Knock on wood
Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees, but one Fishbourne creative reveals all to Charlotte Pearson.
Trees are one of nature’s beauties. Not only are they a life source, but they have history ingrained in them.
Therefore it seems only fair if a tree is chopped or falls down it should live on.
“One of my influences is George Nakashima, he believed you should treat wood with respect,” furniture maker Jez Partridge reveals.
“I find wood fascinating and I go searching for interesting pieces. I have scouts who get in touch when they find items.
“There is some beautiful wood out there. I am all about finding it, working with it and then creating something beautiful for someone to have in their home.”
Jez adds he enjoys creating the bespoke pieces and that there are two types of orders.
“There are people that come to me and say they want a chair and leave me to it,” he says.
“Others come with a brief of how they want it to look and what they want me to use. Both are good and very different.
“With the bespoke pieces I go to their home and talk to them.
“It is good for me to get an idea of where they live, what they do and their style so I can make something that will fit in.”
When working with a client Jez ensures there is a conversation so they are included in the whole process.
“There is a lot of toing and froing,” he says. “I talk to them at each stage so they feel involved.”
The first part is the concept, a 3D image on a computer, where bits and pieces can be amended and changed. Jez then produces a working guide and starts creating the piece.
“People are able to come and see what I am doing at each stage so they are truly proud of the item that comes out of it,” he says.
Alongside the bespoke pieces Jez also creates speculative items to showcase what he can do.
When I visit he is just finishing a table using Scottish river pebbles encapsulated in epoxy resin on a curved base of laminated English cherry.
“It is so people can see what I can do and come to me with other things they want,” he reveals.
“If someone had an old pair of keys I could put that in the epoxy.”
Jez’s passion for his work is evident and he becomes more and more animated as he shows me the different types of wood in his workshop and talks me through the work he has created.
“Wood is such a beautiful medium to work with,” he enthuses.
“The pattern is never the same and you never know what you are going to find when you start to cut the wood.”
However Jez initially started on another career path before retraining.
“I always wanted to do something with my hands, but at the school I went to it wasn’t what people did,” he recalls.
“After a few years working, my friend John Bradbury, curriculum team manager for construction at Chichester College, suggested I do the cabinet making course.
“It was headed up by Christian Notley – a very talented furniture designer/maker in his own right.
“I left college in 2013 and the workshop became available so I jumped at the chance and moved into it in 2014.”
Looking to the future, Jez would love to work with interior designers.
“If they want something in particular for a client I would love to be a part of it,” Jez explains.
“If they see a chair and like it, but want a small batch I could do that. I can’t mass produce but I can do small batches.
“Or I modify my design to fit in with what they need – a particular colour or finish.”
With nature at its roots there is no doubt Jez Partridge’s creations will be around for years to come.
Napoleonic timber bench, with pebble legs
“A couple saw me on the Emsworth art trail, and asked me to make a piece for them,” Jez says.
“They had a piece of wood which was hanging over their fireplace. It had been painted but they had been told it was part of a fortification in Southsea in the Napoleonic era.
“Once I had stripped the paint off, I found it wasn’t a wood native to this country so I didn’t understand how it was part of a fortification.
“I got talking to someone at Chichester College and he said it probably was from this time as when ships travelled to different countries they had to re-ballast the ship and would use local wood.
“They would go into the forest, chop down a hard wood and sail back with it.
“It all made sense, as this tree is a purple heart and is from South America. It is about 300 years old and the provenience all checked out.
“It is these things that fascinates me.”
Knife box in English walnut with burr elm veneered interior
“The people who commissioned it went for dinner with some Saudi Princes in Cannes,” Jez reveals.
“One of the Saudi princes said how much he loved the steak knives in the restaurant.
“So when the couple came back they tracked the knives down but they didn’t come in a nice box so they commissioned me to make a box.
“It was out of walnut – you can see the book marking of the wood where the grain is a mirror image.
“It also has magnets so the knives slip into place and don’t move.”
‘Golden Ratio’ coffee table – furniture grade birch plywood covered in rosewood veneer with red and white Formica laminate inlay
“My friend was dismantling an old fashion camera and I loved the shape inside of it so I created the box using Formica laminate,” he explains.
“The rectangles are using the golden ratio, which makes something pleasing to the eye. Your eye doesn’t know why but it likes it.”
The types of wood Jez uses…
– English walnut
– American black walnut
– American cherry
– English elm
– European smoked oak
– Spalted ash
– Olive ash
– London plane (a.k.a. lacewood)
– Burr walnut veneer
– Birds eye maple veneer
– Burr elm veneer
– Pippy oak
– English oak
– A burred oak
For more information and to view Jez’s work, visit www.facebook.com/jezpartridgefurniture
Jez will be showcasing his work at this year’s Emsworth Art Trail, The Sussex Brewery, Main Road, Emsworth on April 25, 26, and May, 2, 3,4 from 10am until 5pm.
April 10, 2015 Interiors and Property