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Handcrafted Best from the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen

Handbags made completely from leather with no metal components Photo Eva Kecseti
Handbags made completely from leather with no metal components Photo Eva Kecseti

Handcrafted items made by members of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen.

LEATHER

Éva Kecseti was inspired by her mother, a well-known textile artist in Hungary, and began working with leather when just a teenager. She moved to Somerset from Budapest over 20 years ago and has built up a respected business from her studio in the Mendips. She designs and makes handbags which she describes as ‘timeless pieces for those who prefer style rather than following trends purely for the sake of fashion.’

Despite leaving Hungary all those years ago, Éva is still inspired and fascinated by the wild places and folklore of her homeland, with elements of the stories weaving their way into her designs. Her handcrafted bags are made completely from leather, with no metal components, just like the leather goods made by shepherds in the mountains, in beautiful, rich earthy colours. ‘I like to make the most of both the visual and functional qualities of leather, embracing its naturally evocative colours and textures.’

Great British Life: The sgraffito technique Photo Ingrid JohannessonThe sgraffito technique Photo Ingrid Johannesson

POTTERY

Ingrid Johannesson is a retired primary school and art teacher. She emigrated to the UK from Cape Town in 2005 and has subsequently moved to Bath where she and her ceramicist husband, James Hourigan, both work from their garden studio.

Ingrid is passionate about the medium of clay, principally designing mugs and bowls. She particularly enjoys using the sgraffito technique (pictured here), derived from an Italian word meaning ‘to scratch’, which involves scratching and carving through a top, decorative layer of coloured clay to leave behind a design.

There is a hint of an African influence in her work, whilst leaves from plants in her garden play a role in her pottery and sgraffito pieces. This includes imprinting sage leaves into the clay. ‘It is a special process,’ she explains, ‘and peeling back the leaf brings great joy.’

Ingrid’s mugs and bowls are at this year’s Bath Christmas Market, together with her husband’s ceramic homewares.

Great British Life: The Burr Oak Platter Photo Shaun StaceyThe Burr Oak Platter Photo Shaun Stacey

WOOD

Having been in the construction industry all his working life, Shaun Stacey was surrounded by straight lines and level surfaces. All that changed fourteen years ago when he was given a woodturning lesson as a birthday present and discovered both an interest and a natural talent for working with wood. He now sees everything in a different light, studying the shape and texture of objects he encounters to work into his designs.

He uses many different techniques and tools to enhance the wood’s form and natural beauty, for instance burning the wood or using a wire brush to distress it and give a feeling of age. The Burr Oak platter shown here is all one piece of wood (except for the timber studs which were applied separately) and then different techniques applied to give the metallised band effect.

Shaun works from his lakeside studio where he takes commissions and also holds one-to-one woodturning workshops.

Great British Life: Kiln formed glass Photo Susan Sinclair Kiln formed glass Photo Susan Sinclair

GLASS

Susan Sinclair has a background in archaeology, which probably goes some way to explain her interest in working with glass: ‘it connects me with our history, having been used for personal objects and architectural adornment for over a thousand years,’ she says.

Her work is kiln-formed glass, using techniques including pâte de verre, an ancient glass casting technique which literally means 'paste of glass' (pictured here). She also creates gravity pieces from sheet glass, or sintered powder wafers which are combined to form a textured surface. She predominantly uses opaque glass which allows for a greater colour saturation. ‘I have always been fascinated by colour and how it can express and affect mood,’ Sue explains.

Much of her work is comprised of seemingly, if not truly, functional objects such as vessels and bowls. ‘I am thrilled when someone looks at one of my creations and sees something special with which they can connect.’

Great British Life: Handprinting plant designs on napkins Photo Clare WalshHandprinting plant designs on napkins Photo Clare Walsh

TEXTILE

Clare Walsh is a textile designer and maker, who recently moved to a studio in a village just outside Frome. She is inspired by the Somerset countryside, using natural leaves, flowers and herbs to create her original designs.

The base fabric that Clare uses is natural linen, selected for its sustainability, durability and absorbency. She handprints her plant designs straight onto the linen, before using the printed fabric to create a range of home products including her best-selling linen napkins (pictured). Each print is a one-off, and she is happy to take on special commissions, working with particular specified botanicals where it is possible.

Clare regularly holds printed textile workshops. ‘The two most popular sessions are Indian Block Printing, where I use my collection of over a hundred hand carved blocks,’ Clare explains, ‘and sublimation printing which is the technique I use to print with leaves, producing a depth of colour and layers.’

For further details on all the craftspeople, visit somersetcraftguild.co.uk



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