Recently I had a coffee with Veridian Pen Studio co-founder Brad Melville (aka hubby) to ask him some questions. To start off I asked Brad why he chose to work with timber. “Wood has a great feel to it and Australia has so many different types of wood with many different grain patterns within, everything I make is different even when it comes from the same tree! Secondly, wood is easy to work with. Timber seems alive and warm to me, while metal and other materials seem dead - I don’t connect with them. Timber has a soul.”
I asked Brad about his earliest wood working experience and his journey into full-time working with wood.
“Growing up my Dad had a shed, where he made unusual musical instruments such as a Hammered Dulcimer, a Bowed Sultry and Gaelic Harp. And though I don’t remember actually seeing my dad work the wood, I remember dad’s pride when he had finished each piece.”
Brad dabbled in woodworking at school, making a simple hand fishing reel, a stool and pencil box with slide out top. About 12 years later when his first child were born, Brad began to create with wood again. He handcrafted a timber swan mobile, a pushcart for his daughter and a wooden toy giraffe on wheels for his best friends son.
Woodwork was put on hold as a Uni degree and then work was allowed to take up all Brad’s time. About 18 years later, a mate Tim invited Brad to his local woodworking club. “That initial visit started a fire in me, a yearning to create. I remember vividly the first pen I ever turned under the careful guidance of a club member named Alan. I was hooked from that first experience. Every bit of spare time I got, I went to the woodworking club.”
Seeing his interest in woodworking, Brad’s wife (aka me), bought him a fine woodworking course with Stuart Bywater Designs where he learnt to make timber items without using electric tools. Through the course Brad made a stunning laminated chopping board - “It made me believe that I could make beautiful things out of wood”. Having burned out in his job, Brad turned to wood shavings for therapy and to find a slower pace. Soon one pen turned into into dozens and dozens and one random day he decided to sell some at the Redcliffe Jetty Markets under the name Lathe and Chisel.
“We had about 20 pens to sell using 6 different timbers and sold art and jewellery too. We couldn’t even remember the names of the timbers on the pens so we made little swing tags. We knew nothing about running a small business, but we were burnt out on life and had nothing to lose. I believe we sold three pens that day (and one was to my mother-in-law). But it was the first tiny step and no big steps happen without the tiny steps, so we just kept going back to the markets with more and more pens.”
“We rebranded in May 2021 to Veridian Pen Studio, a name more reflective of how we have become known for our bespoke pens merging with ethical Australian timber practices and the beauty of wood.”
Brad’s dream for Veridian Pen Studio? “To keep making beautiful pens that bring joy, to me as a maker and to the receiver of the pens. I love watching people get pleasure from what I’ve handcrafted from a rough log.”
Part 2 – The Woman Behind Veridian Pen Studio