Category Archives: Craft

Brickett Davda


This lovely new film by Mark Bader is about Brickett Davda, one of the ceramicists that we stock at Black Bough. Jo talks about starting out making ceramics on her kitchen table; it almost feels as if I have known her since those days . . . but by the time I first met her (17 years ago) she was already a force to be reckoned with and stocking the Conran shop amongst others. The form of her work and method of production can still be traced back to those days but the decorative form has become more and more pure.



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Charankattu Coir Mats

I spent a day this week going around the multifarious antiques emporiums of Leominster – why Leominster is a hot bed of antiques trade is beyond my ken – to little avail. Only in the last centre, on a final trail of the final aisle did I find something that I wanted.

As per the photos, presented to Mr Ian Smith on the occasion of his tour of the Charankattu Coir Mat co. factory almost 56 years to the day, an album of hand painted samples of the different mats that the company made.









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A Black Bough wedding invite . . . nb. not ours

Within the first few weeks of Black Bough opening we chanced upon some old stock, fold-out Ludlow postcards – one set from the 50s and sepia and the other set in glorious 60s technicolour. There was a veritable pile of these things – all sitting in the window of a distinctly old school newsagents and most of them sunbleached or covered in dust. Reader, we bought them.

They’ve sold consistently and when they’ve all sold – they will have all sold. I dare say that it is not economically viable for us to try and reproduce them.

One of our friends is getting married later this year and being somewhat handy with paper restoration (and thus undaunted by the scruffier end of our selection) she decided to use the sepia fold-out postcards as the basis of her wedding invitation. She’s done a lovely job.

Note – important info omitted from invite to prevent the vast readership of this blog from turning up at the designated venue for a free lunch . . . . you know who you are!

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Natasha Laflin – charity auction/raffle

My recent blog posts have all included personal anecdotes; at the risk of over-sharing, this one is going to top them all. This Friday a charity auction and raffle is being held in London to raise funds for my friend Natasha Laflin. A hugely talented craftsperson, Natasha’s life (and those of her family and friends) took a sudden shift 4 years ago when she had a massive brain haemmorhage. Initially admitted to hospital in Paddington and then to the Royal Neurological Hospital, Natasha’s prognosis was pretty grim. It has since got much better. She was moved to the National Hospital for Neurological Disability (where she staunchly suffered the indignity of being sung to by the Great Western Singers – I apologise, we were on less than good form that day!) and from then to two successive rehabilitation homes. The past 4 years have been far from easy, or indeed smooth. Natasha’s health has improved and then regressed again on a number of occasions but, following the withdrawal of one of her drugs she has moved on massively and consistently. Her family and friends now believe that the best place for Natasha’s further care is back at her home and that . . . good reader . . . is the reason for the raffle/auction.

Natasha has always been a community person. Great Western Studios was one of the communities that she played a huge part in – often by means of being the first person at the café in the morning (peanut butter on toasted bagel from memory) – and by valuing the friendship and support of her fellows artists and craftspeople and repaying that friendship and support similarly.


I have three pieces of Natasha’s work at home. The watch seller was a commission for Alex – her research was impeccable – Alex can name the make and model of the millimetre high watches. The rabbit was a gift – my first semi-house rabbit had his own cushion and was treated royally. Alex bought Amor Perdido from Tash at an Open Studios. Natasha’s artistic output is seeing light again. An exhibition of the works in the auction has already been installed at the new Great Western Studios by her partner Sid and Tash tweeted on Monday that she was going to see it on Tuesday and with typical self-abasement that she was worried about seeing her own work.

The raffle and auction (which is being taken by Anne Robinson – her of the telly) includes some great lots and some great prizes (the odds on the raffle are pretty good as well). If you fancy your luck, or indeed fancy contributing to the appeal to get Natasha back living amongst her community, family and friends then the website for all of this can point you in the direction of doing so.

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Red Phone Green Phone

Back in the day Kate Gibb and I had a running joke regarding using a mobile phone which grew out of a conversation she had had with a client in Japan. When I say joke we are stretching the limits of what anyone would find amusing but stick with me . . . we did.

Things have come full circle; Kate’s only gone and designed a really lovely couple of iPhone covers (other smart phones do exist etc. etc.) and very nice they are too. You’ll have to have a pretty good grasp of Japanese if you want to order one though . . . from here.

One of these prints is part derived from a box of playshapes that Kate covets massively – she’s deployed them before. They feature on her cover for My Computer’s No CV – a record that turned precisely no-one’s world upside down but which should have done. My Computer was the source of another long running joke – but I’ll save that one for a rainy day.


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“Linotype: The Film” Official Trailer from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.

I’ve had to hold my proverbial breath over mentioning linotype here until a certain someone received her Christmas present. That having been achieved (she’s allowed because she is flying off to spend Christmas in far flung lands) I’m free to post.

Stan and Sophie of Urban Cottage Industries have built up the largest collection of linotype machines in the UK. The short film above shows these lovely machines in full operational mode. Moleskine Press is just another bow to their collection of lovely companies and ideas. I’ve mentioned fabric cable and historic lighting before but check out their lovely Kornflake project as well.

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