This is our celebration of the unexplored world of English craftsmen and women who create incredible handmade works of art and design, often from modest sheds at the bottom of their garden.
Sam makes bespoke motorcycles from his workshop at the bottom of his garden in Layer Breton, Essex. Find him here.
Designs on Metal
If it’s made of metal then Nigel and Kev can probably make it for you. Based in Stowlangtoft, Suffolk, they produce a huge variety of pieces from railings to tables and everything in between. Find them here.
Neville Tatham Ceramics
At the bottom of Neville’s garden is what is best described as a bijou pottery studio. Inside Neville makes the most beautiful hand thrown earthenware. It was fantastic to see him transform a block of clay into a vase in a matter of minutes.
Sean Phelan Mirror Gilding
Meet Sean, a gilder based in a small workshop in Oxfordshire. This shoot did come with some challenges, the biggest being that he specialises in convex mirrors, making them near impossible to hide from. All the lighting and angles had to be carefully worked out to ensure we could get the shots Sean needed without having the camera or lighting equipment in the reflections.
Judith Hope Puppeteer
Working out of a wonderfully overflowing studio in Deptford, Judith produces the most amazing puppets for all manor of uses. Advertising agencies, magicians, and theatre companies are amongst the many and varied clients that come to her.
Stepping into her studio was like walking into the mind of a puppeteer, with test projects, scraps of materials, obscure bits and bobs bursting out of every shelf. Be sure to check out her work on her website.
For the past 28 years Russell has been supplying, restoring and repairing high quality violins, violas, cellos and bows from his Woodbridge based workshop.
You can’t move for instruments in the space. It’s a meandering 16th century network of rooms and staircases packed with violins on the walls, hanging from ceilings and in various states of repair in the workshop. The space definitely wears it’s 28 years of craft well. It’s a place that lives and breathes these instruments.
We spent the morning with Russell and Jonathan as they worked on some current projects.
Established since 2008, Typoretum was founded by Justin Knopp and his wife Cecilia in response to the recent revival of letterpress printing. Today Typoretum is a busy, family run, contemporary letterpress design and printing studio offering a wide variety of services.
The first thing that you notice is the calm, humble atmosphere that greets you when you walk in, the next is the shear number of vintage machines and presses they have managed to squeeze into the space.
We were lucky enough to visit on a day they were printing limited edition prints of the “Fuckofftopus” by artist Mr Bingo on their antique Heidenberg press.
Special thank you to British Sea Power for allowing us to use ‘The Happiness’ on our film of the day.
An anonymous farm building hidden at the back a muddy agricultural estate seems an unlikely place to give birth to such fragile and beautiful pieces of glass. But that is where you will find Jonathan Rogers quietly working away in the dim light of his workshop. We are thankful for the warm glow from the furnaces, not only for the flattering light but also because we shot these in late December and were it not for the intense heat they produce the thin corrugated steel walls would do little to insulate us from the cold outside.
It’s a huge space, much more than the garden sheds we have seen other artisans working in. We would later see why when Jonathan stretched out a blob of glass to over 9 metres in front of us. It was fascinating to see something traditionally so brittle being stretched like a rubber band. So much of the process is about feel and touch. The glass is incredibly sensitive to temperature but it’s managed all by eye and experience. We watched as Jonathan heated, spun, blew, and teased the glass into shape using tools that likely haven’t changed in hundreds of years. His only concession to the modern world is a plastic bottle for squeezing water onto the thick pads he shapes the glass with.
The final pieces are delicate, sculptural, and impeccably detailed. Some appear quite feminine and nothing at all like the environment they were created in. But, if this series has taught us anything it’s that stunning pieces of art often come from the most unlikely places.
It’s hard to define Gareth. Part craftsman, part artist and part engineer, he is a celebrated designer and maker, equally at home with a hammer and chisel or a computer controlled router.
We visited his London studio in late 2019 to photograph him as part of our artisan series and spent a fascinating morning with him and his assistant Ellie. Find out more about Gareth and his work on his website.