Sheffield Craftsman Paul Hilton-Tapp
It’s time for our latest “Fellow Sheffield Creatives” feature, and this time it’s Sheffield Craftsman Paul Hilton-Tapp (Selftapped) and his wonderfully tactile wooden creations.
Volta: Who or what inspired you to do what you do?
Paul: Craftsmen throughout history, but I suppose for my wood turning it has to be Jeff the workshop technician from college who let me have my first go on a wood lathe during his lunch break about 25yrs ago.
Volta: Were you self-taught or have you had formal training?
Paul: I’m a self taught woodturner but I’ve always had a passion for making and drawing. We were very lucky in the 80’s to have been able to take three arts subjects for GCSE, as I was never going to be the academic that the education system seems to push for these days. After leaving King Ecgbert School I went on to complete a BTEC in 3D Design at the old Parkwood College and then a Degree in Furniture at Loughborough College of Art and Design (which was a brilliant course that encouraged us to think and experiment with ways of making). They didn’t teach any traditional wood working skills, we just had to use our imagination and create.
Volta: What did you do before you did what you do now?
Paul: I worked at Sheffield Theatres through the 90s building the stage sets in the Crucible workshops by day and on the stage crew working the shows in the Lyceum by night. I later went on to tour with a few shows as Production Carpenter and Assistant Stage Manager. After the millennium I fancied a change and got a CAD job near York, designing exhibition sets, but sitting behind a computer all day really didn’t suit me as I wanted to make or build. Another life change led me to move back to Sheffield and join the established family business at Charisma Blinds. I bought my own house and built a small workshop in the garage. It was too small to make large furniture so I got myself a lathe off eBay and have been addicted to woodturning ever since.
Volta: How did your current style develop and how do you see it developing in the future?
Paul: Practice. I turn something almost every day which helps me understand which tools are best for each situation. Sometimes a piece breaks or just ends up the wrong shape, but every fail is a learning curve so I move on to the next job. The wood itself can also govern the shape of the finished piece. It’s the best feeling when a piece is finished, I stand it upright and it has a nice flowing shape. Future developments will come through learning as I go and trying new ideas.
Volta: What influence has living in Sheffield had on your creativity and how you approach your work?
Paul: I was born here so everything about Sheffield has influenced my life, but I suppose it’s our amazing location being so close to the city and the countryside that inspires my work. A walk along our rivers and through the trees or amongst the old workshops in town, imagining how they were once used to establish such an important industrial heritage.
Volta: Volta: How would you describe what you do?
Paul: I make turned “objects” using reclaimed wood from fallen trees or old furniture. Making the most of the natural features of each piece of wood, I like to think that I give things a new life, in a new form.
Volta: Can you remember the first piece of work you ever sold?
Paul: 2 natural edged, rough sawn benches made from English Oak which were part of my degree show at Loughborough.
Volta: What piece of your own work gives you the most satisfaction and why?
Paul: A king size oak bed I made years ago gives me satisfaction because I sleep in it! It used to be a nine foot tall four poster, but the intended buyer let me down, so I chopped the posts down to fit in my house and use it myself.
Volta: If you could lay claim to one piece of creative work in any area what would it be and why?
Paul: Hogarths Beer Street and Gin Lane prints, amazing detail.
Volta: What is your favourite thing about Sheffield?
Paul: Many favourite things but one that many disagree with me is, although Sheffield itself is large I actually like that the city centre is small. Although it is a bit too quiet these days. I wish it still had the atmosphere I remember from being a teen!
Sheffield Craftsman Paul Hilton-Tapp (Selftapped)
Want to find out a little more about Sheffield Craftsman Paul Hilton-Tapp and his wonderful work?
Here are links to Paul’s social media – enjoy, enquire, buy!
View our previous Fellow Sheffield Creatives