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Archive for the ‘Staff’ Category

New Maker; Bradley

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

BradleyWe are pleased to introduce to the newest member of our team, Bradley Rowland. Brad served his apprenticeship at another furniture making company in North Dorset but, as the boyfriend of our landlord’s daughter, he was keen to find work closer to home – well you can’t get much closer than across the farmyard!!

In fact there is very little reason for Brad to ever leave the farm, with girlfriend, job, home and hobby in one neat package! Brad is a keen motocross biker and spends much of his spare time at Rogers Hill Raceway just up the hill from the workshop. We are always relieved to see Brad in one piece on Monday morning as he is developing into a talented maker and has been a welcome addition to our team.

We are very proud of our support of emerging furniture making talent, some of whom we have introduced to you before. Click here to read about ‘New’ Mike and Tom…

Different Roads; Same Destination…

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Mike CD Tom Cornick
We have been privileged to welcome two new members to the team at Simon Thomas Pirie Ltd over the last year. Tom Cornick (left) and Mike Clifton-Dey are both keen on their cars but just as they have chosen very different sets of wheels for their daily commute, they have taken different routes to get here.

Tom came to us for a short period of work experience while studying for an A level in Design. He and Simon hit it off immediately and once Tom returned to school, he stayed in touch regularly to pick Simon’s brains for advice on the completion of his final project; not surprisingly a cabinet. Simon was impressed with Tom’s dedication, tenacity and not insubstantial talent and suggested that he might consider an apprenticeship here at Simon Thomas Pirie Ltd.

Tom C Final Cabinet Photo 1Corn Cab
The cabinet Tom designed and made for his A Level (left) next to the piece that inspired it designed by Simon

For Tom, meeting Simon and seeing the workshop opened his eyes to the possibility of following in his both his grandfathers’ footsteps; one having been a joiner and the other a carpenter. The opportunity to complete an apprenticeship working with our talented team of designers and makers felt like a natural progression and he embraced it enthusiastically. Tom and workshop manager, John, worked together with training provider, DIDAC to formulate an apprenticeship plan and consequently Tom has been working with us since September. His DIDAC tutor comes into the workshop for a day every 2 to 4 weeks to work on specific making skills and the supporting written assessments and it has been a joy to watch Tom applying the skills he has learnt to the tasks he is set in our now bustling workshop.

‘New’ Mike (so called because of Mike Smith, our longest serving employee and senior maker) has been known to us for some time as the son of our upholsterer Robin Clifton-Dey. Mike has already completed an apprenticeship but in a very different environment as an engineer for Rolls-Royce Aeronautical. He has also completed a furniture-making course at theIMG_13111-150x150 Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy (right) and was looking for an opportunity to further his knowledge and improve his skills. He joined us in March as our order book became frantic following the development of our outdoor garden furniture range in collaboration with Sitting Spiritually. His engineering and upholstery background has already been put to good use what with processes such as steam-bending components for Floating Benches and covering acoustic panels for TV walls becoming an increasing part of what we do. We look forward to ‘New’ Mike sticking around long enough to become a misnomer!

It gives us great pleasure to find young, enthusiastic makers who really understand what we are trying to achieve and when we do we believe it is our duty to foster and encourage them to make the very best of their individual skills and diverse characteristics. As many teachers and trainers will testify, the best learning is achieved when a problem is solved collaboratively. This has proved to be true for our new recruits who work exceptionally well together when interpreting drawings and approaching challenging tasks, supporting each other to reach a sensible solution: all under the watchful eye of John and ‘Old’ Mike, of course!

So as our workshop team continues to grow, whichever road they took to get to us, and however they choose to travel, whether in a van, a family car, a sporty hatchback, a vintage roadster or even a bike, we are all heading for the same destination…

Tom & Mike FB
Tom and Mike working together on one of the Floating Benches for Sitting Spiritually

The Apprentice – Who Made This?

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

We are always on the look out for the next exceptional apprentice, and in Tom we may have found him. Tom is currently still at school doing his A levels, and as part of his Product Design coursework he decided to make a display cabinet, loosely based on one of ours.


Display cabinets, one by us, one by Tom Cornick our next apprentice.

Seeing as he’s only ever made a simple coffee table before this was a really complex piece to take on – both in terms of designing and making. Tom will be starting with us in September on the Didac Apprenticeship scheme, where the formal training happens in the workshop one day a week and the rest of the time he’s working with us and / or on his own projects.

It’s also time for us to say goodbye to our previous junior cabinet maker Dale Jones who is moving on to pastures new. He’s been with us for just over a year and we wish him well in his new employment.

Around the Workshop – The New Year

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Blimey, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! The past 4 months i’ve been talking about little else than the English walnut kitchen that we have just completed near Bath. That’s partly because it was a truly amazing job and partly because we have done or seen little else!

January is never a month to set the world alight and generally it’s a time of year when we make speculative projects, tidy the place up and sort out loose ends. I’m also designing projects and trying to muster up new work. Lots of what we do now has a bearing on the rest of the year. The two things going on in the workshop right now; well we are making a dressing table, a speculative piece aimed very much at trying to get magazine coverage. It’s a ‘pretty’ piece looking to wow a female audience who read those magazines and to a large degree write and edit them. It’s an idea that came out of a discussion with our PR team, in effect they are being our client on this. A very different way of approaching a project!

It is also the female counterpart to the desk we made last year. It shares some of its look with that piece, but that was very male, square and dark – in English walnut. The dressing table is softer, more curvy and in a light bleached ash. I’m still playing around with mirror shape right now. It is a really exciting shape though, looking forward to getting it finished.

Our other thing running through at the moment are the first of the ‘Floating Benches’ bound for Liberty’s in London. We are making a small batch to see how they go in store (from March onwards). This is our first serious adventure into retail, it’s all new and exciting at this stage. We won’t make our fortune, the margins are tight, but it is a great opportunity nevertheless.

So we have been getting the steamer up and running again, as well as gas touch to do oak scorching (both very good things to be doing on a cold January day). We have got these processes down to a fine art now following the Tudor Arcade project where this design theme originated. Click here to watch the Scorch and Steam Video to see how we made Tudor Arcade, we use exactly the same techniques on the ‘Floating Bench’. It is funny looking at that video now, we make it look like really hard work bending the 2 inch oak back rail – turns out the steam pipe was partly blocked so it was much harder than normal. Typical it happens on the day with the film crew in!

This time it all went much more smoothly with a lot less grunting and sweating. It’s a really elegant process (when it goes right) and you’d be surprised just how easy it is to bend a piece of oak 6 inches wide and 2 inches thick.

We have also been playing with our routed logo again. Our counterparts Cameron and Talbot have a small CNC set up ideal for doing intricate work, including lettering which looks really effective in the blackened oak. On Tudor Arcade it was on the outside of the rails, on our garden benches for Liberty it will be also there, but subtley hidden on the inside of the rail. I really like the fact these benches use both modern technology in the form of the CNC’d logo, but also the age old art of steam bending.

Apart from that I’m designing dining tables, side tables, cabinets, a quarter round tray and talking to a number of clients about much larger projects for 2013-14. The quiet start to 2013 won’t last long!

We are in the build up to a couple of shows – Millinery Works ’21st Century Furniture IV’ in Islington is approaching fast in February, then we have open workshops during Purbeck Art Weeks in May and the Dorset Art Fair in June. More details on all these events can be found by clicking here.

Our other news is that sadly our apprentice, Connor Clark-Short is no longer with us. Connor started with us back in August but has had to relocate further West for personal reasons. We wish him the very best. We will be looking for a new apprentice cabinet maker again soon.