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Neil Ayling

For many years Neil worked as a Sculptor in art restoration and also produced his own works. His training in sculpture began with a position as an assistant to the late Sir Anthony Caro whose work was characterised by assemblages of various metals and other materials. Naturally, this afforded Neil a great opportunity to develop, not only an extensive set of skills working with various materials and in metal fabrication, but an eye for aesthetic details.

A passion for food and cooking and a colleague’s forge led to a hobby in knife making and eventually a lack of work in the field of sculpture, caused by the pandemic, led to this hobby becoming a profession and the establishment of Willow Forge. A diverse knowledge of materials and a talent for creating unique surface finishes, patinas and other textures is clearly present in Neil’s work.

Neil’s knives are characterised by his skills in sculpture, he often uses unique textural finishes on his blades and accents his handles with obscure materials like Sting Ray skins, magnesium set in resin, tastefully paired with natural and stabilised woods and other materials. The performance of the blades is equally impressive, and we are very proud to be able to offer Neil’s work here at Modern Cooking.