Having done something many of us only fantasize about, Les seems to be doing well and is quite pleased with his decision. “Essentially, Pren was to be the showcase for my work, but we were realistic about the prospect of earning an income from my work alone and there was not an established market for my sort of work in this region. Thus we came upon a plan; we would set up a window and the front end of our premises to look like a gallery, but further inside we would stock a range of locally produced craft-ware, as well as a range of bought-in home accessories that we felt stood well alongside my work. On opening day, at the end of March this year, I had nearly 300 pieces, ranging from bowls and platters, to simple keyrings. The first week was quiet and very little of my work sold, but on the weekend we were sought out by several professional people who had heard about us. My bowls sold like hot cakes and I guess that was the beginning of the process of developing my market and my customer base. I remember the sense of panic at having so many empty spaces on the gallery shelves and I even felt some sort of sense of loss at parting with pieces of work that I had put so much time and effort into.”

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“We have recently completed our first half-year of trading and our turnover has been about 35% ahead of our projected figure. I get commissions which range from as little as £20 up to £350 and pieces of work that I have tentatively priced a little higher than I feel I should, continue to sell. I have several repeat-customers who keep coming back for more and am occasionally given free rein to make exactly what I want for them. Their confidence in me gives me immense satisfaction in my work.”

When asked whose work has influenced him, Les mentions Ray Key and Anders Thorlin early on and more recently Mark Sanger and Pete Moncrieff-Jury. In terms of his style and artistic vision, he describes many interests though continues to be drawn to distressed and natural edged pieces of wood. “My current work is highly varied and I am yet to develop a style of my own, although I do tend to favour using distressed pieces of timber, natural edges and wet turning. I love to incorporate other, sympathetic materials into some of my pieces, especially semi-precious stones, leather, copper and small amounts of silver. I have designed and built my own jigs for holding distressed timber and am content to use split and cracked timber, which I often repair with stitches or staples.”

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Interestingly, Les sometimes sketches out his ideas before bringing them to life.

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Saturday the 20th. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.