Crafty small­hold­ers

Three more crafts­men and women talk to Deb­bie Kings­ley

Country Smallholding - - Welcome - MORE https://www.bethan­jarvis­jew­ http://www.ianthetoy­ http://www.pril­

More craftse­men and women

Bethan Jarvis, North Wales Sil­ver jew­eller of minia­ture farm an­i­mals

“I work from a unit at a maker’s yard in the grounds of Glyn­l­li­fon man­sion, near Caernar­fon, North Wales. I grad­u­ated from Glyn­dwr Univer­sity in 2015, with an Ap­plied Arts & De­sign (wood, glass & jew­ellery) de­gree. In the third year I started the col­lec­tion ‘One man and his dog’, orig­i­nally meant to be an au­tom­ata piece from wood and sil­ver; but, as a twist, some items were wear­able jew­ellery - the sheep pen would be a bracelet, a tree a neck­lace. I am con­stantly work­ing on the de­sign and added a Farm­yard Col­lec­tion of pigs, cows and horses. My hand­made jew­ellery uses a va­ri­ety of tech­niques from sil­ver­smithing, wax carv­ing and cast­ing.

“My grand­par­ents owned a hill­side farm in North Wales, a five-minute walk from my home and I spent a lot of time on the farm ‘help­ing’ them. They were the best grand­par­ents a child could ever dream of hav­ing. We used to col­lect peas, car­rots and pota­toes for tea from the field, I used to help muck out the cow sheds, feed­ing moth­er­less lambs, help move sheep from the farm to fields in the next vil­lage. Dur­ing school hol­i­days I would go with my grand­fa­ther to live­stock sales or take cat­tle or sheep to the slaugh­ter house in Caernar­fon. When I was six I had a pet chicken called Hoppy, I used to wrap her in a blan­ket and take her for a walk in my toy pram. Mem­o­ries, very fond mem­o­ries, are the foun­da­tions be­hind my work.”

Ian McKay, Bath Toy­maker

“I call my­self a ‘toy­maker’ which sounds pleas­ingly un­com­pli­cated, some­times a ‘maker of me­chan­i­cal toys’. They are toys for grownups or at least for the child in­side ev­ery adult. They mostly de­rive from things I’ve seen; some­times from my pet hates - plant pests and dis­eases be­ing

a ma­jor pre­oc­cu­pa­tion. I use a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als, par­tic­u­larly wood, wire, string and found ob­jects with a sort of min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion. For ex­am­ple, wood may be split or cut or used ex­actly as it is found, coloured or left nat­u­ral; smoothed or worked with a knife or gouge. What I re­ally like about toy­mak­ing is that there are no rules – if it works, it’s OK!

“I trained as a designer, spe­cial­is­ing ini­tially in ce­ram­ics and glass but the qual­i­ties of dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als have al­ways fas­ci­nated me. I didn’t re­ally know how to turn this in­ter­est into an actual thing! I can pin my ob­ses­sion with toys to two events: In 1981 there was an ex­hi­bi­tion of the work of Sam Smith at the Ser­pen­tine Gallery in Lon­don, a sort of fa­ther fig­ure to Bri­tish toy­mak­ers. He was mak­ing highly fin­ished, beau­ti­fully carved and painted ob­jects that were hard to de­fine; toys that were also sculp­tures, with a strong sense of nar­ra­tive. We also had a lec­ture from toy­maker Peter Markey; I had never met any­one who seemed to be hav­ing so much fun and who was so ir­rev­er­ent about the whole busi­ness of mak­ing. I wanted to do that too.

“As well as drift­wood I use a va­ri­ety of Bri­tish hard­woods: oak, ash, chest­nut, cherry and lime and when I can find them, fruit woods like ap­ple and pear. I use a cou­ple of lo­cal wood yards for larger amounts but of­ten find woody presents left on the doorstep from friends and neigh­bours. I also use with­ies grown lo­cally on the Som­er­set Lev­els.

“We live on the Som­er­set/Wilt­shire bor­der, on the edge of a vil­lage, in the beau­ti­ful Lim­p­ley Stoke val­ley. Some hor­ti­cul­tural train­ing, a few years ago, has given me a last­ing in­ter­est in grow­ing plants, par­tic­u­larly veg­gies and fruit trees. We’ve kept sheep and hens for many years and I do love a good shed! The hens in ‘Peck­ing Or­der’ are por­traits of three of our long­est last­ing in­mates. All these el­e­ments feed back into the work.”

Prilly Lewis, Lon­don Ma­chine knit­ter and felt maker

“I work from home in my flat in Lon­don. I use a knit­ting ma­chine to make lengths of fab­ric us­ing Bri­tish spun lamb­swool on a loose ten­sion. The pieces are felted in the wash­ing ma­chine which makes them shrink and turns it into a com­pact, very soft, cosy fab­ric. It’s mostly the fric­tion whilst wash­ing that causes the wool to shrink and partly the tem­per­a­ture. I cut the felted pieces into shapes and patch­work them to­gether as in­lay patch­work, stitch­ing them di­rectly to each other with no seam al­lowances or back­ing fab­ric, so that the fin­ished sur­face is flat rather than raised as it would be with ap­pliqué.

“I’m in­spired by en­caus­tic tiles, es­pe­cially the ones that lead up to door­ways of Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian houses; there is one lead­ing up to the en­trance of my home. I love the geo­met­ric de­signs and take these tra­di­tional pat­terns and up­date them with con­tem­po­rary colour com­bi­na­tions.

“I buy my lamb­swool from a fam­ily of spin­ners based in York­shire, who have been in busi­ness for 200 years, and I’m cur­rently re­search­ing sourc­ing ap­pro­pri­ate wool di­rect from small scale sheep keep­ers too.

“I make blan­kets and cush­ions as they re­ally suit the felted fab­ric. The blan­kets are also used as cur­tains for win­dows and doors, wall hang­ings and room di­viders; both use­ful and dec­o­ra­tive. I think of the blan­kets are heir­loom pieces.”

A bracelet by Bethan Jarvis

A blan­ket br Prilly Lewis IN­SET: Prilly with her work

Ian McKay at work in his stu­dio

The Peck­ing Or­der – a sculp­ture by Ian McKay

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