Chamonix. Have you ever visitied Chamonix? I did, last week, for the very first time. But there were no blue skies or diamond bright ski slopes sitting prettily at the foot of the French side of the Alps – this Chamonix is a pretty cottage nestled down a quiet green lane bang in the centre of our island, and there was nothing but rain, lots of rain! Who needs glistening ski slopes….
Meet Mark Bredonchel. Mechanic by day, woodturner by night, Mark caught my interest over in the land of Facebook when I noticed that he was offering to recycle Christmas trees on the island. Being the enquisitive (nosey!) creature that I am, I just had to find out more.
This is the third year that Mark has collected christmas trees, and he’s not in competition with the ever popular Hospice tree collection scheme – if you want to donate to Hospice you still can, it’s just that he gets your tree to recycle and reuse instead of it being collected and taken to the green waste site at La Colette.
Whilst last year was a good year where Mark collected 72 trees, this year it was even better with 117! That’s 117 christmas trees being utilised further, rather going straight into the composting process. Mark strips all the branches from the trees, and delivers these on to a friendly neighbour, who recycles them further into wood chips. The resulting tree trunk is cut into logs, which are then ready for Mark to use for woodturning.
Mark’s workspace is very much like our glass art studio, a bit cluttered and not much space, but at least he’s in his and actually working – we haven’t produced anything in years. He talked us through setting up the lathe, the tools that he uses to remove the outer layers of the log, the finer tools for details, the stitched pads for beeswax application and the loose cotton pad for buffing and polishing.
The end products, made from the Christmas tree wood, are just devine. (I do know that it’s real name is pine, just christmas tree wood sounds much more exciting). The wood is exceptionally light, and the colour and detailing in the grain are so very beautiful. Not to mention ingenious to use the wood from Christmas trees to make Christmas related gifts. I fell in love with this collection of snowmen, just look at them!
The Christmas cracker tea light holder would look smart on any Christmas table. The beauty of the wood is shown off to perfection under Mark’s skill and workmanship.
Of course, its not just Christmas related items that are made with the recycled wood, but a variety of other beautifully crafted items too.
From oak to ash, cherry to utile, yew to pine, Mark has a great selection of handcrafted goods. If you are looking for that special item for your home or to gift, you are bound to find something – and an ethical choice to boot – repurposed christmas tree, its branches recycled into wood chip, crafted into a beautiful gift and ultimately recyclable at the end of its life cycle (compostable or fire fodder) – that really is a win – something rare in commercial gifts nowadays! You can follow Mark on his facebook page – Chamonix Craft.
Another lovely surprise whilst meeting Mark was also the chance to meet his just-as-talented wife Sadie. I should have known this was a house of crafters , just by looking at at the front step and garden, where pots and platters and wood vyed for attention amongst the pot plants. Sadie has been potting with the talented David Brown, formerly of Jersey Pottery fame (now a lecturer at Highlands) for ten years. I also did pottery with David some 22 years ago, until I just got too huge when I was carrying my son! Not that I ever created such beautiful pieces. Sadie’s hand crafted pieces feel as though they have grown organically from the earth itself to settle into their garden.
Being a keen gardener and grower I am always delighted to take a look at other people’s gardens. My heart skips a beat when I see little pockets of interest, some veg growing here, a sculpture there, etc – so imagine my joy to wander through their garden, where Mark has handcrafted a growing bed out of reclaimed wood, where their Brussels sprouts here shown no sign of shortages, where Sadie’s pots and platters nestle in every corner of the garden, wherever you turn another pots seems to have grown there. I fell in love with the natural, organic feel to it all.
Even their chickens have had the pottery treatment! Chickens! When I get my forever home chickens are high on my wish list.
My favorite piece was this stunning hand-crafted bowl – with shells suspended in especially made holes in its side. The photo doesn’t do it justice, it is a large, commanding piece with beautiful colors.
Even in their kitchen the pottery seems to have grown organically. This beautiful fungi inspired set of large pots are perfect, home-made, natural storage jars for food basics such as bread and pulses. I absolutely love these and could so see them quite happily living in my kitchen.
Thank you to both Mark and Sadie (and their adorable dogs Scampi and Buster!) for taking time out of your day to give a glimpse of your life and your crafts, and giving us such a warm welcome. It was lovely getting to know you.
If, unlike me, you are actually buying gifts this year and would like to purchase some of Mark and Sadie’s hand crafted zero-waste/recycled/upcycled woodturning or pottery gifts (at an exceptionally good value price) please pop to their dedicated display area at La Rue des Servais, Sion or call Mark on 07797 796689.
Now I really must get my glass art studio cleared of clutter so I can get creative.
Have a lovely week……..