Now more than ever independent British crafter makers that specialise in handmade goods, need your support. So look to buying handmade homeware, and help to keep traditional crafts alive.
Handmade homewares will always be among the most treasured pieces in your home. Bearing the marks of the maker and unique characteristics that can't be matched by mass production, with artisan made furniture, fabrics and accessories you can create a truly unique home.
Each handmade item tells the story of the maker: the time and effort that goes into each piece of work; the skills involved; their imagination and inspirations. In a largely throwaway society, handmade homeware is made to last, to be kept, cherished and passed down the generations.
Read on to find out about a handful of the talented crafter makers making handmade homeware. Or see our guide to Best of British to find heritage brands that use time-honoured methods of craftsmanship to create beautiful, unique products.
Designer and maker Alice Blogg uses traditional woodworking skills to craft her handmade furniture made from a timeless combination of British timber.
Her workshop is set in the stunning Dorset countryside and is where she 'works from tree to piece,' transforming the raw beauty of unfinished timber into elegantly crafted items.
Using local, natural resources in a sustainable way is a key element of her work, so all of her furniture is made from British hardwoods including oak, cherry, sweet chestnut, ash, walnut, London place, sycamore and beech. Nothing goes to waste.
Her woodworking tools have been passed down the generations of her family, from her great-grandfather who made wooden shoe lasts, to her boat-builder grandfather, and carpenter father - so it is clear that working with wood is in her blood.
From the beginning of her business in 2010 when she made wooden Christmas baubles that she sold at craft fairs, she gradually progressed to small items of handmade furniture to commission, such as coffee tables and stools, on to larger pieces including desks, chairs and lighting.
Hand finishing each of her pieces of furniture, whether it's a stool, chair, cabinet, or light, imbues them with a sense of warmth and individuality, drawing on the beauty of the wood.
All of her designs for handmade furniture start out as hand-drawn sketches, before she refines them, creating prototypes of key elements and joints.
'There has definitely been a surge in interest for traditional crafts,' Alice agrees.
Visit Alice's website (opens in new tab)to find out more about her work or to commission a piece.
Handmade textiles and wallpaper
The repeat designs for wallpapers and fabrics that Kiran Ravilious works up from her initial hand-carved lino prints have diverse inspirations. These range from the lush tropical plants and vegetation that surrounded her as a child growing up in Singapore; Indian folk art; to - since making England her home 15 years ago - British flora.
Her handmade designs feature an array of leaf forms and abstract shapes, culminating from her medley of Eastern and Western influences – from exotic ferns to the common symbol of English woodlands, the leaf of the majestic oak. ‘I like to be quite spontaneous; I don’t have a lot of sketchbooks, instead ideas will come to me and I’ll start drawing them directly onto lino, then carve them out and print onto linen,’ Kiran explains.
‘That’s what I like about hand printing: it is so instant, and I can see straight away how a design looks on fabric. Sometimes I will print just one or two motifs on my press and then transfer them to the computer and start playing with scale and colours,' Kiran adds.
‘I have gone back to my roots a little for some of the latest designs, drawing on Indian culture and folk art influences and incorporating elements from these.'
Her top-floor studio is nestled under the eaves of a screen-printing factory on the corner of a quiet street in Leicestershire. Dotted around the large and peaceful light-filled workspace, furnished with her eclectic mix of vintage and reclaimed furniture, are the many products featuring her back catalogue of designs.
Alongside the fabrics and wallpapers, her designs are produced in a range of products, sold via her website and independent stockists: serving trays, linen cushions, napkins and tea towels, alongside stationery. In a corner of the studio she also handmakes lampshades using her fabrics.
There is a strong heritage of wood-block printing in Asian culture, but Kiran admits that perhaps, subliminally, she was also influenced by the wood carvings of her husband's grandfather - the British painter, illustrator and wood-engraver Eric Ravilious (opens in new tab), and his wife, the artist and engraver Tirzah Garwood (opens in new tab).
‘It’s hard not to be inspired by them. Sometimes it can be quite daunting because of the surname – everyone knows the name Eric Ravilious – but I’m not his descendant; I try to do my own thing and have my own distinctive style,’ Kiran explains.
‘It can take a while to fully develop a design. Even though the initial idea might be spontaneous, you have to put a lot of yourself and your energy into finalising it; weeks of work getting the right shapes that align with each other for the repeat patterns,’ Kiran explains.
To see more of Kiran's work, visit her website (opens in new tab).
Handmade botanical casts
Artist Rachel Dein has found a special way to immortalise the flowers from her garden, capturing every delicate detail of leaf and petal in beautiful handmade botanical castings.
In her sunny attic studio, freshly picked flowers from her garden fill vases, awaiting their turn to be gently placed and pressed into a slab of grey pottery clay to leave the imprint of their organic beauty. 'The plants will dictate the size of a piece,' Rachel explains, as she painstakingly removes each tiny stem before pouring liquid plaster into the imprint and leaving it to set.
Rachel grows the subject of her handmade artworks in her garden in London. 'Every season has its flower combinations that I like best,' she explains. 'Flowering blackcurrant, hellebores, daffodils... the smaller flower forms cast better. I prefer more of a natural, woodland look.'
'It's a wonderful way to tackle the impermanence of flowers; to preserve nature, like a fossil,' she adds. 'I make true to nature prints - not drawings on paper but in plaster relief.'
Alongside small handmade cast tiles in plaster and concrete that she sells via Etsy (opens in new tab) and her website, Rachel works to commission. While most of her casts are left plain, she is experimenting more with colourful work.
To find out more about her work, or commission a piece, visit Rachel Dein's (opens in new tab) website.
Rug maker Angie Parker's colourful and richly-patterned weaves combine traditional techniques with bold and bright contemporary hues.
Angie describes her handmade rugs as 'hand-woven floor art for lovers of colour.' Based on traditional Scandinavian rug weaving techniques, to these heritage designs she adds a contemporary edge with her vibrant palettes.
Having studied rug weaving at Cumbria College of Art, Angie worked as a wardrobe mistress for opera, West End shows and TV for years before returning to the loom in about 2012.
From her Bristol studio, she creates her handmade rugs on a Swedish Glimåkra floor loom, gradually building up the individual rows of a design in the rhythmic weaving process.
Each handmade rug is unique - 'no matter how much I plan, and draw out a pattern, something happens on the loom to take it in a different directions. The piece dictates the way it goes,' Angie explains.
To find out more or to commission a rug visit Angie Parker's website (opens in new tab)
Hand block prints and fabrics
Angie Lewin creates beautiful hand block designs for handmade prints, fabrics and wallpapers, inspired by the nature that surrounds her in her homes in Edinburgh and the wilds of northern Scotland.
Her sketchbooks are crammed with her detailed observations of flora and fauna, which eventually work their way into her designs for prints and textiles via the traditional processes of wood engraving and linocut.
Angie draws on her background in illustrating, horticulture and garden design for her handmade homeware. ‘My knowledge of plants and appreciation of their skeletal forms influences my linocuts and wood engravings,' she explains.
'Inspiration comes from all over - the wild flowers and grasses of the north Norfolk countryside, our own garden, and the sculptural seed heads of plantains, dandelions, poppies, cow parsley, teasels, and sea lavender.’
The transformation from sketch to print is labour intensive and takes many stages, but for Angie each step is cathartic and satisfying. ‘I just love all the stages of the process – the presses, the rollers, the smell of ink and paper,’ she says.
Angie is as patient as her work suggests. Her handmade prints have the delicacy and complexity of botanical drawings that have been refined into semi-abstract, modern designs.
In 2005 she launched the company St Jude’s (opens in new tab), with her husband Simon, to sell her designs as screen-printed fabrics. The business also collaborates with an eclectic range of artists – including Mark Hearld, Jonny Hannah, Emily Sutton and Ed Kluz - to create and print unique fabrics, cushion covers and wallpapers in the UK.
Visit Angie's website (opens in new tab) for more details of her designs.
From her home studio in her pretty Georgian cottage in Derbyshire, Alice Moylan puts a bright and bold twist on vintage style lighting.
Her handmade, hand-sewn silk lampshades, in hues of soft coral and blush pink, to vibrant hot pink, teal and mustard, draw on elements of the iconic Art Nouveau glass Tiffany lamps, and the pleated and heavily fringed French Georgette shades of the 1920s.
'I love the whole Art Deco era. It is this elegant style that has translated into my work,' Alice explains.
Alice started her company, Beauvamp, in 2006, upcycling old lamp shades that she hunted out at antique fairs and auctions, using mismatched panels of vintage fabrics. Then about three years ago she explored how she could have her own frames made to recreate similar styles.
As well as offering a range of handmade lampshades to buy on her website, Alice can make lamps to commission, with customers specifying the shape, colour, and finishes they want - from decorative braids and fringing, to dip-dyed, ombre effects.
By virtue of their handmade nature, there will always be slight variations between the lampshades that Alice makes.
To find out more about her work or to commission or buy a handmade lampshade, visit the Beauvamp (opens in new tab) website.
Handmade throws and blankets
Handwoven textile designer Rhian Wyman uses traditional skills to produce handmade throws or blankets inspired by the colours of nature.
It was her mother's Welsh blankets, passed down through the generations, that inspired Rhian's interest in weaving throws. 'If fabric could talk, just think of the stories it could tell... I am creating throws that could end up being an heirloom, too, which is a lovely thought. I take the traditional designs for Welsh blankets and adapt them, adding a modern spin with my colour placement.'
Her first collection of handmade throws, Lichen, released in 2017, was inspired by the coastal colours and textures of this ancient yellow organism creeping over grey, veined rocks by the sea on the Isle of Coll, where she visited on family holidays. Her next collections were similarly inspired by the colours of nature, including Moss and Heather.
It is a time intensive and meticulous process to produce each handmade throw, calling on many skills as a weaver. With every stage done by hand, from winding on the warp, setting up the loom, weaving and darning, to washing and finishing, each throw is imbued with Rhian's DNA.
'I usually have 2 or 3 tones of colour in the warp, which helps to produce the variety in the resulting weave,' Rhian explains. 'I quite like an element of repetition in the colours and designs, but it is not until the throw is on the tenter frame - to stretch and shape it - that I get to stand back and admire my work. Every blanket is unique and has its own personality.'
Visit Rhian's website (opens in new tab) to find out more about her work or to shop for throws.
Handmade handprinted wallpapers
Transferring her carefully studied drawings into skillfully carved linocuts, designer Anneliese Appleby produces beautiful handprinted wallpapers.
Having taught print making for many years, the idea of creating her own handmade, hand-printed wallpapers had been niggling away at Anneliese for a long time until, in 2014 she started designing and playing around with ideas.
As ideas for patterns tumble from her head, she gather up her artist's easel and venture out to find her 'muses' - from orchard trees and vines, to lupins and nodding granny's bonnets.
Her pencil drawings, brought to life with a wash of watercolour, capture all of the delicate beauty of nature and form the basis of her linocut wallpaper designs.
From the preliminary drawings she will develop the repeat patterns than skillfully mimic natural growth or flowers and plants crawling up and across walls.
As well as reflecting flora and fauna in her patterns, she will scour museums and historic properties for inspiration for her handmade wallpaper designs. A recent design was inspired by a 17th-century wallpaper fabric she found in the V&A print room; another by some Victorian floor tiles.
She will then carefully carve the repeat pattern into lino for printing the wallpaper.
Having found a vintage printing press on eBay, she eventually got it working. It now takes pride of place in her studio, which is housed in a converted, ancient chicken shed. The tranquil space is flooded with light through french doors, which she throws open to the warm sunshine.
Making handmade wallpapers to order, Anneliese mixes colours by eye. She also produces a limited range of hand sewn homeware, including printed linen tea towels and cushions.
Visit her website (opens in new tab) to find out more about Anneliese's work or to buy or order her handmade wallpaper or homeware.