In Cornwall, we are so lucky to be surrounded by so many talented and creative makers. Our scenery and community is one that inspires us every day!
Anya Rice and Katherine Sorrell take the time to share an insight into their new lifestyle book, 'Make: Cornwall' which celebrates 25 modern craftspeople in the South West.
The book features all kinds of crafts from jewellery, ceramics, woodwork to digital embroidery! With stunning photography of makers in their workspaces, this book gives us a chance to go behind the scenes and get to know the creative processes and workspaces of designers.
We're thrilled to see makers across the South West be featured and supported for their hard word, contemporary designs and sustainable methods. Read our interview with the authors and creators of Make: Cornwall below, find out where the inspiration came from, what you can expect from the book and whether there could be another in the future... We also get to meet the incredible jewellers featured in the book too!
Make: Cornwall is a book about modern craft in Cornwall. It’s a hardback coffee table book with sumptuous photography and intriguing text. We peek inside the makers' studios and offer a taste of who they are, how they work and the beautiful things that they make.
We’re inspired by this beautiful county and the incredible creativity that springs from it, and we really wanted to show off the diversity of high-quality craft that is coming out of Cornwall. The work is modern, desirable, sustainable, and sometimes really surprising (sunglasses made from recycled denim, anyone?). As well as showing off our selection of makers to all and sundry, we really wanted to smash any misconceptions that makers in Cornwall might be a bit behind the times, or only focussed on traditional craft. Basically, we want to promote contemporary craft and we want to promote Cornwall, and if we can do both at the same time, fantastic!
Beautiful. Inspiring. Surprising.
Anyone who has an interest in the hand-made, who loves fashion or interiors, who is keen on Cornwall, who loves to look at beautiful photography or who is intrigued to find out more about contemporary craft.
Anya: I’m from the deep South in the States, I studied photography at Gwinnett Technical College and soon after I graduated, I met my now husband in Atlanta, Georgia and eventually we moved London, then Oxford and finally Cornwall.
My husband Ben is a photographer too and has done some fantastic landscapes for the book. Ben had been working as a freelance photographer for some years before me and showed me the ropes of how to run a freelance business and we’ve been working together ever since. I now shoot editorial and commercial interiors projects and am lucky enough to work with Katherine on lots of my features.
Katherine: I was born and brought up in London, studied English in Manchester, then did a journalism training course and started my career as a reporter on a local daily paper in Essex, literally covering everything from scout jumble sales to escaped murderers. I worked (briefly) at the BBC, at a cartoon newspaper and as freelance sub-editor for a variety of magazines, from Vogue to Mother & Baby and TV Times.
I ended up, having done some maternity cover at Elle Decoration, with a wonderful job as features editor at Homes & Gardens, before moving to Cornwall (I came on holiday nearly 20 years ago and fell in love with it) and going freelance again. Now I mainly work for the homes titles, writing about interior design and people’s houses - which is where Anya and I came across each other.
Claire Thorp’s eco-conscious jewellery business is called Pica Pica, which means ‘magpie’ in Latin. She scours junk shops, vintage fairs and local beaches for interesting components to include in her understated range, and assembles them intuitively, transforming them into bespoke items that juxtapose their weathered textures with a clean, minimal and modern aesthetic. Claire works from her studio in Penryn.
We have selected 25 makers - which was really difficult, because there are so many wonderful people to choose from and we would have loved to have included lots more. All sorts of crafts are represented, including jewellery (from precious metals to salvaged beach plastic), ceramics, woodwork, textiles, dyeing, leatherwork, book-binding, digital embroidery and more.
It’s been great! For the most part, we have been in sync with one another, but where we have felt differently to one another, we have always worked out an amicable compromise.
Our first photo shoot for the book was in March last year, but we spent about a year before that planning it.
At the back of our minds we had a bit of a mantra: people, places, process, products. We wanted to show all of these, while also creating attractive, modern imagery that’s just delicious to look at.
Anya: I’m a keen beachcomber, and I like to make sea glass mobiles in my spare time from the treasures I pick up from the beaches.
Katherine: Swimming in the sea. It’s so joyful and invigorating, and I love the hard-to-find coves and beaches that don’t get too busy, even in the summer.
Abi Wason runs Deer & Shine from a tiny shed that she built in her back garden. She makes elegant, edgy, minimal pieces that are inspired by geometric shapes, in a mix of textures and materials. Abi loves working with brass and gold, and also uses gemstones and crystals in some of her necklaces.
The scenery is so jaw-droopingly beautiful, it inspires people in all sorts of ways, whether it’s the colours of the sea, the sky, the fields, the gorse, and so on, or the patterns within the landscapes and the industrial heritage of mine shafts and machinery. It’s also simply the fresh air and sense of space - the ability to think freely, not being caught up in stressful cross-city commutes while breathing in polluted air, jammed up against loads of other people.
There is also a lot of support for creatives down here, in the forms of the many further education colleges and, of course, Falmouth University, and fantastic organisations like Cultivator and the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Fund, who have been very helpful to us and to many of the makers featured in the book.
Generally, we would arrive at their studio first thing in the morning armed with camera, tripod and reflector (never artificial lighting, we only use natural light) and assess the space, working out where the light fell best and what would be the most interesting angles. We asked the makers to have a good tidy up before we arrived - it’s a case of presenting their best selves to the world! We’d ask about their tools and processes, to ensure we covered everything, and then spend time capturing a standalone portrait of the maker, then shots of them at work, close-ups of their equipment and their work in progress, and of course their finished products. Each shoot took around four hours - it was time-consuming because we were very careful to set each shot up so it looked beautiful, while also being representative of the maker and their work.
Raising the finances in advance in order to pay for the design, editing, printing and marketing has definitely been a challenge. We did a round of fund-raising via Crowdfunder, and are about to do a second one - the principle was to ask for pre-orders, which we will fulfil once the book is published in July.
It’s wonderful. There is such a lovely network of people who collaborate and support each other.
Sarah Drew makes statement jewellery from found materials such as beach plastic, ghostnet and driftwood, combined with textured eco-silver, recycled brass and gold and sustainable semi-precious stones. She goes to the beach every day, where she collects things she uses for her jewellery, and often uses textile techniques such as crochet and ‘stitching’ with wire to join her found pieces. She works in a studio at St Austell college.
It’s been a real privilege, and absolutely fascinating. We have really enjoyed meeting and getting to know everyone involved. And we would advise everyone to go to Open Studios Cornwall - which runs from 25th May to 2nd June this year. It’s always wonderful to talk to makers and artists, and find out more about them and their work - some people feel that craft is expensive, but when you understand the hard work, training, experience, passion and integrity that goes into it you just appreciate it so much more.
Self-publishing is hard! And everything takes a lot longer than you think it’s going to.
Yes, absolutely. We’d love to turn this into a series. If any publishers or businesses out there would like to work with us - please let us know!