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The Mudlark

The Mudlark is me, Nick Stewart and I live in Oare, a village at the head of Oare Creek, near Faversham in Kent.

All mudlark pieces are handmade in my small home workshop using traditional construction techniques (tenons, dovetails etc) adapted to deal with the irregularity of driftwood.

Commissions are considered on the understanding that what is possible is entirely dependent upon what the tides bring in.

Delivery/collection details can be arranged following agreement of sale.


Latest projects

The 2018 'Artists Open House' trail is now finished. I still have a number of items for sale... click on the logo above to see what is available.

A selection of my work will be on display throughout December at the Creek Creative Christmas Emporium in Faversham.

(updated November 2018).


Furniture

Each piece of mudlark furniture is finished with three coats of linseed oil, then polished with my own preparation of beeswax and turpentine.The designs are suggested by the driftwood itself, which I sort into groups of 'compatible' timbers until a design jumps out at me.

Sculpture

Some of the pieces of driftwood which I collect are crying out to be carved rather than be incorporated into a piece of furniture. I like to have several sculptures on the go at any one time, that I can come back to when the fancy takes me.

Driftwood

All of the driftwood which I use is collected along the coast of North Kent. Most is picked up by bicycle from the muddy creeks and inlets which penetrate the salt-marshes around Faversham in Kent, some is picked up from farther afield by car.
Driftwood comes in all shapes and sizes, and in varying states of decomposition. The majority of the pieces which I find have been worked at some stage in the past and will often contain features that provide clues to their original use before being cast adrift in the sea. Some pieces require a good deal of preparation before they are suitable for use in furniture-making. All rotten sections have to be removed down to 'good wood' and every piece has to be thoroughly dried before being used (this can take over a year for some of the larger pieces). If necessary I will treat wood with boron-salt, a naturally occurring mineral, to kill off any infestations, although in my experience driftwood appears to be rendered immune to fungal and insect attack by sea-water.
The processes of decomposition and erosion in the marine environment have the effect of destroying the straight lines of worked timbers to reveal the underlying beauty of the wood. I like to exploit this feature of driftwood to create pieces of furniture which give the appearance of having been tossed through the seas themselves.
In addition to wood I often incorporate other found materials into my work. These include holed beach-pebbles, ironware, sea-worn glass and pottery, rope, bones, and light-bulbs. Anything which attracts my attention during my hunting trips is brought back to the workshop for possible inclusion into future projects.


Green chestnut

Chestnut coppice woodlands are a common feature of the landscape in this part of Kent. They have long been managed to provide timber for hop-poles, fencing, hurdles and suchlike. The coppicing cycle favours nightingales and bluebells. This sustainable resource is nowadays under-utilised since the demand for coppice products has dwindled.
Chestnut cleaves readily and is an easy wood to work 'green'. The wood that I use is cut from a local chestnut woodland where I split and roughly shape the pieces before taking them home to dry. The pieces are then finished and made into chairs in my workshop.
The process of splitting the timber while green relieves any inbuilt stresses producing strong components which follow the natural grain. I like to make use of natural bends in the timber, thus avoiding the need for steam-bending.
The chair seats are made from woven strips of chestnut bark and have proven to be attractive, comfortable, strong and hard-wearing.


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