Hi­lary’s gift for fine wood­craft

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - KINSALE - Ma­jella Flynn Hi­lary Hale WOODTURNER

A de­ci­sion 25 years ago to cre­ate a lamp for the top of a pi­ano set Hi­lary Hale on a path that was to see wood­turn­ing hap­pily dom­i­nate her life.

“I en­joyed mak­ing that lamp so much that I just kept go­ing, and now wood­turn­ing is my busi­ness,” says Hi­lary. “I taught my­self how to wood­turn and took sev­eral short cour­ses and sem­i­nars along the way.”

The busi­ness and life­style that de­vel­oped from that first en­counter with wood­turn­ing mean that Hi­lary can be found cov­ered in shav­ings next to a spin­ning piece of wood in the studio of her house in Sum­mer­cove near Kin­sale. That’s if she’s not out trav­el­ling near and far col­lect­ing storm- felled trees or meet­ing cus­tomers at craft fairs up and down the coun­try.

She usu­ally works with lo­cally grown, storm-felled tim­ber. “All the tim­ber I use has met its fate be­fore I get to it; I’d never cut down a tree for my work. I get the tim­ber from all sorts of sources — from build­ing sites, es­tates where trees have fallen.”

She works with a va­ri­ety of tim­bers. It could be ash, oak, robinia, beech, yew, ap­ple, or elm, and turn­ing this raw ma­te­rial into beau­ti­fully fin­ished pieces is a long process.

Hi­lary says: “I first turn bowls into rough shapes and leave them to air dry for any­thing up to two years. I then re­turn the pieces to the lathe for re­fine­ment and fin­ish­ing.”

She pro­duces a va­ri­ety of hand-crafted pieces rang­ing from keyrings, cord pulls, cut­lery, and bot­tle stop­pers to dra­mat i c state­ment pieces like her hol­low ves­sels and mas­sive bowls.

Hi­lary’s pieces can be seen at her gallery in Rin­cur­ran Hall, Sum­mer­cove.

This very pleas­ant spot on the spec­tac­u­lar stretch be­tween Kin­sale town and Charles Fort is par­tic­u­larly busy dur­ing the sum­mer months when tourists and lo­cal vis­i­tors drop into the gallery to ad­mire and to pur­chase her work — and to see first­hand how the work is cre­ated.

She also ex­hibits in Cork at the Lewis Glucks­man Gallery Shop on the grounds of Univer­sity Col­lege Cork and at The Lavit Gallery on Fr Mathew St.

Hi­lary says there is a sup­port­ive com­mu­nity of artists and crafts­peo­ple in Kin­sale. She has made some of her pieces out of ma­te­ri­als pro­vided by other lo­cal artists, and if she thinks that a piece re­quested by a cus­tomer would be bet­ter cre­ated in a medium other than wood, she would re­fer that per­son to other artists and crafts­peo­ple in the area.

That col­lab­o­ra­tive spirit among the Kin­sale artis­tic com­mu­nity will be in ev­i­dence also in Novem­ber.

“We’re run­ning an ex­hi­bi­tion for Kin­sale Lifeboat at my house in Rin­cur­ran Hall. My work and that of a few other, mostly lo­cal artists will be on sale in sup­port of the work of the lifeboat,” says Hi­lary.

Hi­lary’s gallery is open from 11am to 5pm most days, but ring first in case she’s out col­lect­ing a tree.

Her work can be seen on her web­site.

Hi­lary Hale with a se­lec­tion of wood-turned bowls, lamps, and cheese­boards. Pic­ture: Larry Cum­mins

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