Brad’s talk was described as “Bowl carving not turning” although his Google entry says ” Bespoke organic furniture and wood sculpture”, and I see his work as the most exciting “Commercial wood sculptor” we have seen for years. He uses both hand and power tools to produce a sculpturally interesting, wide range of products including unique furniture, chairs, and kitchen items. See his web site on www.bradquarless.co.uk. His uncle was a miner who whittled and father was a carver of items for churches who took him into the workshops. He has had a journey in wood from woodyard to finished wood from childhood. The architecture of wrecked boats, driftwood and found wood inspire his work.
There was an interesting display of tools, all were quick, some for heavy wood removal and others for a smooth finish. We were impressed but the costs were too high for amateurs as we would not make enough use of them. Brad says the tools had to earn their keep and there seemed to be a garage full of tools that had failed to live up to his standards.
Brad sources his wood direct driftwood from the shore, farmers fields, and from tree surgeons ( it helps to have a cousin in the business) and dries it out before he can work on it. Above is a 2 inch thick slab of cherry which is destined to be a garden sculpture. The carving process starts with heavy power tools exploring the natural holes, and cracks to eliminate the weakness they might introduce to the finished work. He listens to the wood, is guided by the wood, allows the wood to tell him what to do, and does not attempt force his ideas on to the wood. The holes make viewing points to encourage the public to explore, see more of the surroundings, and share his enthusiasm for wood and sculpture.
This huge piece of burr wood was really heavy and as we had begun to expect the vice could hold a ton of wood. Brad is working on the inside with an angle grinder and a carbide cutter to cut out the inside of the bowl. He would normally take out much of the interior with a chain saw, but was concerned that the wood might contain a void as it was not as heavy as the bulk suggested. A slower approach was necessary
This is the bread and butter side of Brads business. A shallow bowl in sapele, roughed out with the angle grinder and then smoothed to a silky finish using a Kirjes Sanding & Polishing System tool. There is a rubber ball inside the specially shaped sanding sleeve which eliminates the tendency for the sander to leave groves in the work. With these tools, brad can carve a bowl in 15 minutes, and sell them at a competitive price. The bowl would be finished with 70%medical beeswax mixed with 30% medical mineral oil, which makes it suitable for serving food
This is one of several slices of a ash tree that had rotted in the middle and will make exciting sculptures.
Brad brought in a selection of books that have informed his work
Exploration in Wood by Tim Stead, With the grain by Tim Stead. Decorative woodwork by A.W.P. Kettles, Creative wood sculpture by G Bentham, Red, Black, Other by David Nash, Makepeace by J Myerson