OPEN WEEKEND AT
29 September - 1 October
After nearly 40 years in Clerkenwell this is a new era and an exciting opportunity for Craft Central. We are building a new community of designer-makers, creatives and start-ups bringing design and making back to this area of traditional industry.
Come to our free event and see our magnificent Grade II listed ironworks, one of the last buildings from the great Victorian shipbuilding era, and never before open to the public.
You will be able to admire the building with its huge overhead cranes, triple height exhibition space and see the newly completed fit out of creative studios.
We will have a small illustrative launch exhibition featuring work by 11 network makers: Ana Bridgewater (ceramics), Katharine Coleman (glass), Nick Crabb(flute making), Claire Gaudion (textiles), Emily Jo Gibbs (embroidery), Alice Heaton(glass), Danny Lee (textiles), Christine Meyer-Eaglestone (marquetry), Elizabeth Rose (furniture), Georgia Bosson(textiles) SilPhi (lampworked glass jewellery).
Sign writing and craft lettering are very much in demand. We have two exciting exhibits: The Glowing Alphabet Peep Show from Better Letters featuring 27 original sign written works glowing within a modern curiosity cabinet. Archie Proudfoot, Artist and Sign Painter, is loaning ‘Every night', a reverse glass gilded piece set in a steel frame and made using traditional sign painting techniques.
The Friends of Island History Trust will be displaying historic photographs of Millwall and be on hand to explain more.
Find out more about our exhibitors further down the page.
On Saturday and Sunday, London Craft Club are running free family-friendly drop in craft workshops. Visitors can design and cut their own pleather (synthetic leather) key ring or necklace to take away. There will also be a family craft table with simple crafts for even the youngest budding crafts person to enjoy.
Friday 29 September from 2pm to 5pm
Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October 12pm to 6pm
Family workshops taking place on Saturday and Sunday only
Free entry, no advance booking required.
The Forge is close to the river and within easy access of Greenwich, Canary Wharf and Surrey Quays. It is a five-minute walk from Mudchute station on the DLR. Free weekend parking in Westferry Road.
About our exhibitors
Christabel Balfour is an artist and weaver, living and working in South East London. She studied at the Ruskin School of Fine Art where she produced woven sculptures and immersive installations.
Since graduating she has focused on tapestry weaving, as well as producing handmade papercuts. Her work seeks to combine the geometry of the city with the open spaces of the natural landscape, emphasising simplicity and tranquillity over complexity and chaos. She is interested in the soothing qualities of repetitive patterns, and the infinite variations of the handmade.
Danny Lee Design offers digitally crafted luxury textiles products. From boutique homeware blankets and kimonos, to artisan cushions, all created with the Danny Lee Design signature feel. Danny is inspired by everyday objects and the surrounding environment of his East London studio, a short walk from The Forge on the Isle of Dogs.
Danny Lee is a fabric developer and textiles artist. He has experience in producing large scale textiles art pieces for residential property and working within the knitwear industry to produce fabric developments for current trade shows. He holds a degree in Art Practice from Goldsmiths, University of London and a Masters in Textiles from the Royal College of Art. After completing the first year of PhD research, Danny Lee Design realised his ambition in turning his ideas into products rather than research.
As regular visitors to Venice, Silvia and Philip Crawford were were fascinated by the glass they saw there. 15 years'ago they decided to learn how to make it themselves and enrolled at the Abate Zanetti glass school in Murano, the island outside Venice where Venetian glass is made. After much training and practice they now have a studio in The Forge and use blowtorches, rods of Venetian glass and tools which are also made in Venice to make necklaces, bracelets, rings and other glass jewellery and objects. Each bead or ring is made individually by hand, then combined with Sterling Silver or Italian waxed cotton to produce colourful, versatile and unique items which can be worn anywhere and with almost anything.
SilPhi regularly update their collections, increasingly finding that customers are keen to influence the designs themselves and personalised creations are an increasing part of their business.
Emily Jo Gibbs
Emily is a British Artist who over the last two decades has established an international reputation for her exquisite work. She has received significant critical acclaim and examples of her work are in several museum collections including the V&A, London and The Museum of Fine Art, Houston. She is a member of Contemporary Applied Arts and the 62 Group of Textile Artists, in 1998 Emily was formally elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Alongside her commission based Art practice Emily teaches regularly at West Dean College. Between 1993 and 2006 Emily was the Creative Director of Emily Jo Gibbs, luxury handbags.
Emily started making fashion accessories in textiles and metal in the final term of her Wood Metal and Plastics degree at Wolverhampton University. On graduating she briefly studied shoe making and leatherwork in Leicester and Walsall. Then in 1993 inspired by interest in her work from designers and press; including Koji Tatsuno and American Vogue, Emily moved back to London and embarked on setting her own handbag making business.
In 2005 Emily Jo Gibbs won an award from Craft Central to create a whole new body of work, which was for a new audience; Emily found it extremely liberating creating this collection, and was excited to be making pieces with less constraints and exploring new techniques whilst still using many of the skills she’d honed making handbags. Much of this work derives from her observations of nature, finding beauty in a tiny bits of moss, grass or peeling bark. When these pieces are brought together they make Intriguing ‘nature table’ displays.
"I found the change in pace between running a fashion driven handbag business and establishing myself as an Artist quite difficult to navigate at times. Determined to make work that was personally and creatively rewarding I embarked on a series of embroidered portraits of my family”.
Alice is a Craft Central Network member who works primarily with hot glass. She gained a First Class Hons in Design Crafts in 2016 at De Montfort University where she is currently Artist in Residence. Craft Central was impressed by her beautiful glassware at New Designers last year and she showed her work in our galleries as part of London Design Week. This introduced her to new buyers and the press and allowed her the opportunity of presenting her work in London.
Alice's inspiration comes from organic forms in the natural world. 'Life Within' is inspired by the bold intensely coloured microscopic creatures, sponges and coral that exist in our oceans. She captures the dynamic movement caused by the force of sub aqua currents. Her techniques involve manipulating the glass until it is at the point of collapse then working with it and applying vivid colour combinations that reflect those found underwater. The results, often large scale, are individual and exuberant sculptural objects. Her new hand blown glass collection, continues to work with nature and is inspired by landscapes, mountains, shadows and light and shade. In these more structured pieces, Alice is using intense spreading and overlapping colours to give real depth and illusion.
Claire is an increasingly recognisable name on the British Interiors Textiles scene, championing the power of colour, pattern and texture for interiors. Established in 2013, the brand set out to encourage the rediscovery of colour with an award winning debut collection.
Taking inspiration from the ever-changing seascapes and coastal landscapes of the Channel Islands, Claire’s printed and woven textiles depict the islands’ natural rhythms with unique colour combinations and rhythmic geometric and abstract patterns. Claire Gaudion textiles are developed and sampled in her rural Hampshire studio, before being produced in specialist mills in the UK.
Her printed fabric designs can be printed on a range of base fabrics to suit residential upholstery and soft furnishings, or the special requirements of the contract sector. Claire Gaudion supplies interior designers, architects and specifiers with her collections, and carries our bespoke commissions.
From a career working for Habitat sourcing and developing product ranges Elizabeth developed a lasting love of chair design and unusual fabrics. When she moved to Lewes, she trained as an upholsterer. Elizabeth now creates beautifully upholstered mid-century chairs in collaboration with artists and textile designers to produce unique designs and limited edition pieces. Each chair she produces is a one-off; a bespoke piece of art for the home.
Playing with form, colour, pattern and texture Elizabeth works alongside designers to develop a brief for a chair, or a collection of chairs. They discuss ideas, consider the shapes that would work with the fabric and devise a design that is inspired by her overall aesthetic for the collection.
Once she has a design Elizabeth sources the perfect chair to showcase the fabric which is made, either by trusted digital printers or hand-made by skilled weavers and talented screen-printers. The chair is restored, and upholstered by herself or a selected master upholsterer.
At The Forge Elizabeth is showing a fully restored armchair, a collaboration with Georgia Bosson. Georgia has designed and worked felted wool looping into a beautiful trailed design on the back of the chair.
Georgia studied Embroidery at Manchester University. In 2013 she set up the Georgia Bosson studio in Bermondsey where she started to experiment with overlapping repetitive pattern and quickly developed her own signature style characterised by the geometric designs in her current collection.
In Georgia’s work the fundamental process of mark making is an integral part of the design. The clever overlay of marks, lines and circles propels her work into a myriad of different forms, from the repeated dots and dashes in her prints to the layered circles and crosses of her quilts.
The inspiration for her collection starts with an armful of sketch- books where she records the world around her. Seemingly mundane objects such as Lichen on a rock can be the inspiration for an entire collection’s colour palette.
Ana founded Abalon Star to match her passion for pottery with her delight at candlemaking. Spanish born, she comes from a tradition of giving presents to the guests at a wedding, but she couldn’t find anything that was right. As the light was fading she had the idea of making her own candles. “Born of love, influenced by nature and finished with gold, my candles are handmade, using a strong composite of porcelain.”
When burning, the porcelain is translucent , and the light produced is warm and delicate. When the wax has burned away, the porcelain cup can be used again and reimagined.
Ana has lived, worked and exhibited in the US, UK and Spain. Her London studio in The Forge is her laboratory and factory.
“It’s where I design and experiment, and hand-make my pieces one-by-one. It’s hard work, but I love what I do. I have been working with porcelain for over a decade – it’s an amazing material that comes direct from earth. I love it for its hardiness translucence, and sonority.”
Katharine Coleman MBE
Katharine Coleman is a glass engraver and designer. She was taught point, drill and copper wheel engraving on glass by Peter Dreiser at Morley College, Lambeth from 1984-7.
Her work requires close collaboration with glassblowers Potter Morgan Glass, as she engraves on clear lead crystal forms, overlaid with coloured glass, blown to her design. Once blown and annealed, the top surface of the glass is cut away and polished, so one can see inside the piece. Then the glass is cut and engraved on the outside surface. This engraved decoration reflects and refracts onto the inner surface, creating the illusion of one body floating inside another. The optical properties of glass fascinate Katharine; she feels that they provide a rich world for the artist.
The inspiration for her work is the beauty found in the commonplace, whether natural history or the modern urban landscape. Katharine's work has been exhibited widely in the UK and Europe, USA and Japan and can be seen in many public collections. Katharine feels strongly that wheel engraving on glass no longer needs to be traditional in style or content, though she prefers traditional techniques, using lathe-mounted copper, diamond and stone wheels, to obtain the crispness, textures and fine finish, so much more difficult to achieve with sandblast and drill.
Katharine regularly teaches drill, point and wheel engraving on glass at Morley College, London.
Awarded an MBE for services to glass engraving in 2009, Katharine was elected an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London and a Freeman of the City of London in June 2015. She is also an elected member of Contemporary Applied Arts, a Fellow of the Guild of Glass Engravers (2001 - 2015), a Brother of the Art Workers Guild, and member of The Glass Circle, Contemporary Glass Society and The Glass Association.
With a background in Fine Art Christine Meyer-Ecclestone MA discovered marquetry when studying cabinet making and realised its potential as a contemporary visual medium. Developing her own technique, a Crafts Council Setting-Up grant in 2001 enabled her to set up a workshop in Leeds. Since then she has been creating unique pieces, among them wall-based artworks and functional items with a marquetry surface –‘ functional works of art’. She exhibits regularly and has worked in partnership with interior designers both on a domestic and corporate level.
Christine always cuts veneers by hand, regardless of scale, allowing her to let each design evolve in the cutting process while instinctively responding to a multitude of colours and grains. Her combinations of conventional and reconstructed veneers (made in Italy by laminating thin rotary cut sheets of various dyed woods) allow for subtle and sophisticated or bold and dramatic colour schemes. Colour is expressed through dynamic geometric composition, as structure is central to Christine's work. Designs range from minimal to complex, often exploring the dialogue between hard edged geometry and organic pattern. Drawing inspiration from architecture as well as music she is also influenced by an underlying appreciation of early 20th century art, such as Cubism, Constructivism and the Bauhaus and has a deep respect for Japanese design.
Vital considerations in her designs are balance and rhythm: "working as fast as the media allows, I aim to convey a sense of tension and vitality or one of order, simplification and elegance by manipulating line, edge, colour and texture". Precision and craftsmanship are critical to her practice and these are never compromised by the apparent spontaneity of her designs.
Brighton-based Xobo Furniture is led by architect, designer, Stéphan Silver. Originally from Montréal, Québec, Canada, the designs are a combination of his native Northern home with the desire to create objects that are space-saving, multi-functional and practical.
Xobo Furniture consists of products that are playful, innovative sculptural and unique. They are designed to be space saving, multi-functional and practical. Their forms, materials and colours are designed to bring visually pleasing, sculptural, enjoyable objects into your living space.
The furniture is designed for adaptability and mobility, and their timeless design ensures the products are able to bypass current style trends and can be used for generations to come.
The collection has grown into a range of products comprising wardrobes, cabinets, chests, tables and chairs.