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Acorn Oakbot

posted on June 24, 2012

Alongside the beautiful fine furniture and joinery being crafted from the timber of the OneOak tree, a piece of a equally impressive but very different kind is emerging from sculptor Thomas Humphrey. Dubbed the Acorn Oakbot the amazing piece was inspired by the Hasbro Transformers, specifically the character Optimus Prime, and signifies the connection between humans and trees in a very dynamic sense.

The Acorn Oakbot is being made from the slabwood of the OneOak tree: the large slabs cut from the main stems when they passed through the sawmill Deep in Wood. Normally slabwood is seen as ‘waste’ and is converted into firewood.

Concept sketches by New Zealand-based animator Fancis Hamon

Thomas worked with friend and New Zealand-based animator Francis Hamon, to establish the dynamic pose they wanted to achieve


The Acorn Oakbot sculpture design

The Acorn Oakbot sculpture design by Thomas Humphrey. It features the Transformer-like figure emerging from the ground in a dynamic pose.

Concept design for the head of the Acorn Oakbot

Concept design for the head of the Acorn Oakbot

Thomas Humprey is being assisted by a student Ronan Hanley from Rycotewood Furniture Centre, OCVC, who has been helping with chainsawing the slabwood.

Thomas Humprey working on the metal support for the Acorn Oakbot

Thomas Humprey working on the metal support for the Acorn Oakbot

Everyone will be able to inspect the sculpture with all the other OneOak products and stories at Art in Action 19-22 July.

Sculptor Thomas Humphrey‘s website.

Category: Art, OneOak project, Wood

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OneOak fine furniture competition winning piece

posted on June 19, 2012

Matt Wakeham sent us recently some photos of his work making his design of nesting coffee tables from the OneOak tree.

Matt, an 18 year old student who studies at Rycotewood, was one of the two winners in our 2012 OneOak fine furniture competition. You can about the competition and the winning entries here.

Matt’s pieces will be on display, alongside all the other OneOak products, at Art in Action in July (see Events).


Category: OneOak project, Wood

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OneOak fine furniture competition winners

posted on April 13, 2012

We announced recently that the judging had taken place of entries by Rycotewood students into the OneOak fine furniture competition – read more. We are delighted to announce the two winners. They are Matt Wakeham (18) and Harry Friday (19). We asked Matt and Harry to tell us more about themselves and their entries into the competition. Along with their words below, we include photos of their models.

Matt Wakeham, 18, has just finished a furniture and cabinet making course at Warwickshire College’s School of Arts. He said: “My idea for the OneOak competition is designed around the pure shape of the rough sawn, waney-edged boards that were curving and tapering from one end to the other. My design incorporates the timber’s honest and natural beauty by using all the character and knots where possible. I aim to give the piece a contemporary arts and crafts feel through the construction shown on display – these will be through dovetails. I am very grateful to be part of this unique project and look forward to making the tables and exhibiting them at Art in Action this summer.”

OneOak fine furniture competition winner entry

OneOak fine furniture competition winner entry by Matt Wakeham. Model and concept design.

Harry Friday, 19, spent three years at Moulton College in Northampton studying furniture design and make. “I am now in my first year at Rycotewood which is going very well. I’m designing my own work, which is all new to me but is fulfilling my talent. The piece I designed is a console table, based on the way that the tree grows. The legs give a splitting branches effect, making the piece look like is growing.”

OneOak fine furniture competition winner entry by Harry Friday. Model and concept design.

OneOak fine furniture competition winner entry by Harry Friday. Model and concept design.

We will be following up on Matt and Harry’s progress with their pieces here on this blog and as Matt says, they will be on display at Art in Action from 19-22 July.

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OneOak fine furniture competition

posted on March 12, 2012

Last year, students from Oxford & Cherwell Valley College’s (OCVC) Rycotewood Furniture Centre worked with all the school children in the OneOak project to design outdoor seating (read more). The students based their designs on the work of the children, and five schools are now proud owners of some unique seating in their playgrounds, made from the green (unseasoned) timber of the OneOak tree.

One year later, the remaining boards cut from the main stem of the OneOak tree have been seasoned and are with many professional furniture makers, joiners and craftspeople. Some of the boards were donated to OCVC for a fine furniture competition, and students there have been hard at work drawing up plans and scale models for their entries.

Last week an expert panel came together to view the entries. They were Joe Bray from OCVC Rycotewood, Dr Simon Fineman who is Chairman and CEO of  Timbmet, Dr Philip Koomen of Philip Koomen Furniture, and our own CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery.

OneOak fine furniture competition judging 2012

OneOak fine furniture competition 2012 judging panel. Left to right: Joe Bray OCVC; Dr Simon Fineman, Chairman & CEO Timbmet; Dr Philip Koomen, Philip Koomen Furniture; Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO Sylva Foundation

The judges were delighted with the number of entries and their quality. It was exciting to see the talent emerging in a new generation of craftspeople. It was difficult making our decision but two winning entries were identified. The makers will be informed today and we will make a full announcement on this website soon.

The two winners will be donated the OneOak boards to make their winning designs; the furniture pieces joining our OneOak exhibitions from July onwards.

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OneOak timber in the hands of Makers

posted on November 22, 2011

A major milestone was reached in the OneOak project yesterday. The timber was removed from the drying kiln at Deep in Wood sawmill, and the Makers came to collect their boards.

OneOak Makers - November 2011

Some of the OneOak Makers gathered in the timber shop at Deep in Wood

Makers present included Philip Koomen, Derek Elliot, Robert Ingham, Philip Clayden, Simon Clements, Martin Damen, Terry Hardaker, Pathway Workshop, and students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre (Oxford & Cherwell Valley College) led by Chris Hyde and Joseph Bray.

These makers will be working mostly with the main sawn boards from the OneOak tree, and their products will join those already made by other makers from its branchwood and waste products. All Makers will now get underway in making a myriad of wooden objects from the OneOak tree’s timber, in readiness for our major exhibitions from Summer 2012.

Our huge thanks to James Binning and team at Deep in Wood for hosting the event and for their generous support of the  OneOak project over the last two years.


Category: OneOak project, Wood

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OneOak at major art show

posted on July 15, 2011
Art in Action 2011

For the second year running we are taking the OneOak exhibition to Art in Action; one the UK’s major art shows.

This year we are delighted to have some of our makers and collaborators alongside us in the Woodworking area.  These include Richard Fox sculptor, Rodas Irving green furniture maker, Martin Damen green woodworker, Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Living Woods magazine, DZ Design and Simon Clements.

We will be showing several of our films, displaying some of the inspiring original works of art, and have several large pieces that have been already been made from the OneOak tree.  We will display the memorial sculpture made by Simon Clements, a spider bench made by Ian Smith of Rycotewood, and we will display the first length of timber and the 22 boards from the tree in the form that it’s been dried at the sawmill.

For the first time we are also selling limited edition prints of some of the artwork.

Art in Action is on between Thursday 21st and Sunday 24th July – we hope to see you there.

Find out more including directions and about the show

Category: OneOak project

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Spider bench from the OneOak tree

posted on April 12, 2011
OneOak Spider Bench by Ian Smith

OneOak Spider Bench by Ian Smith. In the foreground is the model, with students constructing the actual bench behind. Photo OCVC.

Students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College have been working with our partner schools to design benches for their school grounds, to be made from the timber of the OneOak tree.

Furniture Design Student Ian Smith has been working with Stonesfield Primary School.  Here is his story.

The OneOak seating project was a great chance for me to involve children in the design of outdoor seating for their own school. Working with the children at Stonesfield school was an exciting opportunity for me as a designer. I was keen from the start to try to involve the children’s ideas without leading them too strongly in any set direction. I also wanted to produce a design with impact and that would make a statement so the children would feel that the tree had been transformed personally for them into something unique.

It quickly became apparent that children viewed seating in a very different way to adults. We have set standards and requirements that must be met, however, the children’s ideas were quite different. They wanted excitement and adventure, this was further reflected in the ideas and designs the children produced.

Following this lead the final design followed a spider theme that the children had included in some of their design work. The final piece reflects a spider, has a dynamic feel of movement and allows seating at different heights, hopefully a reflection of the children’s ideas and wants.

This project showed me that involving the children created a completely different approach to my usual work, the children added ideas and concepts without the restrictions of the standards we all adhere to. This was a valuable lesson in designing with an open mind.

Ian Smith, Furniture Design Student 2010/2011, RYCOTEWOOD FURNITURE CENTRE.
Artist in Residence 2011/2012

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School children designing furniture

posted on November 17, 2010

Children from all our OneOak partner schools have completed their next design workshop with students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre.

Our CEO Gabriel Hemery joined with the students on a recent visit to three classes at Wood Farm Primary School where the children started developing 3D models.  They came up with some great ideas.

The children will be visiting Rycotewood Furniture Centre at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College early in 2011, when they will see the final designs developed by the students and be able to vote on their favourite for their school.  Each school will have an item of outdoor furniture made for their school grounds, from wood sourced from the OneOak tree.

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Furniture students start working with OneOak schools

posted on October 14, 2010

Students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre, part of Oxford & Cherwell College, have started working with our five OneOak partner schools.

Over the next few months they will be working closely with the same children who had watched the OneOak tree being felled last January, to design and build outdoor furniture for each school, made from the timber of the OneOak tree.

This week six of the students visited Wood Farm primary school at Headington to meet the children and to start work on the creative side of the project.  The next visit in about four weeks time will focus on designing the outdoor furniture, followed by a visit to the college by the children to see the workshops and the work in progress.

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OneOak at the sawmill

posted on February 26, 2010

Today we reached a major milestone in the OneOak project as the OneOak tree was sawn at Deep in Wood sawmill.

Owner and sawmiller James Binning invited some of the future users of the wood to watch the sawing.  Guests included Joe Bray and 13 students from Rycotewood Furniture Centre, green wood furniture designer-maker Rodas Irving, timber framer Norman Guiver, and Chris Mills from Upton Smokery.  The foresters from Blenheim also came to watch their tree being milled.

Our main advisor in the wood aspect of the project, Philip Koomen, was on hand to advise on how best to cut each of the tree’s three timber sections.  We all waited anxiously as the first 4.5m long section was cut into for the first time.  It is never possible to know how good the timber in a tree will be until it is sawn.  It could be that after 160 years of growing in the woodland at Blenheim, and a year of planning in our project, that the timber may have been of poor quality!

We were delighted and relieved that, as board by board was sliced off the giant logs by the super powerful bandsaw, the quality of the boards was excellent.  In the trade they would be called “low grade character timber“.  Expert Philip Koomen was surprised by the quantity of usuable timber and delighted by some of the figuring and colouring in the boards.  For many of the potential uses of the tree this will help in bringing extra value and beauty to the objects.

Now begins a patient waiting game.  The boards were put back together one by one to reform the log with sticks in between.  They will now be kept this way and allowed to air dry.  The usual rule of thumb is one year for every one inch (26mm) of board thickness.  We will need to wait until 2012 for the larger boards to air dry, although the thinner boards will be ready for use in 2011.  Other boards will be used sooner still – by green wood workers – and we look forward to seeing our first manufactured products later this year.

Category: OneOak project, Wood

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