Friday, 2 August 2013

Interview | Ej Osborne, Hatchet & Bear

Hatchet & Bear products are a collection of hand-crafted utensils, bowls and objects for everyday use around the home, as well as being designed to assist you on all of your adventures into the wilderness, whether they be woodland wanderings, sea-faring voyages or mountain climbs. These wonderful and practical, hand-crafted products are made in the UK by Ej Osborne, and are made to order, using simple tools and traditional methods. 

As ever we were keen to delve deeper and find out a little bit more about the materials and processes used to create such wonderful hand-crafted products, as well as getting to know a little bit more about Ej and Hatchet & Bear as a company.

An Interview With Ej Osbourne

Who are you and what is your role in the company?
My Name is Ej Osborne - I am a Product Designer, Bowl Turner and Spoon Carver. I also do absolutely everything else at Hatchet&Bear.

When was Hatchet & Bear founded, and by whom?
Hatchet&Bear was founded at the start of 2013 by myself.

What is the first thing you do when you get to work?
I'll have a coffee and look at my list of things to do. Sometimes I'll spend a few minutes rearranging things on the list, depending on how I tired/energetic feel - it's physically demanding work, chopping up big trees in preparation for making bowls and spoons. 

It's likely I'll have another coffee. Then, spend half and hour to an hour doing web stuff: No 1. will be making sure my website is still in one piece. Social media is next - My Blog, Instagram and Twitter are very important - to me personally and in business, so I spend some time with them.

What is a typical day like at H&B?
At the moment, it's very busy. There are orders to start/complete every day. Small batches of products are arranged neatly in every available space and the floor is usually covered with fallen wood shavings from the lathe. I sweep often. If I didn't sweep, the shavings would be about 3ft deep by the evening. 

The evening is about preparing orders for dispatch. Wrapping, labelling, another coffee and rubbing my dusty eyes. I try to go to bed before midnight.

Where did the inspiration come from to create these unique, quality hand-crafted products?
I have always been a maker of things. Before, when I studied Product Design, a large part of it was about computers, CNC machines and Injection moulded plastics for huge batch production. It just made me feel ill. I felt like - this is where we'd arrived at; companies and consumers, churning out and demanding a disgusting amount of soulless and polluting crap. Don't get me wrong, I love technology - but we've been careless, frivolous and un-wise with it. 

Hatchet&Bear products aim to rewind all that - to a time where manufacturing was called making and it wasn't such a burden on the planet. Locally and responsibly sourced materials from managed coppicing woodland and collaborations with other small British companies. Also, I like hanging out in the woods.

What are the tools of your trade?
A pencil, a tape measure, a hand saw, An axe, a straight knife, a crooked knife, several sharpening stones with varying grits, a chopping block, a lathe and a broom.
Could you tell us a bit about the materials, and processes used, to create your products?
I'm very lucky because I'm surrounded by a wonderful selection of hardwood's that do an amazing job of being very beautiful and extremely hard-wearing once made into bowls and utensils. Birch, Walnut, Wild Cherry, Ash and Beech are all available throughout the year. 

It's a seasonal affair - the woodland needs to be managed, the trees get coppiced or felled. I take large parts of the tree and spend time looking at them, shaping them into products that I think they're best suited for. I work with the wood, not against it. It is an holistic approach and it means I can produce products that are exceptionally strong - using the natural grain directions, bends and curves to an advantage.

Is there plans to open a brick and mortar store?
Not at the moment. Although things are getting cramped in here.

Finally what does the future hold for H&B?
I like to keep it real. More of the above, but staying small. I won't go large. I've had offers and I've knocked them back. 

I do know that I'll be running some one and two day courses next spring/summer - where people can come along and learn how to make their own utensils, spoons and bowls. It will be empowering and the end of the day we will all sit down and eat a delicious dinner with the spoons and bowls we have all made.


Thanks Ej, for taking the time out from what seems like really hard work, to sit down and chat to us. Keep up the good work and good luck for the future.ACM


  1. I'd love to take a course like that, pretty much long to do stuff like this

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  3. I saw you on 'Celebrity Money for Nothing' making Copper Pot Lights for Jay Blades. I've followed my mum as a 'make do and mend' and repurpose and customise clothes for family and friends. But, at the ripe old age of 52 and not in good health, you've inspired me to try to do the same with other things around my house. To see everything as a possibility and not just as rubbish. You're right when you say there is just a conveyor belt churning out disposable 'stuff' for people to buy and then chuck. We cannot carry on like that - I have a daughter who I want to inherit a planet and not rubbish heap. You're a wonderful gent to fill this old lady with so much hope. I wish you much success for the future. :)