Steam bending is a traditional process steeped in history. It was once a vital practice, paramount to the production of weapons, tools and water vessels but sadly, with the advance of technology the practice has become less common. Steam bending is also a low energy and ecological method of manipulating wood with no nasty glues and very low levels of wastage. With time and a lot of practice Tom Raffield has developed his own way of using steam. The new tools and methods Tom has developed mean he can twist and bend wood to create shapes as freely as you use a pencil for drawing. Traditional steam bending sees wood placed in a chamber of steam and then removed into the air to be bent- but this method didn’t allow Tom the time to create the complex shapes he wanted. He developed a new technique using a steam filled bag on localised sections of the wood, enabling him to create bends in the wood whilst it is still being subjecting to the bending effects of the steam. A jig system with clamps and composite straps is used to actually bend the wood, creating a space to do so within a series of scaffolding bars and thus removing the confines of shaping on a bench. Tom Raffield's fascination with the traditional practice of steam bending began whilst studying at Falmouth College of Arts. Tom was co-founder of the award-winning collective design company Sixixis. Through his own company, Tom continues to create furniture and lighting, handcrafted in his studios in Cornwall, England.
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