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Meet thy Maker No. 1 : Jennifer Finnigan

It’s a constant source of pride here at The English Listed to have discovered and represent some really fabulous designer makers, small batch producers and artists.  To that end, we’re delighted to introduce a new series for our blog, Meet thy Maker, which we hope will make for reading as ‘heavenly’ as it sounds!  We’d like to introduce you in more detail to some of the artists we represent, find out more about their work, their inspirations and their lifestyles.

First up to the podium is Jennifer Finnigan, renowned Cardiff based hardwood furniture and homewares designer-maker.


Can you tell us a little about your what you do?

I specialise in the techinique of wire inlay, particularly following the grain of the wood used so every piece is unique.

Describe your work in 5 words?
Intricate, unique, modernist, wood, inlay

What took you on the road to doing what you are doing today?
I graduated in a degree of very general making and found it difficult to specialise in my final year. And so, I looked through all of my past work, and wood and wire were two materials that kept popping up so I decided to put them together.

What is a typical day for you?
Usually either a lot of inlaying or a lot of sanding!

Where is your workshop and what is the view out of your window?
I am based in the small but lovely city of Cardiff and can see the River Taff surrounded by trees (usually with a squirrel or two) from my window. I currently work in a communal workshop with makers from a variety of disciplines which I really enjoy.

What are the tools of your trade?
As well as traditional wood working tools, more particular tools I use to inlay are rollers to flatten the wire, a v chisel to make the initial groove and then a diamond tipped rotary tool to deepen. I then hammer the wire in and sand down.

Why do you love what you do?
I love the freedom to pursue my own ideas and the community I have developed of other designer-makers.

What is the best advice you have received?
To not stress and rush things. This applies to both making and starting your own business in general. That it is okay to take time reaching your goals, that it is just as important to enjoy the time spent pursuing those goals as it is fulfilling them altogether.

One moment in your career you will always remember?
Probably my first exhibition. It was the first time I had really seen people’s immediate reaction to my work and it was great to witness. I found it really interesting how almost everyone wanted to touch the inlay as if they didn’t believe it was real.

What is the best part of your job?
The freedom.

And the worst?
Same answer. Freedom to work when and how I choose can also be a negative. Self reliance is often very difficult to deal with.

What’s your proudest career achievement?
Most likely winning a Young Furniture Maker’s award last year in their bespoke category. They have kindly invited me back again this year to participate in their annual exhibition on October 10th.

What are you working on at the moment?
Christmas! The most important time of year for anyone in the industry. This is where I focus more on my smaller homeware and gift items instead of large furniture pieces.

Thanks very much, Jennifer.  We’re delighted to have one of Jennifer’s beautiful pieces, an inlaid metal elm bench, on display in our shop at the moment.  Do pop by and have a look!