Meet husband and wife Alan and Julie McIntosh, who have recently opened their working studios to the public at Mill of Hirn near Banchory…
Wood and Wool make a range of gorgeous interior pieces that would grace any home. Alan makes bespoke furniture which combines fabulous quality with robust design, unusual accents and brings out the beauty of the wood. Multi-talented Julie concentrates on designing and making unique finishing touches, whether it’s soft furnishings, ceramics or paintings.
Julie explained how Wood and Wool came into being, ‘We both enjoy creating things for our home. Having been quietly pursuing this as a hobby for a couple of years and acquiring a large range of machinery along the way, we decided that maybe people might want to buy something they can’t get in any shop.
‘Wood and Wool allows us to showcase our ideas and share them with other people. There’s always something new to see whenever you visit. We want to be a small enterprise, making everything by ourselves. It’s never going to be about projecting sales figures and turnover, that’s for sure!’
Alan’s furniture making takes inspiration from the individual qualities of his material. ‘I’ve always loved really old trees with lots of character. Each part of the same tree can be so different in character. When you first cut it and see all the grain and you know you are the first to ever see it. It’s always a great moment at the start of a new project.
‘My Dad was a fantastic carver, turner and furniture maker, so he influenced me enormously. Some of the things he has made are truly breathtaking. He never sold anything just gave it to friends and family. So really what I am saying is this is all his fault!
‘The wood helps me decide what I’m going to make. I try to save the most diseased parts of a tree which can give really special features I love so much. Once the wood is kiln-dried, I get an image in my head that various combinations of wood, steel, glass, maybe stone will work together. I let it evolve naturally. I love making tables, mirrors, lamp bases, clocks, and coat hooks. Whatever I make, there will never be another exactly the same.’
Julie’s passion is to create beautiful things. She continued, ‘I use a variety of mediums allowing me the opportunity to explore a wide range of techniques. What inspires me? The colours and materials I use take me on a journey.
I might have a rough idea to start with, but I enjoy the freedom to change my mind. I am always learning. It’s exciting to explore the endless possibilities the digital world can offer, combining old with new techniques is fascinating!
‘For us, the saying ‘Two heads are better than one’, is quite often true. We bounce ideas off each other. We have very similar tastes which obviously helps. We both take commissions and can make pieces to suit individual requirements and taste.
‘At the Mill Studio we have a small gallery where you can view samples of our work and also purchase. You may see a design or an idea that you like but it may not be the correct size or colourway – we can adapt this to suit the customer’s own home.’
The Mill Studio, Mill of Hirn, Banchory, AB31 5QS
Open: Thur, Fri & Sun 1 – 4pm or by appointment