I work in a brand-new studio space above my home in Bowlish, Shepton Mallet, in the heart of Somerset. Bowlish is one of three hamlets that were the centre of farming and cloth production from the Middle Ages until the turn of the 20th century.
These hamlets made a vital contribution to the area’s economy over hundreds of years, employing thousands of local people. What started as coarse woollen cloth production changed to fine-quality silk production following the influx of the Huguenots in around 1550.
My house is a Grade II listed building with a rich history dating from the 1700s. The studio was created in 2021 from an entirely disused space on the top floor of the house which appears to have been directly linked to a large adjoining mill. During the 1830s, the dwelling house absorbed its industrial features and became a private residence.
The studio is light and airy with plenty of windows, and has been opened up into the eaves, exposing the original roof timbers. Two of the six windows feature newly commissioned stained glass, made by a neighbour in his local workshop. These have been installed into stone frames that had been blocked up for many years. The walls have been rendered with traditional lime plaster which is porous and helps to stabilise the internal humidity of the space by absorbing and releasing moisture.
The floor of the studio was reinforced with extra joists to safely support my cast iron board chopper (with an estimated weight of 500kg) in one corner. My workspace also boasts a brand-new Piccadilly laying press, made by James Oliver at Olive and Oak; a blocking press and type; two nipping presses and a well-stocked armoury of tools and equipment – from jewellery piercing saws to sewing machines!
PRIVATE TUITION AT THE STUDIO
I run weekly private tuition in the studio for up to four students. This is geared towards guiding students through their own personal bookbinding projects from start to finish.
GROUP WORKSHOPS AT THE STUDIO
There is space for up to eight students for specific tutor-led workshops. Options include:
- Leather onlays, inlays and scarf-jointing
- Making your own bookbinding finishing tools
- Embroidered leather notebooks
- Soft-covered paper notebooks
- Making origami paper flowers
- Weaving a hot air balloon
- Creating a garland of origami baubles
- How to ‘paint’ with embroidery threads
Some of the group workshops are portable so if you’d like me come and teach your group please get in touch.
For details and prices of any of the tuition I offer, please contact me directly.
If you don’t live locally I can additionally offer self-catering holiday-let accommodation in the annex that adjoins our house, Grange Cottage. We also have holiday let accommodation in the city of Wells, which is just a ten minute drive from my studio in Bowlish. Please visit our ‘Stay Wells and Somerset’ website for more details.