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Steve still enjoying his craft after 50 years

Avril Marsh

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Steve KimeMarpleCraftsmanWoodCrooksSticks

Steve Kime with some of his collection

There can’t be many houses in the Marple area that haven’t had a window or a wardrobe fitted by joiner Steve Kime, as the locality has kept him in business throughout a fifty year career. Although semi-retired now, he is still in his workshop, enjoying his craft rather than his trade, following his creative instinct rather than a customer’s brief.  

“Fruit woods such as plum, pear and apple cut very nicely on the lathe,” he says, “as do sycamore, laburnum and yew.”  These he turns into decorative and useful bowls, vases and goblets. He also carves model birds, and cutlery, which he uses at every meal. But his greatest interest is making traditional walking sticks and shepherd’s crooks. As a member of the British Stickmakers Guild - he joined in 1984, the year it was founded - he’s been a regular competitor, winner and judge at county and country shows across England and Wales, in both plain and fancy stick classes. Just as the wood needs time to season, the craftsmanship to achieve such quality doesn’t happen in a hurry. “You acquire the patience along with the skill if you are pursuing a high standard,” he says. “When I began I was keenly competitive and tried to produce too many, but I realised they weren’t very good. You have to be in the right frame of mind, take your time and nurture a piece for it to turn out well.”   

Steve is justly proud of a collection of around 160 of his best crooks and sticks. Some have handles carved from horn - ram, buffalo or cattle - shaped over three or four days to bring out the nuances of their natural colouring: others have wooden handles, often depicting birds or animals. Miniature tools work the most intricate aspects, fine detail is added with paint or pyrography. Steve explained  “It takes about a year for a branch to season before you can start work on it. If you try to straighten it while it’s still green, it won't stay straight. Hazel is my favourite, the bark has beautiful mottling and colour variation, and you find different patterns in different locations. Ten years ago all the hazel around here was dark and dull, I only saw the patterns on the west coast of Ireland or deep in rural south Wales. Now there is mottling on all our local hazel, too.  I think that means our air is much cleaner, good news for everyone.” 

Steve Kime’s work can be seen at Lymefield Arts and Crafts Centre, Broadbottom. 

Paul Tavernor Gallery, Poynton, has a selection of his model birds.