John Mitchell was born in Deal, Kent in 1948. His varied career focused for a long time in the marine industry where he took up boat building before going on to become a successful yacht designer. Sixteen years ago John made a career change into IT and became a self taught computer analyst and developer.
In 1990 John took up wood turning as a hobby and a means of stress relief spending many a winters evenings turning in his garden workshop. Once hooked, he received tuition from Tobias Kaye and the late Jim Goul who helped him out of bad turning habits. In 2001, with disillusionment of life amongst other things and wanting to create wood turnings and sculptures unhindered by neighbours, John and his wife decided to sell up and move to France.
Having read the book "A year in Provence" and its enlightenment into the back ground of life in France and yes it is similar where John now lives, undeterred and with perseverance he made a home for them selves over a period of a year and a half. He then set about making a temporary workshop by converting a pig sty, this is also the type of building where some very well known turners started out and some still continue their businesses from.
He started turning again in 2006 and registered his business " l' âme du bois ", (The soul of wood). With an abundance of sawmills in close proximity he is spoilt for choice although Oak, Chestnut and Walnut are the predominant woods available to him.
Other forms of income in their new environment are to set up a wood turning school, teaching will be on a one to one basis and will be able to offer Gite accommodation in order to make a family holiday. John's wife Egje continues to teach Yoga and is a Shiatsu practitioner.
At the end of May 2003, John attended the AFTAB seminar at Puy St Martin in the foothills of the Drôme valley; afterwards he had several days tuition from the world renown David Ellsworth of Pennsylvania to learn more about hollow forms. More recently John was fortunate to have tuition from Nick Agar of Devon on texturing, colouring and other enhancements for his turnings. see Links
Turners come from all walks of life. A few have formal training in art, design or have learnt from conference demonstrations and sometimes apprenticeships, many more are self-taught like John, but John coming from one of the most unusual back grounds of all and has applied his knowledge and likeness of flowing curves from his 16 years of yacht designing into his wood turning creations.