Window shopping at the New Craftsmen

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You can’t exactly window shop as the New Craftsmen pop-up store is in a garage in central London, but I have been trying to find a moment to peak behind the big black doors for a while.

I was immediately struck by the beautiful turquoise glazed, embossed tiles on the walls. What beauty, and expense, to adorn what would have been stables and a  carriage house.  The tiles reflect an attention to detail that is the essence of the New Craftsmen.

Before popping-up, the founders spent two years  touring the country, meeting exceptional makers of traditional crafts, masters of skills that are often centuries old, and capturing their stories.  New Craftsmen is the result.  A selection of beautiful, and useful wares presented to customers in a place, and space that also shares the stories of the people and processes that make them.

Some pieces are produced just as they always have been, such as the Sussex trugs (gardening basket) handcrafted from locally coppiced sweet chestnut and willow by Thomas Smiths since 1829.

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Other things are a contemporary take on a classic piece, such as the Coventry chair, pictured.  Made by Sitting Firm in Coventry, the chair is one of a number of variations on the classic Windsor chair that are stocked by the New Craftsmen.  Chris Eckersley designed the chair during a green-woodworking (also know as bodging) project at Clissett Wood, in Herefordshire.  This intensive designer mash-up, now named ‘Bodging Milano’, inspired spin off events such as the ‘Elves and the Chairmakers’ in the Lloyd Loom factory in Spalding when seven chair concepts emerged over two days.  I love the notion of designers’ creative energy sparking off one another to hot house new concepts and experiment freely with materials in their environment.

Bashot_0466_copysmallercropped_compactck to the New Craftsmen, where my eye was caught by a Taylor’s Eye Witness lambsfoot pen knife.  Sheffield, the City of Steel, has a tradition of knife making dating back to the 14th century, and Taylor’s Eye Witness have been fine exemplars of the local skills for over 150 years.  The knife is made entirely by one craftsmen (and comes with a certificate bearing its maker’s signature) from stainless steel and an ironwood handle.   To see how,there is a video on the Taylor’s Eye Witness website. The knife has a reassuring weight in your palm, and yet the wood grain on the handle has a delicate beauty.  Pen knives remind me of my grandfather making all manner of things for us, from whittling sticks to rope ladders. It would make a special present for someone.  A thing of beauty to enjoy forever.

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Lloyd Loom chair is back!

Our Lloyd Loom chair is back, repaired and resprayed, and ready for use in A’s bedroomImageLloyd Loom have been making woven furniture for nearly a hundred years.  The weave is made from twisted paper and wire and the frames are traditionally made from steam-bent beech wood to create the iconic furniture.  The original factory was destroyed in the Second World War, but in 1985 David Breese, a Lincolnshire furniture maker, started manufacturing in Spalding after researching the original techniques of steam bending, weaving and braiding to reproduce the original designs.  Today the wide range includes contemporary and classic designs for indoors and outdoors.

We bought the “Lusty” chair, along with a couple of laundry baskets on ebay,  but the seat needed a small repair.  Lloyd Loom recommend Paul Boulton of Cane Chairs Repaired, a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.  Paul fixed the weave in the seat of the chair and gave it a fresh coat of paint. Now this timeless design is rejuvenated for another generation to clamber over and read stories in!

P.S. The Elves and the Chairmakers is the story of 5 designers spending two days at the Lloyd Loom factory for an intense experiment condensing the process from design concept to prototype.  The weekend produced 13 pieces for the staff to find in the showroom on Monday morning, 7 of which went forward to further development.