The majority of my childhood holidays were spent camping where we’d spend many tiring days walking miles for a promised ice cream at the end. As a kid I remember being so envious of a friend that got to lie in the sun every summer, but now I’m all grown up I’ve actually ended up just like my dad who loved the mountains; I’m especially fond of the Lake District which is only a short drive from my home in The Ribble Valley, Lancashire.
Last year I set myself a personal challenge of walking all 214 Wainwrights in a year, with this challenge just happening to coincide with my decision to purchase a laser cutter...
After years of working on computers I was looking for a more hands on creative career and found it fascinating that a laser cutter could take a digital design and make it into a tangible product. Initially I didn’t really know what to make, and launched ‘of Alp & Ash’ with a few Christmas decorations and a matchbox-sized alternative to the greetings card.
After many hours spent pouring over maps whilst planning my Wainwright walks, an idea for a map-inspired product started to take shape and I decided to try out making some coasters. It took months of digitally drawing the maps, sourcing the right materials, and prototyping with the laser cutter, before finally launching 12 different Lake District-inspired designs at a local craft fair earlier this year. Luckily, the coasters got a great response which was so exciting after being hidden away in the garage for so long creating them!
The ‘Contoured Coasters’ are cut from oak veneered plywood and feature 50m contours, popular summits, towns, and roads. Lakes and tarns are cut from a blue-tinted acrylic and cut to fit, no messy glue required. The coasters are all sealed with Danish oil and a bright orange felt is added to the back to protect coffee tables.
Since launching with those initial twelve coasters, I’ve added sets of the National Three Peaks, the Yorkshire Three Peaks and six areas of the Peak District, with plans to add more Lake District designs (currently drawing Wainwright’s favourite: Haystacks) and coasters featuring Scottish mountains.
I’m selling them through an Etsy shop at the moment and will be exhibiting at a huge Christmas Fair in Harrogate in December. Unfortunately they’re so labour intensive that I can’t afford to sell them wholesale which does mean I need to get a whole load better at marketing so people will actually know they exist (thanks to Ascendancy Apparel for letting me spread the word here!)
I completed my walking challenge in July of this year, hiking all 214 Wainwrights in 40 walks and within 1 year. It was often tough going with many walks being around the 14 mile mark and several being in really rubbish weather, but I loved being amidst the mountains and am looking forward to future hiking adventures.
Sadly for the next few months I’m under a self-imposed ban from the mountains so I can build the business and prepare for the Christmas fair, but I’m content that I’m at least creating a product inspired by them. I really hope fellow hikers and mountain fans will love them too.
Click here to see the full range of coasters and get your hands on a set of your own. Ascendancy Apparel followers can get 10% by using code ASCAPP10 at the checkout before the end of November.