James on the Telly!
James was invited to take part in filming with Kirstie Allsopp for her C4 programme “Kirstie’s Vintage Christmas”. James showed Kirstie how to make a traditional wooden toboggan. A fun time was had by all... now waiting for the snow. 2012.
If you missed the show on 19th December, you can catch it again by clicking here.
James in Print!
James is thrilled to have several of his pieces featured in "Bespoke", a source book of furniture designer makers by Betty Norbury.
"Bespoke" displays a range of pieces from some of the top makers around the country.
It is published by Stobart Davies and is now available.
The Rocking Rhinos are featured in the latest 'Visit Dorset' brochure.
The following is a copy of an interview from the 'Featured Maker' section of FromBritainWithLove.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to start the business...
A. I’ve always had a fascination with creating things from an early age and I was thrilled when my A level design was awarded ‘Millennium Product’ status. Later I worked in Africa and spent time photographing with the Kenyan Wildlife Service, where I met my wife Kirsten. Inspired by my love of wildlife, I started creating wooden rocking animals under the name ‘Rocking Rhinos'. Back in the UK, I trained in fine furniture making with David Savage in Devon, before setting up my own workshop in Dorset in 2000.
Unfortunately, after a few years I had to stop as we had to dedicate all our time to our one year old son who had inexplicably gone deaf. Just as he started thriving, I was diagnosed with cancer, but after two years of treatment and recovery I'm fortunately back in my workshop with new designs, new ideas and raring to go.
Q. Where do you work?
A. I work from home in rural Dorset where we're surrounded by beautiful countryside. It's great to be near my young family - my wife Kirsten Wheeler is a photographer, children’s writer and illustrator - and I love the fact that we can design my furniture together over coffee in her garden studio.
Q. Do you use any specialist techniques or equipment to produce your goods?
A. I design and hand make everything myself. I mostly use hand tools and enjoying finding old tools that are often perfect for specific jobs like shaping a curved table leg.
Q. What are the most popular products in your range?
A. The new Coastal range of tables is very popular. They have glass inserts with compartments which can be filled with things like glass marbles or sea shells - I like to make people smile! The waney-edged mirrors are popular too - they look particularly good above a fireplace, or as a statement piece in a bedroom.
With the children's four poster bed, I create little secret shelves and hidey places for their treasures, and these have been so popular with adults that I've now designed a king sized and double bed version. Of course the rocking animals are always a show stopper at the fairs, and not just with the children. Grandparents have bought them for their new grandchildren knowing that they will stay in the family and be enjoyed by many generations.
Q. What’s the best thing about what you do?
A. Turning a rough plank of wood into a beautifully finished piece of furniture that will be used and loved for years to come always gives me a buzz. I love the variety that this job brings - I can be working on an ornate desk with inlays and intricate dovetails, or a chunky four poster made from huge oak beams. Every day is different. I like the fact that I’m working with a natural product and of course wood is beautiful and tactile in its own right.
Q. Why do you choose to make your products in Britain?
A. Dorset is a beautiful part of Britain and it's inspirational being surrounded by the countryside. I'm very fortunate to be able to do a job that enables me to spend so much time with my family, enabling them to grow up in the countryside.
Q. What’s been your proudest moment?
A. I was extremely proud to win an award from a national furniture show with my very first piece, a ladies writing desk (below, left). My work was also featured in Bespoke, a beautiful coffee table book featuring work by the top furniture makers in Britain. But my proudest moment was making a comeback this year after surviving cancer. That taught me that life is short and it's important to spend it doing things that I love and which give pleasure to others. Every piece I create gives me a huge sense of achievement.
Q. Where do you sell your products?
A. I sell online through my website www.jamesharveyfurniture.com
and also through selected galleries. I have work in the Dansel Gallery in Abbotsbury which specialises in wooden products and some pieces in Fisherton Mill in Salisbury. I also exhibit in local shows so that people can see and touch my work - it's always good to experience it first hand.
Q. Which other British producers inspire you and why?
A. I am inspired by the work of David Savage who creates the most amazing handmade furniture inspired by natural forms. Students come from all over the world to train with him and learn traditional furniture making techniques. Of course I love my wife Kirsten Wheeler's photography - her images are amazing and she has such an eye for colour and composition. She has recently started a business called Kidogo Cards using her beautiful images. We have no wall space left in our house, her canvas prints are everywhere!
Q. Do you make an effort to buy British when food shopping?
A. We're surrounded by the most amazing produce in North Dorset so we eat local food as much as possible. We have Dorset Blue Vinney cheese and The Dorset Blue Soup Co. nearby. The delicious Fudges biscuits are made in our village and the Piddle Brewery with their bottles of Jimmy Riddle are a few miles away. Our local supermarket Dikes stocks wonderful local produce from many of the farmers in our area, so we are totally spoilt.
Q. Where is your favourite place to holiday in Britain?
A. Our weekends are always geared around family time and we're lucky to live near the coast so in a short drive we feel like we're on holiday. We take our little old camper van ‘off the beaten track’ and set up near a river or woods - the boys love toasting marshmallows on a campfire by Hardy’s Monument.
We take visitors for a cream tea to Cerne Abbas to say 'Hi' to the giant, go crabbing at Lymington Pier, take the Swanage Seam Railway or walk the cliffs overlooking Durdle Door. My family live on the Isle of Wight and we often go rockpooling at Steephill Cove, followed by a crab pasty at Wheeler's Cafe- my sons love collecting shells and driftwood to make their own creations.
Q. And finally, what do you do to relax and unwind when you’re not busy working?
A. I love cycling and I’m currently in training for a cycle ride from Dorset to St. Tropez to raise money for Sound Seekers, a charity who help deaf children in the developing world.