From idea to object – the creative process of woodcarving.

Oak spoons with coffee beans
Two oak spoons with coffee beans
This week we’re sharing the story of how a hand made Designs in Mind product is created.
Our fabulous, creative products are involved in a lengthy process, from initial inception, to creation and completion, before arriving in our high street shop in Oswestry, Shropshire. They can also be purchased on our website.
Our Artist are always planning ahead with products and have a designated planning week every April, where the studio is closed to Members and ideas are born.
All of the items you see, whether you’re online shopping or you’ve visited the high street store, have their own back story!
They would have started to come to life as a thought in the brain of one of our creative team; an Artist, Member, or Volunteer. An idea is fired up in a neural pathway before being a solid, tactile creation. Neural pathways are the connections between neurons that light up when we think of something for the first time. These connections form a pattern in our brains. It’s amazing to think that every one of our beautiful products started it’s journey like this!
After the initial thought, our Artist team share the ideas with other members of staff, perhaps making a mood board and writing up a product description. Once the idea is developed, and production is planned, the next step in our product process begins. The Artists roll the idea out to our Members on their studio days. That’s when a product brief is shared with us and we create a vast array of creative pieces that become retail items. At the moment we are working on creative products using Ceramics, based on the theme for this year, ‘Lark.’
We have separate Focus Groups for different products too, for example, Woodworking. We thought you’d like to hear how our beautiful, tactile, hand crafted and unique, wooden items come about.
Oak spoons with coffee beans
Two oak spoons with coffee beans
I borrowed this wonderful description, below, from my colleague Rosie, our Product Lead.
“All of our wooden items have been hand made in the Designs in Mind Studio by our team of talented makers, that form our woodwork focus group. 
This group has evolved over time and become a Tuesday afternoon ritual for those that attend. The practise of working with wood itself is very absorbing with a meditative quality to it that is extremely beneficial to mental health.  
What started as an initial guided tutorial in the basics of whittling, has now developed in a personal journey for each of our makers, and has offered the opportunity for each person to create something really unique, whilst enjoying the company of others. 
Each item has been made from foraged, found, or donated wood. The foraged wood has been a particular favourite to work with, as each branch is unique in it’s organic form, which in turn influences the shape of the final product.  
Our makers have experimented in making spoons, butter knives, hair pins, light pulls, and raclette scrapers.
We are currently developing a new range of carved wooden products, some of which will work alongside our ceramics and allow for more collaboration across the studio. Some which will be stand alone products and unique to each of our makers.
We hope you enjoy our handmade wooden products as much as we have enjoyed making them.”
I fall in love easily with our hand crafted wooden items, this means I do my best to avoid looking at them in the shop or I’d end up buying them all! So far I have a beautiful spoon I purchased as well as luckily receiving a spoon and knife that were in a Secret Santa gift at our Members Christmas Party, 2023. I might just have to treat myself to another wooden item soon, as it’s my birthday next month.
I was originally part of the beginning of our Woodwork Focus Group on a Tuesday afternoon, where we were trained by a visiting Artist. Those who continued made some fantastic pieces and really are gifted artisans.
I recently chatted to our Volunteer Ros, who is key in leading our Woodwork Focus Group and gleaned this lovely, enthusiastic comment from her: “It’s always so enjoyable to enable our Members to try out different kinds Focus Groups. In Woodworking Group its been fantastic to see our carvers enjoying different kinds of wood and to see their items being sold as quality products. 
Personally I like to work with the Birch wood that falls where I take my local walks, on The Cliffe. I forage only that which has fallen, whether due to the storm damage or perhaps where it’s weakened by the fungus that grows on it. The fungus creates a unique, spalted pattern which lends itself to such a naturally adorned wooden item. My personal favourite to carve is the small spoons. I hope you’ll enjoy having one of our Wooden Products in your home, they are practical as as well as tactile and beautiful look at” 
I’d like add that our Members gets a real boost and sense of purpose when their products are purchased, so if your looking for a gift for yourself or another please do consider shopping with us. Every boost in wellbeing is an achievement to those facing daily mental health challenges and your purchases play a part in out Members’ recovery journeys.
Blog Co Written & researched by Willow Member & Social Media Coordinator & Rosie Product Lead