Handmade in Devon: beautiful creations that make unique gifts
- Credit: Photo: Russell Kingston
Objects of beauty: Devon has a wealth of talented craftsmen and women whose work will be on show at the Digital Craft Festival. The annual craft festival at Bovey Tracey has been postponed until next year because of coronavirus but you can still enjoy a Digital Craft Festival over the weekend of 26-28 June. Here we introduce just a few of the Devon-based craftsmen and women who will taking part in the online event.
Devonshire slipware is made by potter Russell Kingston on the Exmoor coast at Lynmouth. His wheel-thrown pots are intended to be used, so their forms are simple and robust.
He says: “Devonshire Slipware is the perfect medium for me. Its roots in North Devon are what drew me to it; its humble origins of the everyday medieval pot to its vibrant place in todays studio pottery. My pots are made for the kitchen and table, I hope that they are used and enjoyed in everyday life. Although my work is deeply rooted in the North Devon Slipware traditions, it has a freshness that sits well in any modern gallery or home. I marry old techniques with newer ones. The colours I have developed are fresher and more contemporary than traditional slipware and more in line with today’s market.”
Belgian clothes designer and maker Sigrid has been living in Silverton, near Exeter, for the past 21 years working on her own pieces and making habits and vestments for the monks at Buckfast Abbey. After studying in Antwerpen at the Academy of Fine Arts and at CTL in Gent Sigrid worked for a number of renowned Belgian fashion designers before setting out on her own.
She says: “I make one-off hand-made pieces in natural materials that are both timeless and contemporary. The finishing touches are hand stitched with meticulous attention to detail as intricate on the inside as they are minimalist on the outside. I often use sustainable and vintage materials. I have a passion for materials and shapes, and always make pieces with forever in mind.”
Jewellery maker Charmian has lived and worked in the North Devon town of Great Torrington for the past 36 years and a few months ago moved into a newly-built home and workshop.
She says: “I make jewellery with a generous use of gold and or silver, combined with a unique and interesting variety of gemstones. These are not always precious stones, but whatever I use has to be beautiful. My inspiration often comes from the stones themselves – they can suggest their own design – but ideas spring from many visual stimulants including the work of ancient civilisations.”
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Potter Arwyn Jones moved to Modbury in the South Hams 20 years ago and makes functional thrown kitchen and tableware. Arwyn trained at Loughborough College of Art and Design and worked briefly as a thrower in a pottery in South Wales before starting on his own in Frome, Somerset. He says: “My love of food has always been at the heart of my work. My hope is to make pieces that contribute to the rituals and pleasures of preparing and enjoying food either on your own or with friends and family.”
Arwyn’s influences range from the country pottery traditions of Western Europe and the rich glaze traditions of North East Asia to modern and Gothic architecture. He says the ever-inspiring beauty of nature has also informed his ideas and shaped the finished pieces.
At her workshop in Bow, Mid Devon, Rosie Brewer creates wooden kitchen utensils, serving boards and spoons. She uses wood from a array of species – giving her range a rich colour palette with many different tones. The finish is natural and unstained and Rosie uses a special home-made blend of oils and waxes to protect the wood to bring out the grain and patterns. Wood comes from a variety of sources and is often locally-grown timber from Devon and the South West, Reclaimed wood is also used and imported woods which come as offcuts from other furniture makers and flooring companies.
Rosie grew up in Mid Devon and after moving to London to study 3D design at Camberwell College of Arts she returned to Devon and started up the wood workshop on a peaceful site surrounded by fields, a river and farmland. She says: “I find inspiration in everything, from the knots and swirls of the wood itself, to cooking and wishing for a certain shape to exist. I carefully study each piece of wood before I get going, deciding whether it will become a spoon, a serving board, a little pinch pot or something else entirely. Selecting the right wood for the right purpose is as much about intuition as anything else.”
The acronym RAMP stands for Roop and Al Make Pots. Roop Johnstone and Alice Hartford live and work in Silverton in the heart of Devon. They specialise in making hand thrown slip decorated earthenware and have done for nearly 20 years.
They also now run pottery classes in their new studio located on the outskirts of Silverton.
Takahashi McGil, members of the Devon Guild of Claftsmen, is a husband and wife team who have an open studio at Cockington.
They use both Japanese and Western tools and techniques. Takahashi McGil adopt traditional Art and Craft and use their own interpretation in their unique way.
Digital Craft Festival director Sarah James says: “We exist to support contemporary makers of craft and we hope our loyal visitors will join us for a weekend of talks with makers, demonstrations, workshops, films, music and even Yoga. Zoom will be very busy that weekend!”
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