I had always thought that the best chopping boards were very simple, angular ones, but Hampson Woods have proved me wrong as I am now hooked on their distinctive handles. Chances are that you’ve seen the elegant curving wooden handle of a Hampson Woods chopping board in a photoshoot or shop lately. Their work is popping up all over the place, and I love that they have come up with a design that is instantly recognisable as their own, yet still very timeless and classic.
Hampson Woods evolved as a pairing of woodworker, Jonty Hampson and artist and designer, Sascha Gravenstein. Together they design and create hand made, small-batch products using wood sourced from their own woodland in Cumbria. This is a rare treat, meaning they can know exactly where each product originally had its roots.
Tell us about what you do?
We are small-batch producers of wooden products for the home – serving boards, porridge spoons and hanging racks. All of our work is designed, made by hand and finished in our Hackney workshop.
What materials do you use and why?
We predominantly work with London Plane, a hardwood with an incredible depth of colour and variation in grain. It has been little used these past decades, and visually always keeps you guessing. As it’s not grown commercially, it is only really available when a tree comes down or has to be removed, so it’s not the easiest to source. We also work with Elm, Ash, Oak and Sycamore, all also sourced from within Britain. We only acquire timber if we know its provenance; where it once stood.
What is your favourite wood to work with?
My current favourite is Ash. It is almost buttery in its consistency, yet so versatile and strong. Sycamore is growing on me too, it finishes like glass and has a real sheen to it.
Wood is such a beautiful and giving material. Even years after it stood, it never seems to lose its energy. As it is worked, and especially when oiled, new shades and subtle pleasing variations in colour will appear. As it ages, its texture and character will change, and whatsmore, no two pieces are ever the same.
What techniques do you use?
The majority of our work is sanding, from shaping right down to finish. We always work with the piece in hand, and with patience, taking it, bit by bit, to a comfortable and smooth form. We’re always ensuring a very high quality of finish.
What/who inspires you to make your work?
The world around us, friends, family, Henry Moore, David Nash. Rebirth of timbers that have ended their previous life and the simple pleasures of working by hand.
Can you recommend a good book?
I’m an admirer of Ruskin but only in small doses. For reference, The Wood Book and for fun, The Treehouse Book.
Where can we buy your work?
From several shops across London, and the UK and also from our website.
What are your plans/ideas for the future?
Collaboration with craftsmen of other materials to see how beautiful timbers and grains can sit alongside other naturally occurring, texturally contrasting materials. Also to take on more hands, and branch out into other parts of the home.
Thank you Jonty!
Workshop photographs by Robin Sinha.