CUTE: Steam Bending, Tom Raffield

Handcrafted wooden lighting and furniture made in Cornwall

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Tom Raffield is one of the core designers in using the steam bending. He created his own line and techniques just to get the shape that he want to.

Tom’s bag technique

“Creating complex 3D shapes from a single plank of wood is made much easier with Tom Raffield’s bag technique.

Whilst studying at Falmouth College, Tom realised he wanted to be able do more than traditional steam-bending techniques would allow and so he invented an innovative new method of steam-bend wood, which he called the bag technique.

Traditional steam bending sees wood placed in a chamber of steam and then removed into the air to be bent- but this method didn’t allow Tom the time to create the complex shapes he wanted. He developed a new technique using a steam filled bag on localised sections of the wood, enabling him to create bends in the wood whilst it is still being subjecting to the bending effects of the steam.

Being able to bend the wood whilst it is being steamed allows Tom to craft pieces much more slowly and carefully as the time restrictions usually imposed by the rapid cooling of the wood being are no longer a problem.

A jig system with clamps and composite straps is used to actually bend the wood, creating a space to do so within a series of scaffolding bars and thus removing the confines of shaping on a bench.

The bag technique allows the development of far more complex 3D forms than traditional chamber steam-bending, as well as enabling work on localised sections of a piece of wood in order to achieve a high quality finish, with far less risk of splitting owing to temperature change.

Tom said: “This technique is perfect for sculptures and one-off pieces but is very time consuming and therefore not commercially viable for large-scale production. It’s really an art process, enabling the artist to shape wood as you might shape clay.” (Raffield, 2017)

A look on his designs:

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Gwelsen Screen

The opposing steam bent twists of English oak making up the Gwelsen Screen create a beautiful pattern revealing glimpses of the other side of the room. The combination of solid oak timber and complex, vertical steam bent spirals offers something very unique to any space.

Materials

Made from sustainably sourced English oak. Finished with a blend of natural oils to give a matt finish.

Dimensions

W 60 -180cm / H 180cm / D 5cm

Disclaimer

Colour of wood may vary, this is part of the beauty of natural materials

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The Skipper Pendant

A smaller version of the Butterfly Pendant, the minimalistic design of the Skipper will suit those who like simplified shapes but do not wish to compromise on quality design. The shade is made from petals of sustainably sourced ash, oak or walnut. Inspired by Scandinavian design principles, the Skipper Pendant allows the beauty of the wood to be fully appreciated by its owner.

Made by hand in Cornwall, England from sustainably sourced wood and finished with an eco-friendly, non-toxic varnish.

Materials

Sustainably sourced ash (light wood), oak (medium wood) or walnut (dark wood).

Supplied with a 2m Satin Nickel Ceiling Assembly Kit (E27/E26).

Dimensions

Standard – Height / 40 cm       Diameter / 62 cm.

Disclaimer

Colour of wood may vary, this is part of the beauty of natural materials

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Arbor Dining Chair

Produced from the finest English oak, the ergonomic arms of the Arbor Dining Chair have been steam bent from a single piece of solid timber. This unusual design has been created to enhance any room and pairs perfectly with the Treave Dining Table. Upholstered in wool from one of the last remaining vertical woollen mills in Britain it is available in Canary Yellow, Cobalt Blue and Islington Plain Grey.

Materials

Made from sustainably sourced English oak. Finished with a blend of natural oils to give a matt finish. Upholstered with 100% British wool.

Dimensions

W 61cm / D 54cm / H 72cm

Disclaimer

Colour of wood may vary, this is part of the beauty of natural materials

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