T.A.G. (aka Tom) Smith’s first foray into woodworking was a basic rough box, formed with the help of his father from an old bookshelf, when he was a mere 10-year-old. Instantly enamored, he purchased tools and machines in the coming years to delve deeper into the artform. He acquired his first scroll saw at age 14 and, after consulting a variety of books, taught himself intarsia, a form of wood inlaying dating back to the seventh century A.D. Smith reveled in the newfound passion, harnessing nature’s range of wood colors, grains, and unique characteristics to shape forms that, when puzzle-pieced together, created mosaic-like works of art alive with dimensionality.
As he honed his craft in a makeshift woodshop in his parents’ attic, Smith began designing his own creations, his lifelong passion for birds giving flight to his greatest artistic muse. Employing native UK timber species like sycamore and oak—as well as exotics like wenge an padauk—Smith reimagined unique representations of birds from around the world—and their respective feathery wardrobes—in what soon became sought after hanging sculptures.
As demand for his work blossomed, he outgrew both his space and the set of basic tools that had fueled his childhood explorations. So, Smith outfitted a new workshop in an old textiles factory in Gotham, a small village just outside Nottingham, where he can still be found today.
Smith’s work has been featured in We Are Makers, The Woodworker, The Art of Design, World of Falconry, and Craft & Design. While commissions comprise much of his work, he also exhibits his creations around the UK during the summer and here, for elk & HAMMER.