A YOUNG lad who started carpentry when he was just six years old is now set to earn thousands working from his parents’ spare room.
Gabriel Clark, now 12, has a passion for woodwork but initially thought it was one hardly anyone else shared.
His Instagram page, where his parents have uploaded a handful of videos of him at work, originally had just six followers.
Dad Richard, 52, a TV director, offered to help compose a tweet in an attempt to boost that number.
He thought, with some luck, he might get 60 followers.
Now the youngster has an astonishing 227,000 followers – more than Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, 181,000 followers, star of Downton Abbey Hugh Bonneville, 152,000, and Sir Chris Hoy, winner of six Olympic gold medals, with 50,300.
Gabriel also has about 20,000 orders for bowls and he might be able to meet the demand if he dedicates the next 32 years to the job.
“I came home from school and I was a little bit down and dad put something up on Twitter,” Gabriel told The Times. “I started to get 10-20 followers every minute or so. Within an hour it was at 1,000 and I was really shocked by it and I was so happy.
“On Saturday morning, dad woke me up and I said: ‘Oh, dad, can I see my phone?’ On Friday night it was 11,000. On Saturday morning it was 33,000.”
Richard, thanks to his work on Doctor Who and the Netflix hit Outlander, had gained a following on Twitter of 7,000 people, and sheepishly rang his wife to tell her: “I think I may have made a mistake. You’d better come home.”
Mum Teresa, an artist, suggested her son’s fondness for working with wood had tapped into people’s admiration for creativity.
She said: “I think it does strike a chord. There’s a nostalgia to what Gabriel is doing. It’s a reminder of simpler pleasures. There’s a desire for something tangible.”
Interest in woodwork among children does appear to be in decline.
While it is studied as part of design and technology, the proportion of students taking up the subject fell 22 per cent in 2020, down from 44 per cent in 2009.
Gabriel, who attends Queen Elizabeth School in Kirby Lonsdale, Cumbria, has refused to raise his prices despite is new-found fame, although he is happy to be closer to being able to afford a mountain bike.
His next item, named a Bowl for Ukraine, is being raffled-off and he hopes to raise £5,000 to help refugees.
He said that he wasn’t taking commissions. “I’ve got 20,000 orders. It just won’t be possible. I’m going to start an Etsy shop and sell things there.”
Asked what he thought if a buyer were to resell one of his bowls for £100, he replied: “Good for them. I’m about halfway to getting a mountain bike. I’ve got £870, but I’ve enough stock to get to £1,000.”
He added that any money left over would be put towards getting a router to enable him to make dovetail joints. “It is one of the hardest joins to make. That’s why I need a router.”
Gabriel made his first wooden creation, a balsa wood tractor when he was just three.
Over the years he has also made a directing stick for his father, to point at actors, a balsa wood drumkit, a seed-planting machine, a peanut dispenser and a hug-o-meter to record the number of hugs his mother has received in a day.
He said that if he was off school, he could make three bowls a day, meaning it would take him 32 years to fulfil the 20,000 orders.
“It’s not that bad,” he joked.
Richard said he would have to fit his passion for woodwork around doing his homework and tidying his room.
He said that it was not unusual to wake at 6am and wonder what noise he can hear before realising that it is Gabriel working on his lathe.
Gabriel has even been mentioned on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 show.
He added that he wasn’t sure he wanted to pursue woodwork as a career but said he wanted to do something creative.
When his father cautioned him not to get too carried away by his following, Gabriel teased him: “I’ve got more followers than you, Dad.”
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