The oak tiffins are a playful hybrid of traditional and contemporary woodworking methods. A unique mix of steam-bent carrier frame parts, hand made plywood CNC’d into shape and Oak ‘swill’ weave from Cumbrian woodland. Owen Jones, who supplied the oak weave for the tiffins, was taught to make traditional oak swills by one of the last surviving ‘Swillers’ over 30 years ago. Swills are the name for an exceptionally durable oak lath basket which is unique to Cumbria. There’s no one left from that era and Owen is now the single link between then and now – keeping this regional tradition alive. Fortunately, he’s passed on his knowledge of this local trade which has remained largely unchanged for centuries and has taught many people, so it is set to live on.
The swill is prepared from coppiced oak which is cut green and immediately boiled in a trough and then soaked in a running stream. It is split and then skillfully bashed until the spring and summer growth separate. The harder, slower growing summer growth is then peeled off. This is what was used to weave the tiffin baskets.
The tiffins were made by traditionally trained cabinet makers at the Special Branch Furniture workshop.