Misti Leitz, who lives "in secluded bliss with her partner and two unruly dogs in a ramshackle cottage in the woods just outside Ludlow" was crowned Britain’s Best Woodworker after six weeks of competition on Channel 4.
“It feels amazing," said Misti, after being crowned the winner by Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker judges Alex de Rijke and Helen Welch and host Mel Giedroyc.
"I’ve always questioned how good I am at things, but I am the winner. It feels really really good.”
Misti, who describes herself as a gender confusionist, took the opportunity to champion the way she lives her life.
“There’s no doubt that I live my life differently and I did want other people to see that actually it’s ok, you can be whatever you want in this life and you can succeed at things in this life despite your differences.
"Everybody should just be them and do their thing and be happy.”
In the final big build challenge of the series, Misti and her two fellow finalists were asked to create a garden building at least two metres high, two metres wide and two metres deep. Misti made an intricate garden lounge built from cedar and raised off the ground with steps leading to cushioned seating and a roof of fabric shades.
Series judge Helen Welch, founder of the London School of Furniture Making, said of Misti: “She’s been great from the beginning, watching her grow has been a pleasure.”
Misti worked for over 30 years as a high-end interior designer, working in mansions and stately homes. A few years ago, Misti decided to leave it all behind and now works out of her woodland workshop, sculpting from stone and wood. Ahead of the series starting, Misti said her strength is her eye for design and her knowledge of wood and what it can do.
On her website Misti, who was born in the UK in 1968 said she grew up surrounded by artists and musicians and spent most of her childhood covered in glue and paint, which somewhat inevitably steered her towards following a creative muse.
Her career path led her to become a designer of bespoke interiors, furniture, gardens and architecture at the very highest level, specialising in the re-creation of period detailing and ornament.
She has produced thousands of objects in her life, and her commissioned works can be seen in palaces, penthouses and private residences all over the world. In 2016, she began to teach herself to carve wood and stone, and has been working with her hands producing abstract sculptures ever since.
Misti says she is a perfectionist, which means she "lives her life in pursuit of something she can never truly attain, but is nevertheless driven to keep trying anyway."
Her website adds: "She believes in striving for excellence in everything she does and spends a great deal of time masking her disappointment in the results she achieves. Despite this, the creative process is, for her, a constant source of delight."
The series can be seen on Channel 4's on demand service, All4.