Sophie Sellu is founder of sustainable home brand, Grain and Knot.
Grain and knot was born from a love of nature, exploration and the need for purpose in creation. Beautifully tactile, fully functional wooden objects for the kitchen and home, each item is made from reclaimed, storm fallen or sustainably sourced timber. The wooden goods at Grain & Knot are lovingly hand-crafted by Sophie in her home studio.
We sat down to talk with Sophie about her journey, sustainability, her creative process and relationship with nature.
Your story is very interesting. Can you tell our community how the ‘Grain & Knot’ journey began and how you discovered the passion for wood carvings?
I started carving as a way to get away from my computer screen, an unfulfilling job, and as a therapeutic creative act. After two redundancies in a short space of time I decided to explore my creativity.
I was taught basic woodworking skills as a child at school, and really loved the process of making. After attending lots of different creative workshops, I found myself at a spoon carving workshop, in the woods and I was instantly hooked. I loved the process of making something useful, and being surrounded by nature. I took the time to learn, develop my skills and hone my process before launching Grain & Knot around eight years ago.
Over the years my style has grown and developed in a really organic way - and I am so happy to still be learning and adapting along the way.
We commend that each item is unique and handmade in your home studio from reclaimed and sustainably sourced timber - where do you source the wood?
I visit various timber reclamation yards, and often get given pieces of timber from renovation projects to turn into items. My uncle works on renovations of period properties in London, and I have managed to save lots of timber from some of these projects that would otherwise go to waste - and give them a new life.
More recently, I have access to a family run woodland in Kent where I spend a lot of time. I only use trees that have to be taken down due to storm damage, disease, or because they are a danger to the public or neighbouring property.
How does your creative process flow - from sketch to the finished piece?
I am always working on lots of pieces at a time, so my process is rather disjointed. In essence each piece is sketched, refined and adapted to fit a suitable piece of timber using paper templates and cut outs.
The timber selection for each piece is one of the things I struggle with most! Once I've found the perfect pairing, the object is cut out using a bandsaw then carved by hand until I am happy with the end result, slowly chipping away with my carving knife. If I am making a brush I then add the natural fibre bristles, and finish the timber to protect it in use.
Tell us more about your relationship with nature
I am in nature everyday - I have a deep rooted connection just with the materials I use, so I am constantly learning and exploring. The seasonal changes in particular always fascinate me. I spend a lot of time in woodlands in Kent where my materials are sourced and I adore my time spent there. I use it as a place to process my ideas without any distractions and always look to nature for inspiration for my pieces. I try not to overcomplicate my designs and let the beauty of the natural material speak for itself.
I have a few simple questions. You can reply with just a word or a couple of words.
If I say blue, what comes to your mind?
Sea, Sky and a sense of calm