Interview with Olive Spendley – Spendley Furniture
Oliver Spendley / Blog / New Forest Show/ Strikingfaces
Each year, the New Forest Show attracts almost 600 trade stands giving the exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their products to the 98,000 visitors who attend the show over the three days. From enormous tractors to cloves of garlic, antiques, bespoke equestrian boots, art, dog leads, rocking horses, plants, cider, shepherd huts, and hundreds more – there is something for everyone.
Many businesses return to the show each year and we particularly enjoy having new trade stands, especially if the business is local.
One exhibitor who has shown his work for the past few years is Oliver Spendley, a 26 year old skilled carpenter who lives in the very depths of the New Forest and specialises in “live edge” bespoke furniture focusing on dining tables.
These unique tables are made from one solid slab of timber making the entire table top with hand crafted wooden or minimalistic metal legs. Oliver also makes kitchen island blocks, again using just one piece of hardwood, showing the natural shape and grain of the tree creating a practical and beautiful surface to work on.
Oliver’s workshop is a traditional joinery workshop with time honoured machinery and he uses a combination of traditional joinery and modern woodworking techniques to create his master pieces.
When he started his business, a big challenge for Oliver was sourcing sustainable local timber. He now finds himself fully involved in the milling and processing of the wood that he uses for his creations, an integral part of the business giving his furniture genuine provenance to the forest.
Oliver explains “Treating each piece of timber individually allows me to use their wild shapes and features. I work with the structural constraints of every piece of wood to create flowing designs. The contrast between the original, organic outline of the tree and the finely finished surface is always truly rewarding.”
This innovative and hugely creative carpenter takes great pride in every piece of bespoke furniture that he creates. He was deeply honoured to produce a commemorative bench for the late Lt. Commander David Balme who seized the Enigma machine from a raided German U Boat.
The most unusual and technically challenging commission was to produce fitted furniture for a tree house – all of the pieces had to be fitted into the natural curves of the integral tree. “Getting the furniture up into the tree was almost as challenging as making it !”, says Oliver.
Another perplexing and puzzling creation was a 4ft wide hollowed out Oak tree bench with carved engraving for an anniversary. The size of the tree and the clients’ idea of sitting two people within the tree made this piece totally unique.”
Oliver says “The New Forest Show is a great place for me to showcase my furniture and connect with people who are interested in my work. It is a valued and enjoyable three days which enable me to generate sales with new and returning clients, future commissions and extended exposure. My motivation stems from the individual pieces of wood and being able to use each slab to its optimum. The New Forest and the surrounding areas are always an inspiration to me and the constantly changing environment, and being immersed in nature is hugely important to me”.