Atlantic Drift is the work of Al Whitworth. I work from my home workshop in Eshaness, a remote corner-post of Shetland, making furniture, maps, signs and whatever else grabs me.
My work rarely stays the same. It all started with making driftwood furniture, then my techy side led me to buy a CNC router to create 3d maps, then back to reclaimed timber building.
Right now, my emphasis is on carved maps, particularly of Shetland. Maps have always been a fascination for me and turning them into pieces worthy of anyone’s wall is great fun.
I’m all about the process really. Specifically the challenge of the process. A lot of my work is pretty unique and different from anything else out there. There’s a reason for that I guess; the time and thought invested in a single design can’t really be approached from a business point of view. So I don’t.
This route can be slow, for example making my workshop from reclaimed materials for under £1000 took over a year to complete. And buying a kit cnc router delivered in 700 pieces took me several months to produce something not destined for the woodburner.
Shetland is a dream place for creative people and there are a lot of them here! There is space and time here in ways that I’ve found hard to find elsewhere in the UK.
It might not seem the best place to work with local timber given there are few trees but the supply of driftwood from the wild Atlantic is endless, even if you have to work for it.
As a part time builder and part time decommissioning engineer I also get my hands on a fair bit of reclaimed timber, too.
I thrive on exploring what is possible with materials, especially within the realm of low impact, re-used and re-purposed wood.
As a starting point for a design I find the timber and then work from there. Sometimes a design fits, sometimes it doesn’t. And after a few years you end up with a hefty stock of driftwood and reclaimed timber that you haven’t quite found a use for yet. But our house is heated by a woodburner so that’s ok!
I try to be low impact in my work. Any new wood I try to get from local and environmentally sound resources, and I finish my work in all-natural stains and oils. I tend not to package my work more than needed, but when I do, it’s using recycled materials.