Raphaëlle Jones

Artisan maker and woodworker. 

Originally from Lyon, France, I am based in the North West of England. Like one of the woods I craft, I suppose I have quite literally been uprooted from my patch of earth and replanted here. Paradoxically, I feel firmly rooted, and right at home in this neck of the woods, the domain of craftsmanship and creation.

My work is simple and authentic. Domestic craftsmanship in its elemental form. I create handmade artisan goods, functional as well as decorative objects in both wood and occasionally fabric, with a clear focus on sustainability and upcycling. I use responsibly sourced, locally grown native British hardwoods, salvaged from trees already felled or blown over in storms. Working with both green and seasoned wood is important for me, allowing me to explore different hues and textures, and to witness an organic medium evolve naturally, as the wood essence matures and acquires a beautiful patina over time, warm to the touch, and to the eye.

The making process is dynamic and ever so slightly different every time. In this exploration of pure material, I learn to embrace imperfections inherent to the wood. Happy accidents are frequent, unexpected plot twists in the creation narrative, commonplace. Manipulation of organic, natural material leads to raw, unpolished creation. I am especially in awe of how green wood twists and shapes itself: I learn to somewhat relinquish control and collaborate with nature. The maker's hand exists only to reveal and sublime what is already there. I find this traditional process emotional, it’s about refining and growing, embodying a slower pace of making.

My fascination with art and artisan craft has been lifelong. Graduating from École des Beaux Arts de Saint-Étienne in 1999, I then launched a blog with a line of handmade children’s clothing and experimental crochet. I have always enjoyed painting, Lino-cutting and printing, as well as textile work. I gained experience giving illustration lessons and have recently volunteered, designing and creating Shakespearean costumes for a local theatre company. These artistry opportunities have opened my eyes as a maker and encouraged me to perpetually experiment with diverse methods and mediums. Conscious of sustainability, avid to try my hand at a new craft and armed with a love for handmade and savoir-faire, I naturally progressed into working with wood. Carving spoons and utensils served as an introductory chapter, before I then got hold of a rattly, second hand lathe and dived into wood-turning, creating pots, bowls, plates and all sorts of wooden vessels. This was following the conversion of half our family garage into the snug five metre squared space which has become the home of [up]rooted studio. For three years my favourite medium to work with has been wood, but I still hold textiles and crochet dear. These will undoubtedly pop up in my pieces from time to time, as I oscillate between arts and crafts.

Anything handmade tells me of who made it. For me, this gives a vessel dimension and strength. Hopefully, my inspiration can be reflected in uniquely and meticulously crafted pieces, each chunk of wood having been on a unique journey, each object telling its unique story, and eventually becoming part of someone else’s.