, specialising in bespoke hand-carved items ranging from lettering and relief decoration to architectural details such as corbel brackets and ceiling roses.
  • Jonathan Hill – Jonathan is a maker of historic and modern stringed instruments including the viola d’amore, lira da braccio, violin and viola families. Following training at West Dean College, he worked for a master violin maker in Yorkshire, and studied instrument making in Turkey with a master traditional oud maker. Many of Jonathan’s clients are from leading orchestras and ensembles worldwide, including the BBC Philharmonic.

Jonathan Hill Alan Styles Sarah Goss

To apply, complete the nomination form before the deadline of 5pm on Friday 15 September 2023.

Photo: Jonathan Hill, 2022 Woodworker of the Year Award winner.


About Axminster Tools

Axminster Tools has established itself globally as a trusted retailer in the mail order tools and machinery industry. They offer a friendly and personal service to many thousands of customers ranging from trade professionals and businesses to home users and craft enthusiasts.

Axminster Tools is a family business run by industry professionals and passionate craftspeople. Their knowledge is accessible to all, via regular tutorial videos, live streams, project plans and woodworking tips that are completely free to access.

As a British retailer, Axminster Tools supports British design and quality. They work with a number of UK suppliers in celebration of the nation’s skills and craftsmanship. They also design and manufacture an increasing number of own branded products in their Devon-based engineering facility, including bringing manufacturing back from overseas in many cases.

www.axminstertools.com

Woodworker of the Year finalists 2022

WWotY finalistsHeritage Crafts and Axminster Tools have announced the finalists of the inaugural Woodworker of the Year award, including a woodcarver, a furniture maker and a musical instrument maker.

This new award celebrates a heritage craftsperson who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of woodworking over the past year. It recognises a contribution that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a particular woodworking skill.

The three finalists for this year’s award are (in alphabetical order):

  • Jonathan Hill – Jonathan is a maker of historic and modern stringed instruments including the viola d’amore, lira da braccio, violin and viola families. Following training at West Dean College, he worked for a master violin maker in Yorkshire, and studied instrument making in Turkey with a master traditional oud maker.
  • Robin Johnson – Robin is produces tailor-made joinery, furniture and metalwork from his workshop in hastings. In the past 12 months he has designed and built the furniture for a Gold Medal winning main garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and been featured on TV shows Kings of the Wood and Salvage Hunters: The Restorers.
  • David Robinson – David is a self-taught woodcarver with 30 years’ experience, and the Master Carver’s Association’s most recent inductee. He works largely with chisels he made himself from old penknives and bits of old Land Rover spring.

The winner will be announced on Monday 30 January at a Winners’ Reception at the House of Lords.

Heritage Crafts is the national charity set up to celebrate and safeguard traditional craft skills as a fundamental part of the UK’s living heritage.

Axminster Tools works together with makers and creators at all levels, from trade professionals through to craft enthusiasts.