A JOINER with a love of bringing old wood to life in beautiful furniture designs and craft accessories has expanded his business with the opening of a new shop in a picturesque Dale. Kevin Grant and brother-in-law Michael Breen have opened Green Valley Crafts at the Durham Dales Centre, in Stanhope, Weardale.
Kevin learned his craft from his late grandfather Robert Clark and his passion for turning neglected pieces of wood into beautiful things soon became a thriving business. He set up Green Valley Crafts seven years ago and sold via markets in the North East before he and Michael decided to open the shop at the centre, which is run by Business Durham on behalf of Durham County Council. “My grandfather was always messing on with wood and making things in his workshop,” recalls Kevin, of Crawcrook, Gateshead. “Later, I’d built a summer house in the garden and I turned it into my workshop. I’ve been working from there ever since making all sorts of things, from hand carvings to garden gates and sheds. I tend to say if you can draw it I can probably make it.”
Michael, who has recently retired as a nursing assistant at Prudhoe Hospital in Northumberland, runs the shop while Kevin creates his bespoke items. Hand carved wine boxes for £20, which can be personalised, sit alongside one of their best sellers – a wooden iPhone and iPad stand for £15. Kevin can be fashioning mini shelving in the shape of a boat one minute or making larger items such as tables, kitchen cupboards and sheds. He’s carved big story telling chairs for schools, featuring beautifully polished gnarls and whorls, and traditional, sturdy wooden toy boxes for homes. Around 25 per cent of their business is bespoke and the shop is proving popular with its lovely gifts, from children’s stools to hand carved animals. They buy in some gifts and they’re all Fair Trade.
“I always try to use any off cuts where I can and give the wood a new lease of life,” says Kevin. “The bench outside is made from an 170-year-old piece of Larch I found when I was on my holidays in Scotland. I made a bench out of some of it. I like trying to look at different things to make. I have 101 different things I want to make – it’s just finding the time to do it.”