Meet the maker: Danielle Flowers

Danielle Flowers spalted beech bowls

From a little converted shed in rural Ludlow, with her spaniel pup Ash for company, woodturner Danielle Flowers carves out her modern take on a traditional craft.

The 24-year-old works by hand to transform decaying felled beech trees from the National Trust's Wenlock Edge woodland, in Shropshire, into decorative spalted bowls. Created for the National Trust, her bespoke and distinctive collection is available both in our shops and online. We spoke to Danielle to discover how she fell in love with the art of woodturning.

Woodturner Danielle Flowers with her spaniel Ash

How did you get into woodturning?

It’s a traditional process and an unusual craft for someone of my generation, but from the first time I tried it, I fell in love with it. I had one technical woodturning lesson in my second year at Cardiff School of Art and Design, but from then on everything else has been self-taught with some help from online videos. The process of woodturning is very therapeutic and rhythmic. I like the geometric and symmetrical forms that it creates.

Spalted beech bowls handcrafted by Danielle Flowers

Where does the wood come from for your bowls?

I get the timber directly from Wenlock Edge in Shropshire and transport it the short distance to our little converted shed in Ludlow. The beech trees are felled as part of a sustainable woodland management programme. I work with spalted wood, which is quite particular to the beech trees in the area. After three years, fungi develop in the timber and it creates these gorgeous, individual and distinctive patterns. You have to catch the wood at the right stage, so that it doesn’t decay past this first stage and start turning into cork.

Danielle Flowers handcrafts spalted beech bowls

How do you turn felled trees into beautiful bowls?

It’s quite hard work. After we have collected the felled wood, we mill and process the raw timber and then dry it out so the pattern you see does not change. After this we process the timber into turning blanks before putting it on a lathe (machine that rotates the wood). I personally hand form and cut the timber as it spins into the shape that the bowls are transformed into. It takes around two or three hours for larger pieces and I’d say I’ve made a few hundred bowls so far.

Woodland path at Wenlock Edge

What inspires your work?

It sounds cheesy, but it’s my family that inspires my work. I’ve always lived in Shropshire and growing up my grandparents would take me on walks in the local area. They taught me everything I know about native trees, wildlife and the British countryside. The style of my bowls is inspired by mid-century modern design, which has organic clean lines and is very minimal. It shows off the beauty of the natural wood.

Spalted beech bowl collection, handcrafted by Danielle Flowers

How did you get involved with the National Trust?

I’ve always loved the National Trust and I’m a frequent visitor to the beautiful walks at Carding Mill Valley. I supported a public arts project there called Heartland a couple of years ago. A year after that, I was showcasing my products at a Bristol arts event and the National Trust approached me. The collection developed from there.