We all have special memories whether framed or stored in an album that we can delve into at any time, transporting us to a particular place and moment. Our photographs are preserved memories and when our busy schedules allow, we can revel in the moments and relive them. Dating back to 1800’s when Thomas Wedgewood made the first reliable documentation of combining a dark room with some substances that alter in light, however this was unsuccessful and was not until the mid 1820’s when Nicéphore Niépce succeeded. After much research, developing and fine-tuning the process, the photograph was born in 1839 and since then our love to photography has flourished. Today we have cameras that are all-singing and dancing, smart phones with an in-built camera and fancy filter apps that with a single tap, transforms your photos into something magical and can be shared on apps such as Instagram. While all this marvellous technology is wonderful, I feel we have come away and perhaps lost the ‘traditional’ photograph. I remember many times though my childhood that my Mum would share old photographs of relatives or photos her childhood. Marvelling at the 5-year-old Mum or the fashion of the day, the slight sepia tinge and the small creases at the corners instilled a warm feeling and fascination, almost peering through a window into the past. Being able to hold onto this small treasure is incredible, not only is it a direct link to the past of my ancestors but also something I can never recapture. While the rise of smart technology means it’s far easier to share photos, most of the time they are stored on our phones or laptops in a folder and only accessed to view when time prevails. Unless digital photos are printed to be placed into frames, then we rarely see them. I do not profess to say that I wholeheartedly dislike digital photos, as I am a fan of Instagram myself and enjoy sharing my photography with others, but I do relish in the old traditional photograph.
When I had the opportunity to review a very special and unique way of displaying our digital photos, I was immediately excited and intrigued. Based in the Lake District, the Sugar Shed prints photos of your choice onto beautiful pieces of local hardwood. Creators Sarah Rose and Angela Gunner became inspired and wanted to display photos in a unique way as opposed to a photo frame. Each piece is lovingly hand finished before it leaves and as the grain of each tree is completely different, so too is the final product making it unique and personal to you. The company’s ethos is to use wood that is beautiful to the eye but sourced locally and is sustainable. Abundant in beautiful woodlands, the Lake District presents well-managed woodlands and most importantly, suppliers that share the shame ethos in respect of love for the trees. Most of the Sugar Shed’s products are printed on ash, as the colour and texture are the perfect base for the photos but they will sometimes use beech or sycamor but ash is defiantly their favourite wood to use. The Sugar Shed’s supplier ensures the wood is perfectly finished and very touchingly, they say that its continuing the life of that tree. White ink is not used during the printing process; hence the beautiful grain of the wood can be admired and gives texture to the photos.
Amongst the variety of products, I chose The Sugar Square (pack of four) which is 20cm x 20cm squares that can be hung on the wall (each square comes with a keyhole hanger embedded into the back) or propped up displaying your favourite photos or quote. I decided to use three photos and a quote which reads: “do what makes the soul happy.” The process is simple to do and involves uploading your chosen photos via their website and they do the rest! The squares arrived perfectly packaged and secure and was delivered first class via Royal Mail. I am really pleased how the photos have turned out and especially love how the wood grains run through – it’s like having a little piece of the Lake District in my home. At the moment they are propped up, but I shall be hanging these on my wall and I know I shall treasure them forever. I was lucky to be able to have a quick interview with Sarah (one of the co-founders of Sugar Shed) where we talked about summer puddings and weekend BBQ’s in the garden…
What sets The Sugar Shed apart from other businesses?
The Sugar Shed are the only company in the UK who print directly on to Lake District sourced hardwoods. The natural bark edging on the majority of our products really makes them stand out and gives a lovely, rustic feel and the thickness of our Chunks and Mini Chunks means they can stand or be stacked wherever takes your fancy!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Angela (Co-Founder) and I were lucky enough to grow up together in Windermere and Ambleside, so the natural beauty of the Lake District was always on our doorstep. It plays a huge part in the products we create. We love knowing that we are giving people a piece of that natural landscape in their own homes.
What is the best thing about your job / business?
We are both quite arty and creative, so it’s nice being able to explore that and bring it out once we’ve dropped all the kiddies off at nursery! But one thing that we always talk about is the fact that, during these challenging times that we are living in, it is so nice to see all the happy photos that people send us to create something for them. We get to see our customer’s happiest moments and memories every day, and that’s a lovely feeling.
How do you relax after a long day?
Angela loves to read, whereas I tend to throw my running kit on as soon as my husband gets home from work and head out the door. It really helps me to switch off. And we’ll both never say no to a nice glass of wine.
What is your favourite summer pudding?
Probably my Mum’s homemade lemon tart. It always tastes better when it’s been in the fridge for a while I think, especially on a summer’s day.
How does your perfect weekend shape up?
For me it would be a lie in followed by brunch in Windermere, then a sunny afternoon in Grasmere with our boys, paddling in the lake and taking in the views. We’d then head home for a BBQ in the garden with lots of our lovely friends.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my review and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.