Made In Great Britain
It was a a real privilege to be involved in the recent BBC2 TV series Made in Great Britain. I have a huge appreciation of other makers and their talents so it was a great opportunity to meet like minded people and share our collective passion for our crafts. I also think it’s so important to celebrate the great industries that we were renowned for and the places and people that really made them. Unfortunately most of them don’t exist on the scale they once did, but I’m optimistic of the resurgence in craft and make and new industries that may develop out of this.
Trying my hand at traditional shoemaking at Trickers in Northampton was a bit of a dream come true. As soon as I stepped inside the factory I could sense the dedicated to this great tradition of shoemaking. In particular I loved the bespoke element of the business where each pair of shoes can take up to 3 weeks to make by hand. I really resonated with the dedicated to traditional skills and the sheer beauty and quality of the finished product. The skill and craftsmanship is second to none and you could feel the passion and great sense of pride by everyone who works there.
Although I’m a leatherworker, shoemaking was new to me and very different from my own practice, in particular working with a last and forming over a solid object. There were some similarities in the tools – the awl was a key tool then and is now and the traditional hand stitching was similar – however my life is made easier now through the use of needles instead of a boar bristle.
Overall, I took away from the series the importance of continuing traditional methods but combining them with a modern approach and technology. Having a forward thinking approach is the only way traditional craft will survive.