Located within the magical landscape of the Black Isle, a peninsular steeped in history and flanked by wild Highland beaches, is Black Isle Woodturning - a business born from a passion for sustainability, quality workmanship and preservation of traditional craft. We were lucky enough to speak with founder and artisan, Andy Walters, during a break from hand-carving our beautiful Scottish elm candlesticks.
Chatting to us from The Old School, his workshop in Inverness where he sits surrounded by a library of stacked wood blocks; Andy is Yorkshire born and although having relocated to the Black Isle in 2007 with his wife, Rebecca, he greets us with that cheerful Yorkshire accent and spirit.
The impetus to pursue woodturning is deep seated with Andy and can be traced back to childhood, with both his father and grandfather having worked with wood. He goes further to warmly recount the moment he fell in love with the craft after watching a carpenter working at his lathe in a small shop when holidaying with his parents in Beddgelert, Wales.
Despite the fire that had been lit within Andy at such a young age, he began his professional life as school technician after studying for his bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, and it was only after he came across a lathe once again during this time that his passion was reignited. Andy animatedly imparts that he has always felt "a need to use (his) hands and create", leading him to embark upon woodturning as a hobby - a hobby that, years later, was to become his profession.
Treasuring his connection with an age-old craft, it is clear that heritage sits at the heart of Andy's inspirations - the lathe itself being an ancient tool, dating as far back as 1300 BC. Andy proudly takes great influence from his breathtaking Highland backdrop and uses sustainably sourced timber from Scottish wind-fallen trees. He speaks with dedication of his respect for the material and admits to taking great pleasure in the fact that no two pieces of wood are the same and that, as a turner, he is the first person to see what is revealed when cutting into it, "it is a privilege to see what is unfolding before you".
Andy has been accepted into the Guild of Master Craftsmen in recognition of his expert knowledge and skill within the field of woodturning. His impassioned adventures with Black Isle Woodturning continue, as an artisan and teacher, and beckon him further afield with global projects on the horizon.