MEET - Mike Rankin of Wudwerx

Today we are pleased to meet Mike Rankin of Edinburgh based Wudwerx and discover the story behind his bird boxes and bee hotels.

Mike Rankin at work spray painting bee hotels

Hello, who are you and what do you do?

My name is Mike Rankin, or "Wud", and I run Wudwerx. Wudwerx is the result of a hobby that got seriously out of hand. I originally started making the bird boxes and bee hotels as a way to fill in time between work as a commercial diver, but after around 18 months I was able to go full time doing this.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love making the Cityscapes such as the Bee City, and other architectural pieces. I'm currently working on a huge piece, around 6" high by 6" wide. It's going to take a while...

Insect Factory

Do you have a specific place to do your work?

I recently constructed a workshop that is large enough to allow me to expand. It has enabled me to have essentials such as centralised dust extraction and compressed air systems, a paint spraying booth and lots and lots of work bench space. I also have a large store room for material and finished product storage.

Mike at Wudwerx's busy shed

Do you have any new projects you are working on lately, if so can you tell us a bit about them?

I do have various new ideas doing laps in my head, but unfortunately at the moment I'm a bit too busy keeping up with orders to get the new ideas made! I planned on making a new range in January and I'm still waiting for the free time now!

Who or what inspires you most in your work?

I grew up surrounded by nature and it still inspires me now. Being able to do my bit for it really makes it easy to go to work each day.

The Birds and The Bees

How do you get the word out and where can we buy your work?

I sell almost entirely online and sell on as many venues as I can. My main site is wudwerx but I also run stores on several other websites such as Etsy. I also offer drop shipping and sell through a small number of galleries. You can also find me on Facebook and as @Wudwerx on Twitter.

This year I'm also selling at The Royal Highland Show, Scone Game Fair, the West End Fair during the Edinburgh festival, and several other large events.

Wudwerx display at the Royal Highland Show 2013

How old were you when you realised you wanted to do what you do now and how did you get started?

I first started making bird boxes as a teenager and we would sell them to neighbours in the street. Although I have done many other things between then and now, it has come full circle and I'm back making them again.

small bee hotels in a variety of colours

What jobs did you have before this?

By trade I'm a commercial diver, and spent years doing inshore civil engineering diving, doing things such as bridge and pier building, salvage, ship building and various other tasks.

What advice would you give someone starting a creative business?

Get yourself out there! Sell on as many sites as possible, sell internationally wherever possible and don't undervalue your work. Do be wary of small craft fairs - there's so many around these days and many can't pull in the numbers of people required to make it really worth it. I'm aware many readers may not agree with me, but having done about 40 last year, this is my experience. To make it viable you need to at least pay for your table cost, materials, time for making, time for selling etc and many fairs don't bring enough business in for this to happen.

California Licence Plate Bird Feeder

If you had time, what new craft would you like to learn?

I would love to get some cabinet making training. My grandfather was a carpenter and made some fantastic pieces. I would love to be able to do the same at some stage.

Mike's websites and social media sites: