As we celebrate Craft and Design Month in May, we take a look at the wealth of talent in West Wales, and opportunities for us to broaden our own skills.
Mention ‘craft and design’ to many people, particularly in relation to rural communities such as West Wales, and a certain image comes to mind – of older women crocheting, knitting or sewing. This image is at odds with the vibrancy of craft and design that exists in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire – from the home crafters and hobbyists, to talented designer-makers having a national impact.
No one can deny the richness and breadth of design talent in West Wales. Not long ago, we wrote about Clare Johns Label (formerly Mrs J Pembrokeshire. Since our article back in 2016, this talented seamstress has further proved her mettle showing her latest collection at London Fashion Week 2017, and being selected to work with Gok Wan at his Fashion Club Brunch in Cardiff
From her workshop near Narberth, Pembrokeshire, Gaynor Howell wears two hats – as designer and maker of bespoke leather handbags, and tutor of leatherwork skills through Leather Courses Britain. Pembrokeshire born and bred, Gaynor sees herself and her business as preserving and sharing heritage skills that will otherwise be lost. She is running an open day at her workshop near Narberth on 20th May to encourage people to come along and find out more about what she does, and how they can learn more about leather working, and develop their own design talent.
“I’m keen to encourage people to search their own creativity. Our courses are designed so that people are involved in the process from the start, designing, developing and making. The result is an individual piece for each person”
Asking Gaynor what makes West Wales such a hive of design talent, she considers
“Here, we seem to have the time; everything is slower. And the slow pace of life gives us room to design, to think, to make.”
West Wales is home to several talented sculptors, such as nationally acclaimed Gideon Petersen of Creative Spiral and Aberporth based Paul Clarke whose work can be found throughout the area and further afield. West Wales is also home to talents such as award-winning furniture designer Ben Cramp who runs Jam Furniture from Cardigan, whose industrial influenced design can be found in Borough Market and the new Etsy headquarters. A vibrant design landscape indeed.
Crafting too is alive and thriving in West Wales
Of course, West Wales is also home to a wealth of more traditional ‘crafters’, and this is also, rightly, celebrated in the area. Make it in Wales is a relatively new business based on the Carmarthenshire/Ceredigion border, curates a range of high end craft courses throughout West Wales, and encourages people to indulge their creative side. Courses cover pit firing, paper cutting, shibori dyeing, upholstery, sculpture and dressmaking, and are held in venues throughout Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
Not only is West Wales the perfect place to explore and develop skills, but there’s a thriving market for well-made craft pieces as collectives such as Crafters Cwtch in Cardigan demonstrate. The boom in internet selling with platforms such as Etsy also make it easy for people to sell their creations to an ever-widening audience – not just to a local audience.
Supporting local designer-makers, during Craft and Design Month – and beyond
Craft and Design Month brings together a wide variety of craft and design events under one banner. The ‘umbrella event’ aims to raise awareness of fine British craft and design, and to encourage people to support their local artists and makers. This article only dips a toe into craft and design in West Wales – and the more we support local designer makers, not only do we support our local economy, we’ll contribute to the diversity and interest in our communities. It’s something Your Local Crowd is keen to support – practically in the form of marketing services as well as shouting about local design stories.
Mrs J Pembrokeshire
Leather Courses Britain Open Day 20th May
Read our guides here.
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