Launch of the BBC Scotland Loggerheads | HeraldScotland
It’s a bit of a step up from wooden pencil cases or high school spice racks.
A new TV show is giving furniture makers just 24 hours to create something spectacular from freshly cut timber in some of Scotland’s most glorious woodland locations.
The judges said they were blown away by the imaginative creations, which include a boat-inspired picnic table and a tranquil forest daybed that will be used by recovering drug addicts who are involved in a project of rewilding.
The John Muir Trust, which runs the project, says the benefits of working in nature are already translating into positive outcomes for those involved.
According to the charity, there was a 40% reduction in relapses.
Freshly felled timber is said to be notoriously difficult to work with and
teams of three brave whatever the Scottish weather can throw at them, from the scorching sun in the Borders and howling winds on the north coast to torrential rains on the Inner Hebrides.
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All wood used in the lounge is cut sustainably as part of forest management plans.
Farmer-turned-comedian-turned-presenter Jim Smith said it was fascinating to watch the transformations in the race against time.
“It’s exactly what you see on the show,” he said. “They chop down the tree and 24 hours later they have these wonderful masterpieces.
“All I can do is make gates and fences for the sheep, but these guys…it’s not just
your second year of crafts and design is this? It was amazing to see it all come together.
“The locations are beautiful, I’m a country boy and love getting out and seeing different parts of Scotland.
“And at the end of the day, whichever team wins, the region has two great projects that will benefit visitors and the local community.
“It’s been going well in the back of Covid because people have started new hobbies, so hopefully that will inspire people to try because the wood is quite forgiving. You can make anything from a dollhouse to a garden bench.
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One episode will feature competitive chainsaw carver Alice Buttress, a septuagenarian who lives in Carrbridge in the Highlands.
“She’s an inspiration,” said Mr Smith, who owns a beef farm near Dunkeld, Perthshire, and is married with a toddler and another baby on the way.
“She had five or six different chainsaws and just worked. Every time I came back to see her, there was an owl or a squirrel. She is fantastic.
“The whole team had different skills, it’s kind of like The Avengers.”
First on Loggerheads is furniture maker Linzi St Clair Thompson, who has worked on everything from antique restorations and bespoke furniture commissions to a video set for pop star Harry Styles.
Together with her two teammates, the 33-year-old aims to create a place of relaxation for the forest rewilding group at Glenlude Forest in the Borders.
His adversaries, the team of Vicente Ridaura-Harvey, of Mexican origin, want to build a forestry workshop.
Originally from Edinburgh, Ms Thompson now lives on a farm in Perthshire, where she makes contemporary furniture and wooden home accessories using native wood.
“It was a fantastic experience,” she said of the show. “I feel so lucky to have visited six fantastic locations all over Scotland and with like-minded people.
“Anything we felled was either to clear the forest to make room for native trees or for health and safety reasons. It was really nice to leave something behind for the community to enjoy.
“Working at Scone was quite special because I’m from Perthshire so it felt like home.”
When she’s not making bespoke furniture, she helps build sets for theater and television and has worked on videos for The Proclaimers, Men In Kilts and Harry Styles.
“He was so kind and so patient with the Scottish weather,” she said. “We were filming the Adore You music video at St Anne’s, so it wasn’t always the best conditions.
“I’m always looking for something new to do and it’s something different every time.”
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The judges praised the intricate carved lettering in the beautiful daybed her team created in the first episode.
She said: “They have a brilliant replanting program and we wanted to create a really relaxing space where people were just reminded to breathe, relax and enjoy nature.
“The mental health benefits of being in a forest and bathing in the forest are really significant – especially now with an ongoing mental health crisis.”
l Loggerheads, which was produced by Mighty Productions Scotland, will start on BBC Scotland on Thursday at 8.30pm.