There is nothing quite like natural wood especially when it's the root and branches of an old Mediterranean vine that has been in the ground for one hundred years. The gnarled and twisted dense wood is initially hidden from view under layers of thick protective outer bark and its’ true beauty is only revealed when these layers are removed.
A particular quality of vine wood is that, unlike driftwood which it is sometimes mistaken for, it does not go brittle but retains its' strength and flexibility, a feature which makes it difficult to work with but rewarding and robust.
All items are made from scratch in our North Oxfordshire workshop and the range now encompasses some products made from the root and trunks of ancient olive trees. A dozen or more processes, developed over the last twenty five years, are involved in producing the finished result. The actual production time required to create an item will vary from a few hours for a small candle holder to several weeks for a full-size coffee, console or dining table.
This furniture is built to last, so that in the future people may enjoy and appreciate its' art form as much as on the day it was created.
The 100 year old grapevine wood comes from the sunny vineyards in the south of France whilst the olive root can be more than 400 years old. The vines were originally planted in narrower rows and picked by hand but today are unsuitable for modern machines and being less economically viable some are replace with new vines. They are uprooted and left to dry out in the sunny vineyards for some years before being used as firewood or to make charcoal.
The outer protective layers of skin are removed by hand with a knife.
The vines are transported back to the UK.
The wood is treated for wood boring beetles and other insects and then left to season.
Each piece is individually selected and skilfully assembled by hand to create the specific shape required. It is a thoughtful, time consuming process and a frequently asked question is “how do you decide on the final shape”? As with most things, the simple truth is that “you have to imagine the form in your mind in order to make it a reality”.
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Once assembled, it can be cut back and sanded to individual briefs. Then is may be sealed, waxed, polished or limed, depending on the finish required, to create a practical yet sculptural object that is bound to create interest and become a talking point wherever it is displayed.
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How it all came about
The idea of using the roots and branches of old grape vines took shape over twenty years ago in the South of France when it was noticed that the only use they seemed to serve was as good firewood.
With an inherited natural ability with his hands, what began as a hobby for John Honsinger turned into a life-long love affair with the vine or ‘souche’ as it is called in France, igniting a passion to create and design a limited range of furniture that is unquestionably different and unique. Following a long and successful career in Saatchi & Saatchi, London, one of the most creative advertising agencies in the world, he is now dedicated to a creative art form of a different kind.
Commenting on his work John says "Owning an item of furniture like this is an expression of individuality and will become a statement piece in any home. It is unique and timeless - both old yet new, with a natural beauty that is enhanced through its design. It gives me great pleasure to be able to share my passion with others".