Why Handmade Wooden Mirrors are the Future of Home Furnishing

Handmade Wood Mirrors

At Steamed Studios, we create handmade wooden mirrors that are durable and unique, with the ability to turn any ordinary house into an extraordinary home. Each beautiful and handcrafted mirror adds a touch of comfort and personalisation to the home environment, sure to catch the eye of any guest.

Statement Piece

We like to consider our handmade wooden mirrors as statement pieces that can be passed down through the generations. Statement pieces are an incredible choice in the home as they become the focus of the design and draw the eyes of anyone who enters the room.

If you’re looking to set the tone for your living space, a handmade wooden mirror could be just what you need. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to pick a statement piece, with many people thinking you need to opt for something big and bright. Choosing an item that is too colourful or large can have an adverse effect and dominate the room.

One of our best-sellers, the Piras mirror, is framed in an organic shape that we believe compliments natural themes. Inspired by vintage hand mirrors, the Piras mirror can blend seamlessly into your decor or act as a standalone piece depending on the finish you opt for. With Steamed Studios, the choices are endless.

Another great option is the Belvedere mirror. This mirror is a more modern shape that has been steam bent to achieve rounded, graceful lines. Suitable for any room in the home, we create timeless pieces that add a sense of character and luxury.

Our range of handmade, steam-bent mirrors come in a range of colours such as Intense Black, Nordic White, and Pure. Through this choice, we believe it makes it easier for you to achieve your home design goals.

Handmade wooden mirrors are a versatile feature and can add a touch of glamour to any room. They also maximise your space and draw in natural light, opening up the room to make it feel fresh and airy.

Individual and Unique

Due to the intricate grain patterns in the wood brought out by the oil we use, each mirror is completely unique. This means that when you purchase a handmade wooden mirror from Steamed Studios, you are purchasing a lovingly-made bespoke item. With an exposed grain finish, our mirrors lend an organic feel to the home.

We pride ourselves on creating products to last, and the handmade wooden mirror is no exception to this rule. Each product undergoes a rigorous examination before it is sold to ensure no faults. Crafted by hand in our studio, we use a range of traditional steam bending techniques to create smooth curves in the frame and beads that hold the mirror in place.

Whether you’re a minimalist or more of a maximalist, our handmade mirrors can be dressed up or down, suiting every kind of home and design theme. Pair our Nordic White mirrors with pastel hues or bright colours, or, if you prefer a more Scandi-chic look, compliment your mirror with pale wood furniture and neutral tones.

On the other hand, the Intense Black mirrors, crafted from English ash, give a vintage-inspired look to any home and would be perfect as an addition to any hallway or amongst bronzed or copper pots in the kitchen.

Professional Technique

Our handmade wooden mirrors have a natural look and are handcrafted to last. If you are someone who appreciates the time it takes to take a product from the design stage to the finished result, then our range of mirrors certainly ticks all the boxes. They are a beautiful blend of a smooth design and craftsmanship that works to create a piece that is completely one of a kind.

Steam bending is an antique process whereby wood fibres are steamed so they are pliable enough to be stretched, contorted, and bent; when cooled the timber holds its beautiful new shape. At Steamed Studios, we love the process of steam bending because of its rich history and the products it can make. From contemporary to mid-century designs, steam bending can create luxury pieces that add a touch of beauty to any home.

Wood is a great material to work with because it provides strength and versatility. The process of bending wood for furniture use has been around for centuries, with our ancestors using similar techniques to create long-lasting, and quite frankly, remarkable pieces.

Our range of handmade wooden mirrors are made with care and high attention to detail every step of the way. From the initial designs to the development of purpose-made jigs, we take pride in our work to create statement pieces that will survive the test of time.

Deciding to have a handmade item in your home is a more personal choice than purchasing a mass-produced piece. Knowing that your new statement mirror has been carefully crafted by a passionate maker is a great feeling and it can be rewarding to purchase something for your home that has been made with care and attention.

Take the Leap Today

At Steamed Studios, we care about the planet and do our part to reduce the impact of our business on the environment. This means that we source sustainable materials that are kinder to the earth. Steam bending is also an environmentally friendly technique as it uses low amounts of energy and produces very minimal environmental waste.

If you’ve been searching for a statement piece for your living room, or simply want to add a finishing touch to your bedroom, a handmade mirror can achieve that for you. Continuing to honour our artisanal roots, each piece we create is perfectly curved by hand meaning that every item is completely unique.

For a piece that is both elegant and distinct, consider our handmade wooden mirrors. With a range to choose from and in various finishes, our pieces complement a range of homes from contemporary to character.

All mirrors are handmade to order and are usually dispatched in around 2 to 3 weeks. They are also available to be delivered within mainland UK. If you have any further questions, contact our team by calling 01603 850 282 or through our social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedln.

Wood Steam Bending Q&A

Wood Steam Bending Q&A

Wood Steam Bending Q&A with our founder, Gary Smith

We often get asked many questions about the process of steam bending wood. Please read the insightful Q&A section below to find out more.

How long do you steam wood for?

As a general rule of thumb, we steam wood for around an hour per inch thickness. This allows the wood fibres to become pliable, enough to be stretched, contorted and bent. It’s amazing what wood can do when steamed.

Can you steam bend any type of wood?

We tend to use green or air-dried timber for the best possible results. Not every type of wood is suitable for steam bending. The best ones are hardwoods such as oak, ash, walnut, elm, cherry, maple and beech.

Can you bend kiln-dried wood?

We generally keep away from steam bending kiln-dried timber as it usually leads to poor results. However, if you’re only after a shallow bend, you can try to soak the wood for a period of time and then steam it.

Can you bend softwoods like pine?

Softwoods are generally not as good as hardwoods to bend, but if the bends are gentle, this gives softwoods such as pine the best chance of steam-bending success.

What’s your favourite wood to bend?

We love ash because it’s such a beautiful timber, and we particularly like the colour and grain. However, most importantly, it bends easily.

What’s the best wood to bend?

Through our experience, we’ve found that ash and oak give the best results.

What’s the maximum thickness of wood you can bend?

The thicker the wood, the more force and leverage you’re going to need to bend it. The design and strength of the jig are important too. So, when you design the jig, make sure you design and engineer the jig to withstand the pressure you put upon it.

What other things can steam-bent wood be used for?

Steam bending history goes back a long way and across many cultures of the world. It was first used by Ancient Egyptians for tools and boat building. Today, it’s still used for those and other items too, such as musical instruments, bannisters and furniture.

What can you use to heat water to generate steam for bending wood?

Years ago, old shipwrights would’ve used a giant pot of water boiling over an open flame to generate the heat for steaming. You can heat the moisture that’s already found in wood by using an open fire to turn the water into steam. Now, most modern steam benders would use a gas stove or a wallpaper stripper. A Gas stove is good because you can adjust the temperature for efficiency. A wallpaper stripper is an ideal option if you’re just starting out in steam bending. It’s also fairly safe due to the fact that most strippers have a thermal cut-out switch that prevents overheating.

How likely is wood to break during the bending process?

There are so many factors which could lead to breakage, and steam-bending is an acquired skill. However, the type of wood chosen is very important to avoid cracking. The wood should have a straight grain and be free of any defects or have minimal knots. It should also have some natural moisture and not be too dry, ideally with a moisture content of around 15% – 20%. When it comes to the design, you need to be realistic about the tightness of the bends you’re aiming for too. When it comes to choosing the tightness of the radius you want to bend, make sure your selection of timber is suitable for the task at hand. During the process of bending, you need to make sure the timber is hot enough throughout and is under enough compression. While you’re bending, it must be sufficiently clamped throughout the bend. The more you practise, the greater experience you’ll have, and you’ll learn to avoid any failures.

Do you waste a lot of wood when bending due to breakages?

When we first started bending wood, there were a few breakages during the learning process, but with practice, we developed our expertise. To become good at steam bending and know what works and what doesn’t can take years to master.

What is a compression strap?

A compression strap is used to hug the outside of the timber while bending. It helps prevent the wood from splitting or breaking during the bending process. Metal (stainless or galvanised steel) is a good, solid material for a compression strap.

What do you mean by a jig?

A jig is a metal or wooden structure that you are bending the wood around or into. Whether it’s making a steam-bent wooden light or one of our wooden mirrors, we always use jigs. When designing and making the jigs, we make sure they’re robust enough for the task at hand.

How hot does your steam chamber have to get to bend wood?

A consistent temperature of around 212 Fahrenheit (100 Celsius) is best.

What can you use to build a steam chamber?

Many things can be used to build a steam chamber. Check out the most popular ones below.

PVC pipe

Finding a plastic pipe is easy; just pop into your local plumbing merchant. There you can also find fittings for either end of the pipe. One thing to bear in mind with a PVC pipe is that due to the extreme temperatures, the pipe must be well supported to stop it from sagging. We suggest using HDPE or even polypropylene instead.

A wooden box

In our opinion, this is a better alternative to a plastic pipe as it’s much more rigid. A wooden box can be made from solid wood or even just plywood. If you go for plywood, make sure it’s marine ply as this will last longer.

Stainless steel flue pipe

This is a very durable option that’s likely to last the longest due to its anti-corrosive properties. When making a steam chamber, always put a small vent hole to allow for some steam to escape. You don’t want the steam chamber to be completely sealed as this is dangerous. You should also make sure that the steam chamber is well insulated on the outside for the best possible results. This helps it to reach the required temperature and be more efficient.

Is there a way to bend wood without using steam?

Steam bending is our preferred method, ‘ but there are other ways to bend wood without using steam. Below are a couple of processes.

Kerf bending

This is the process of cutting deep slots into a piece of wood that then allows it to bend.

Bent lamination

Despite its name, it’s not bending as such but more a process of using Multiple thin strips of wood which are glued together and then bent around a form, resulting in a rigid structure.

What is the difference between steam bending and bent laminating a piece of wood?

Steam bending

One solid piece of wood is put into the steamer. Once steamed, it’s then taken out and bent into the desired shape.

Bent Lamination

This is bending several layers of thin wood into a shape by glueing each layer together and then clamping until the glue is set to get your desired shape.

Why do you love steam bending so much?

We enjoy the whole process, from designing wooden lighting and homeware to the labour and the unique finished products. There are endless possibilities with steam bending, and we love coming up with new designs and making unique handmade products which will be passed down generations.

What’s the inspiration for some of your wooden lighting designs?

Nature plays a big part in my daily inspiration for steam bending products. We love the great outdoors and natural beauty. Interior design trends also give us stimulus for creating pieces that are sought after and unique.

Once the wood is steamed, how long does it take to dry out?

Once steamed and clamped into a jig, the wood is placed into our purpose-built drying room. Time spent drying all depends on the thickness of the timber. The minimum we tend to leave all pieces is around 24 hours.

Does steam bending make the wood weak?

If the wood has no defects and the steam bending is done correctly and professionally, then it can actually make the wood stronger due to the fact that technically, there’s no short-grain/ cross-grain weakness. A bonus is that less glue is used, and there are no visible glue lines like you get with laminating.

I’m thinking of trying steam bending at home. Do you think I could do it?

When we first started steam bending, we started off with simple bends, such as bending wood around small objects like gutter downpipes. We also twisted small pieces of wood with our hands and then clamp the twists into basic jigs. If you want to try it for yourself at home, the process of steam bending is pretty simple. All you need is a steam box or something like a wallpaper stripper that generates the steam consistently, a jig or form, and some gloves to protect your hands. Steam bending with thinner pieces of timber keeps things easy, but once you decide to use thicker timbers, you’ll probably need a compression strap for bending the wood, depending on how tight the bend that you wish to make is. Having fun trying things out at home is a great way to get started if you’re keen to learn about steam bending.

Once the wood is dry, does it tend to spring back into its original shape if it’s not supported?

If the steam-bent wood has dried thoroughly and kept at an ambient room temperature, then it shouldn’t move much at all. It’s only if the wood is then brought into damp conditions that it could spring back slightly.

How being creative can boost your mental health

Boost your mental health

hether you’re the sort of person who craves creativity or wonder whether you’ve got a creative bone in your body, being creative is a great way to improve and strengthen your mental health. Amongst many other benefits, being creative when it comes to crafts keeps the mind active, increases the release of feel-good hormones and reduces stress. It can also boost your immune system and actually make you smarter! So let’s take a look at some of the most significant ways in which being creative can improve your mental health. 

It increases happiness 

Have you ever found yourself getting into the flow of an activity? One where you lose all sense of time? The state of flow is proven to reduce feelings of anxiety, increase mood and even lower your heart rate. What’s more, repetitive activities such as knitting, drawing or writing can help activate flow, and these are all tasks that create a reaction in your brain, like releasing a happy feeling caused by dopamine, the feel-good chemical that actually motivates you. Whether you are aware of it or not, this feeling drives you and influences your behaviour to take on more creative tasks.  

It helps focus the mind 

The average person has around 60,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of information to process. Partaking in creative activities can help focus the mind. Some even compare creative pursuits to meditation due to the calming effects of both the body and brain. Finding what you love and actively taking part in that activity reduces anxiety, depression and stress levels. If arts and crafts are not your strong point, even writing letters or journals has been proven to help people manage negative emotions and improve their overall mental health. 

Increases brain function 

Most creative activities, including playing an instrument or writing, can help engage your left and right brain and improve your overall cognitive health.  

It’s actually amazing that doing the activities we love the most bring us such joy and improve our overall state of mind and wellbeing. Crafting my products puts me in a good place and helps me refocus on what is really important in life. It’s not just the actual process of creating that improves my state of mind, it’s taking the time to spend in nature, to gain inspiration for my next project, taking in the fresh air and getting out for some exercise. I encourage everyone reading this to do something that inspires them today, whether it’s picking up a pen and doodling or getting your hands dirty in the garden. Creativity comes in many forms, all of which should be enjoyed and celebrated. 

Ebonising Wood

Ebonising Wood

Native to Africa, Indonesia and parts of India, ebony is a slow-growing dense hardwood with distinctive black colouration with a satin sheen when cut and polished. It is sometimes used for black piano keys, canoes, ornaments, black chess pieces and its bark can be used to dye cloth a deep blue colour. However, this beautiful wood is one of the rarest and most expensive types of wood in the world making it difficult to work with. Fortunately, there are skilled processes that enable wood to embody ebony features.


History of ebonising wood

Ebonising wood originated in the 16th century but was not adopted as popular practice until the 19th century. Some experts also used iron to blacken the wood by oxidising the natural tannins in the timber, whilst others made stain solutions using steel wool and vinegar. A method used in the 16th century was to use the powder of dried nut galls found on oak trees, otherwise known as oak apples. Nut galls are high in tannic acid and were brewed with rainwater and then painted in even layers to prepared wood. Nut galls were also infused in vinegar along with rusty nails and this was used as a rub. Once dry, the newly darkened wood was polished to give it ‘satin ebony sheen’.

Ebonising Wood

Our ebonising process

Steamed Studio was inspired by both current and classic interior design. In homeware, we think ebony inspired products are timeless and elegant. Most of our products have their natural colours enhanced with oils but experimenting with ebonising stains was a way to add another dimension to our products as well as inspiring us as designers. We are pleased with the outcome and we hope you will be too.
Over the years, we have perfected the way we ebonise timber and we feel it gives each piece an alluring lustre charm. We use a combination of stains and oils that give each piece our signature ebonised look. Hung on the walls of character dwellings or centrepieces in contemporary homes, our ebonised products look remarkable in every space.

Steam Bending and Blacksmithing: The Overlap of Disciplines

Steam Bending and Blacksmithing The Overlap of Disciplines

Both steam bending and blacksmithing are ancient techniques that change raw materials shape and function. One craft created the wheels of horse carts, the other made the swords of warriors. Although seemingly worlds apart, the two areas share common ground. Early ironwork is thought to date back to 1500 B.C. with some sources believing it may even be as early as 800-500 B.C. Initially, tools would have been crude and likely made of stone. Work would have been crafted over a campfire until the invention of bloomeries in 3000 B.C. which were effectively beehive looking furnaces made from rock. Hundreds of years later, these were replaced with industrial furnaces of which blacksmiths still use today. Like steam bending, which was thought to predate ancient Egyptian times, the process has evolved but its reliance on fire and extreme heat remains. For more about the history of steam bending, you can read our blog here.

Both metal shaping and timber bending are lengthy processes that require careful heating and well-rehearsed timings. A blacksmith forges with swift and precise hammer blows and works quickly to seal the desired shape. Similarly, a steam bender must work whilst the fibres is still soft and bend the timber around jigs before the wood cools and risks splitting. Where a blacksmith uses a furnace to directly heat and shape the metal, steam bending utilises the heat and moisture of steam to temper wood. Once the timber fibres are soft, the wood can be steered, and jigs are put in place to ease it into a new shape. After many hours, the wood is cool and fixed into its beautiful newfound structure. Like steam benders, blacksmiths contort, squash, and twist their material, freezing it in time into a new shape. Beautiful Victorian railings, Georgian balconies and Gothic gates all exhibit the skill and charm of a blacksmith’s handiwork. When seeking inspiration, Steamed Studio looks to history, nature and across craft disciplines to be submerged in creativity and endless design ideas. The inspiring and intricate work of blacksmiths can sometimes be seen reflected in our designs.

Contemporary steam bent and iron forged structures are special and built to last. Mixing ancient techniques with modern design makes for timeless pieces that we can love and enjoy in our home for generations. As people look for something less ‘off the shelf’ and more artistic, as with steam bending, blacksmithing is experiencing a resurge. This means new creatives are learning the old ways and put their artistic spin on their work.

Metal bent lamp shade
Nova Steam Bent Wooden Lampshade