Cheltenham Crafts Festival

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Last Friday I took the train out of London from Paddington Station to Cheltenham Spa, Gloucestershire.

Arriving in the cold, pouring rain, I hopped on a bus to the city centre admiring the regency style architecture along the way. In the 18th Century a spring was discovered in Cheltenham, attracting Kings, Queens, noble men and women for it's medicinal waters. This instigated a building flurry of infrastructure to house and entertain these aristocratic visitors. Most notable was the tree-lined promenade where visitors strolled amongst the trees to see and to be seen.

Nowadays, with it's smart shops and restaurants Cheltenham is most well known for it's horse racing festival.  However, last Friday it was not the race horses that I was there to see, but some fine craft makers. The town was playing host to the Cheltenham Craft Festival at the neo-classical Cheltenham Town Hall.  

The Craft Festival Cheltenham is a not-for-profit event organised by Sarah James and her team. In partnership were The Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsman, Unit Twelve, Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre and Find a Maker.

Over 80 makers were selected to participate in the three day event.  Potters, silversmiths, leatherworkers, weavers, jewellers, woodworkers,  glass artists and metalworkers had come from all over the country to display their wares to the general public. The quality of craftsmanship was outstanding.

Alison Taylor brought colourful knitted hats, scarves and coats inspired by Nordic and Celtic patterns. Alison's fabulous designs have previously sold in world famous department stores including Saks and Bloomingdales in New York, Takashimaya in Japan and Liberty and Browns in London.

Alison Taylor Knitwear

Alison Taylor Knitwear

On Pippin Scott Leather Works stall were brightly coloured, handcrafted bags. Each bag is made from vegetable tanned leather, hand-stitched and lined with luxurious fabrics. Paula Eastman, the owner of the company and the designer and creator of the bags originally trained as a shoe maker before honing her skills as a bag maker. Paula makes these bags to last and hopes that they will become heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.

Pippin Scott Leather Works

Pippin Scott Leather Works

On Lisa Gibson's stall were also luxury handbags. Using bold colour combinations of Harris Tweed fabric, each bag is hand cut, hand sewn and lined with complimentary 100% cotton.

handbag, Lisa Gibson

Lisa Gibson

Nick Membery brought stoneware pottery in earthy shades of blue, green and brown. Nick has a studio in Carmarthenshire where he has been making pots for nearly 20 years. "My pots are intended for use, but most of all I want them to be enjoyed.  I now fire with wood and increasingly use local and unique raw materials which are gathered right here at Ysgubor Wair to decorate my pots and make the glazes. These include clay from the ditch, wood ash from the wood burner and granite dust from the driveway. This adds an individual and beautiful natural variation to my work. I consider my pots to be the antithesis of mass production and consumerism." 

Nick Membery Pottery

Mark Dally brought a range of black and white patterned slip-decorated earthenware including tableware and sculptural ceramics. Mark originally trained in textiles transferring these skills to surface pattern and ceramic making. 

Mark Dally Ceramics

Mark Dally Ceramics

Maggie Williams brought mouth blown glass vases in a multitude of colours. Maggie finds working with glass a combination of 'bewitching, challenging and often frustrating'. The end result makes a fabulous display.

Maggie Williams glass vases

Maggie Williams Glass

The next Crafts Festival will take place in Bovey Tracey from 17 - 19 June.  Over 200 makers will display their wares. Workshops, demonstrations, special features, music and feasting will also be on offer. To book your tickets visit





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