Sebastian Cox

I am a designer-maker. I use award-winning design and exquisite craftsmanship to turn lesser-known and underestimated British wood into beautiful and useful objects; grown in Britain, designed in Britain and made in Britain.

I want to change people's minds about British wood, design,...Read more

Sarah Goss 

Sarah specialises in providing bespoke hand carved items ranging from lettering and relief decoration to producing architectural details such as corbel brackets and ceiling roses.

After graduating in 2008 from Portsmouth University in Restoration & Decorative studies Sarah started...Read more

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Maker in Focus: Jane Crisp

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Date of publishing: 
Monday 7 January 2019
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In this month’s Maker in Focus interview, we spoke to trug maker Jane Crisp about her love for wood from a young age, her inspiration from nature, how she uses boat builder’s techniques and the importance of pushing boundaries through experimentation as a craftsperson.

Jane Crisp’s is part of the maker community at The Room Service, her work was featured at the talk and demonstration, “Canapés, Ceramics & Conversation: with Roux Scholar Dan Cox and The Room Service” during LCW 2018.

LCW: What is your background?

JC: I’ve always loved making and I have been drawn to wood from a young age. I travelled quite a lot when I was younger and then after settling down in Norfolk, I began to educate myself with the skills I needed to realise my designs. I went to college and then Bucks New Uni and studied furniture design and craft. I graduated and set up my business making trugs from borrowed spaces. I now live in Hale Fen, Cambridgeshire working from my home studio and lovely purpose-built workshop.    


LCW: How have you developed your career? Was there a pivotal moment that drew you to your craft?

JC: My pivotal moment or DNA of my practice happened when I lived on a boat. I started making things to help me live and I was inspired by the nature that surrounded me. I became interested in tradition and evolutionary crafts. My trugs are a direct example of this moment, they are built using boat-builder’s techniques, steam-bending and clinker construction, the components shapes are inspired by the reeds that line the fields and rivers and if you catch them in the wind they will rock like boats.

I got my work out there entering competitions and exhibiting at shows. I was a Crafts Council Hothouse participant. Being under the Crafts Council umbrella really helped and I got coverage in lots of magazines and won awards at shows. I have built relationships with some great companies most recently started working with a wonderful new company called The Room Service who sell beautiful pieces of craft, as seen in design-led spaces such as hotels and restaurants. They really understand what I do and portray the special details in my designs perfectly. Being involved with them and being a part of their incredible curation has really built my confidence and propelled me in the craft world. It seems to have snowballed and lots of new and exciting opportunities have appeared for my business.


LCW: What does your typical day look like?

JC: I start with a coffee and check my weekly planner and work out what making I have to do during the day. I sit and check my emails and notifications, slurping my coffee whilst adding jobs to my lists. I run around the house tidying up and then open the workshop, always by nine or before, I get the heater on and clean, hoover and set up for making. I’m already in the zone by this point, I feel more relaxed now I’m outside and there’s pace, enthusiasm and rhythm to my work. I have to balance this though with focus like any practise or discipline. I try to come in from my workshop by five, light a fire cook, eat and work on my designs and my laptop.    

LCW: What role does craft and making have in society?

JC: Craft says something, reminds you of something, craft creates dialect, an emotional language of its own. It’s engineering solutions to aid living and something that’s treasured and passed down through thousands of years of evolution. It brings biophilic design to interiors, connects us to nature and brings culture, personality and joy to our lives. It challenges our thinking and pushes new limits. Most of all though it brings people together as they share knowledge, craft stories and enthusiasm.    


LCW: How long does it take for someone to really build confidence in their craft?

JC: I am building confidence in my craft and it's hugely satisfying. I don’t know if it ever fully happens but I’m sure this is part of the attraction. It’s like figuring things out all the time and pushing things further so it grows and never ends. I began by pushing traditional craft practises to expose the properties of materials and create the “how-did-you-do-that” factor. At university, I made a steam-bent desk called the paper trail of life. There were no uprights and the piece relied on triangulating the joints for structural strength. I asked my tutor if he thought it would work and he said I don’t know. It worked and I sold the piece but this way of working has a lot of unknowns. It creates identity within my work but also loads of experimentation and product development work.


LCW: What are the positives/negatives about being a craftsperson? 

JC: Every day when I get outside and into my workshop, I feel grateful that I’m able to make for a living. I go a little crazy if don’t make and when I do I’m at my best. I really hate spiders and I can be isolated at my busiest times.  

LCW: What’s one thing you would most like to own?

JC: A wood with a river connected to the waterway system and a mooring with a narrow boat. I would use the timber to make my work, coppice, manage the woodland, forage and build a big tree house cabin. I would, of course, need a pole lathe, workshop and wind turbine with water on sight. It would be something to nurture, preserve and pass down. 


LCW: Is there another career path that you could have chosen? 

JC: I have been a volunteer at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk for nearly a year and I love it. I’m a Conservation Assistant working close up with the collection. The more I’ve become a part of the story of Oxburgh the more I’ve fallen in love with the house. I’ve gained knowledge through amazing National Trust courses and inspiration creatively. I’ve got three new sculptures and a product range based on the house that I will be releasing next year to help raise money for the Raise the Roof restoration project happening in 2019. I love getting close up with the craftsmanship and I actually love learning about history and preserving it for the future.


LCW: Do you have someone that you idolize? Craftsperson or otherwise. 

JC: Sebastian Cox is someone I really look up to. He was a mentor for me during the Hothouse program. I saw some of his sketches and technical drawings at a presentation and they were fascinating. I love the way he pushes new processes and creates a strong identity. He is also a woodsman, an extremely talented maker and a great businessman too.


LCW: What is craft to you? What does it represent?

JC: Craft for me is my place to go, a place where I can truly be myself. It’s who I am and I am my craft. It’s my respect for materials and an expression of myself. I go to craft to celebrate and create but also to be in the now and forget everything else. Craft represents thoughts of others, tales and mythologies passed down. It represents history and amplifies tales of eras, technologies, scientific developments and cultural beliefs.  

Bobby Mills

Bobby Mills is a self-taught woodworker based in the South Downs National Park. Blending both traditional and modern techniques, Mills creates wooden pieces that are entirely made by hand using a woodturning lathe. Every piece begins with wood that is locally and sustainably sourced from either...Read more

Eleanor Lakelin

British woodturner Eleanor Lakelin has a deep knowledge and a passionate interest in the natural properties of the wood she works with. Brought up in rural Wales, Lakelin worked in educational projects in Europe and West Africa before retraining as a cabinet-maker in 1995. Since 2011 she has...Read more

Gareth Neal

Gareth Neal is a celebrated designer whose practice combines the technical modes of 3D computer drawing and CNC processes, with the intricacies of traditional professional craftsmanship. His work has received critical acclaim and has featured in numerous publications and exhibitions, both in the...Read more

Emma Lacey & Jack Trench

Emma Lacey designs and makes ceramic tableware from her studio in North London. Much of her work is currently hand thrown using a fine stoneware clay and then assembled, manipulated or finished to fully express the tactility and function of each piece. Her most recent project has taken the...Read more

Jane Crisp

Jane is an international award-winning artist working from her home studio and workshop surrounded by beautiful countryside in Hale Fen, Cambridgeshire.

Her designs are made to use and love, amplifying traditional techniques in a contemporary way, experimenting with the methodologies of...Read more

Nicholas Shurey

British architect turned sculptor Nicholas Shurey resides in Copenhagen. His beautifully carved wooden sculptures are designed for small spaces and sit somewhere between furniture and stand-alone objects. His work has a playful functionality, from his Little Lady sculpture in Danish maple, which...Read more

Kaori Takahashi and Mark McGil

Based in Torquay, Devon, the husband and wife team behind Takahashi McGil create functional bowls, pouring bowls and rice spoons made from local hardwoods. Mark McGil met Kaori Takahashi, who moved to the UK from Japan to study, while studying Fine Art at the Wimbledon School of Art. Though they...Read more

Max Bainbridge

Born in London in 1991, Max Bainbridge studied Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art, where he graduated in 2013 as a photographer and sculptor. Based in London, he runs his studio collective Forest + Found with his partner Abigail Booth, that looks at landscape as a site of exchange between...Read more

Nic Webb

British maker Nic Webb’s sculptural pieces are born of a desire to work with wood instinctively in an attempt to free his work from the convention and perception of the made object. Using traditional tools, modern methods as well as elemental forces such as fire, ice, air and water he shapes and...Read more

Wycliffe Stutchbury

Maker Wycliffe Stutchbury studied at the London College of Furniture and later graduated from Brighton University with a BA Hons in 3D Craft in 2003. In the same year, he co-founded the Blue Monkey Studio, a collective of Eastbourne based artists. In 2018 he was shortlisted for the Loewe Craft...Read more

Robert Brain

RHMB was founded by Robert Brain, an extraordinary cabinet maker with an eye for sourcing traditionally unused woods such as London Plane and Lacewood. Robert combines his background as a Philosophy graduate with over three decade’s experience in the luxury interiors market to bring a meticulous...Read more

Steve Cook

Steve Cook is a London based designer maker of furniture and objects in wood.

“I love the variety and challenges involved in commissioned work from private clients, architects and public bodies through to collaborations with artists and fellow makers.”

 “The desire to realise my...Read more

Ted Jefferis

Ted Jefferis grew up in a wooden house surrounded by an ancient oak woodland. The son of a boatbuilder. Ted trained as a cabinet maker, he then studied at the Oxford school of architecture where he graduated in 2009. After his formal education, he began making bespoke furniture From his fourth...Read more

Yoon Hyun Jin

Yoon Hyun Jin’s pieces reflect moments of individual experience of solitude, struggle, joy and contemplation. The charming anonymity of her figures captured in the raw material of the carved wood enables a projection of one's own experience into the pieces. She captures the peaceful meditative...Read more

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235 Years of Craftsmanship with Smedley: Daniel Harrison

News category: 
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Date of publishing: 
Tuesday 19 November 2019
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Continuing our partnership with John Smedley in celebration of their 235-year anniversary, we are delighted to bring you the story of another craft ambassador: Daniel Harrison. 

Based in Swansea, South Wales, Daniel Harrison is a designer-maker of bespoke furniture creating free-standing and fitted pieces. He has been commissioned to create other work including large sculptural carvings, staircases, fine boxes and other products made using locally sourced sustainable woods.

Daniel originally trained in Art & Design and subsequently staircase manufacture; combining his love for these and his love for wood to produce bespoke furniture.

Having completed a three-year course in furniture making and design at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Oxford, Daniel is able with QEST’S support, to continue his training with Philip Koomen Furniture in south Oxfordshire. The scholarship will allow Daniel to learn from Philip’s team and produce a new body of speculative and commissioned work.

Daniel explains that one of the biggest challenges he faces within his career is global warming and the increasing number of trees lost due to disease, for example, the ash dye back and acute oak decline; we are at risk of losing some of the most iconic trees species. Daniel is a craftsman that uses native woodland timber for his work, so for him, this is the biggest challenge.

Unit 3

From the founders of Baines & Fricker is Unit 3, a collection of unique and limited edition furniture and home accessories. Fusing traditional woodworking craftsmanship with illustration and textiles, Unit 3's launch collection will debut at the London Design Festival, September '19....Read more

Darren Appiagyei

After a degree in 3D Design at Camberwell College of Arts, Darren Appiagyei founded his studio in 2017 with the support of the Worshipful Company of Turners. He takes inspiration for his contemporary turned wooden vessels from the pieces he finds on regular trips to Woodlands Farm in southeast...Read more