Obray Lyman: Furniture Maker

Membury, Devon

I was born in North Carolina but grew up in Boston and Los Angeles working in the family business building and remodelling homes. I spent much of my youth in the cabinet making shop apprenticing with master craftsmen. I tried my hand at many of the trades over those early years from electrical work to plumbing and even project management, but found that what I loved most was working with wood. 

I took four years off from the family business to go to University and earned a degree in business, where I found I had a penchant for computers and went straight into the exciting world of IT and software development. 

Ten years later in London as a manager in a Dot Com start-up I found myself longing for the old days when I worked with my hands creating things that were "real." Thankfully I was made redundant in 2002 and went back to my passion and a simpler style of life and started making furniture and cabinets for people on commission. 

There is no greater joy than making something by hand and having people really appreciate the hard work and attention to detail that has gone into it.  It’s not a very lucrative way of life, but I love working with wood and being part of a process where mere ideas become something tangible, providing joy and utility to people’s lives.

I work mostly on commission, but whenever I get a chance I design and make the pieces that I have conjured up in my own mind. Wood is a lovely living breathing material, which I feel should be tactile to the touch and emanate the warmth of its once life as a living tree where it gathered years of sunshine to build its limbs.