I finally got along to The New Craftsmen in London last weekend. The Mayfair shop contains work from over seventy of Britain's makers in a beautiful space which was, at one time, a leather goods workshop. Alongside the finished pieces, craftspeople design and make work, giving visitors a chance to understand the materials, skills and processes that go in to some of the objects on sale.
Some of my favourite makers from Scotland are involved including Hannah McAndrew (pottery), Ebba Goring (jewellery), Scarlett Cohen French (jewellery) and Grant McCaig (silver). Shetland is represented with work from Mati Ventrillon (knitwear), who was recently featured in my article on Fair Isle for a special knit edition of Selvedge. Orkney features too with sheepskins from Isle of Auskerry. Hooray for amazing craft from all over the UK under the one roof.
It's the presence and visibility of materials and craftspeople that makes this place really special. Seeing and hearing the process and watching objects come into being means that it's almost impossible to leave without something. I would have happily gone home with Dalston-based Gareth Neal's Brogdar, a modern take on the Orkney chair. But, alas, it was not to be.
I fell in love with some silk fish stuffed with gorgeous lavender by Rose de Borman. Rose hand paints on silk, drawing inspiration from folk-art and traditional techniques inspired by her day-job sourcing antique fabrics. Choosing between them was tough. In the end I went for a lovely little guy that looks like a mackerel (perhaps not a surprising choice for a Shetlander) who is now happy and at home on our Edinburgh fireplace.