As I fold back the page of May in my Tinsmiths Calendar, I am greeted with the rich honey-coloured inks of June’s joyful yellow page glowing back at me. My mind wanders back to a visit to Hartpury Church and Bee Shelter last year and its’ rich history enthrals me once again.
The Bee Shelter can be found at St Mary the Virgin Church at Hartpury, Gloucestershire situated at the back of the churchyard. The shelter is highly decorative and is, quite rightly, a listed building.
The shelter was built in the middle of the 19th Century by a local stonemason and made out of Cotswold Stone. It’s initial chapter somewhat hazy, the shelter was rediscovered in 1957 by the International Bee Research Association in the garden of Nailsworth Police Station. Members of the Gloucestershire Beekeeping Association dismantled the shelter and moved it to what are now the grounds of Hartpury Agricultural College. As the college expanded, the site became unsuitable for the protected building and it was considered at risk. Hartpury Heritage Trust stepped in and the Bee Shelter was resituated once more, this time for good, in the churchyard at Hartpury Church. Complete restoration ensued and the building was ‘reopened’ in 2002.
In its day the shelter could house at least 28 working skeps and would have been home to some 840,000 bees.
The use of wicker or straw skeps to keep Bees dates back to Anglo Saxon times and was only pushed out when the introduction of wooden bee hives came about in the 1850’s.
In this year’s ‘ Ledburyshire’ Calendar Anneliese Appleby has depicted the shelter and skeps with the church so wonderfully. The page of June comes alive in rich yellows, with honeybees busying themselves amongst the Ox-Eye Daisies.
Hartpury Bee Shelter is one of Gloucestershire’s hidden gems and really is worth a visit, especially in the warmer summer months when the trees are lush and full. There are fantastic footpaths around Hartpury which incorporate St Mary’s Church; a classic route is the Hartpury Circular Walk of about 6.5km and can be started at the church. Variations of this route can incorporate the Tithe Barn and Hartpury Mill and can lead you on to the track bed of the old Gloucester to Ledbury Railway.
Rehanging my calendar, I am uplifted at the thought of balmy June evenings spent in the cool meadow grass of my Dad’s garden with the hum of bees and insects around me.
Tinsmiths Shop windows shining determinedly through the temporary pause.
We are so, so pleased to be out the other side of a foggy, second lockdown and opening our doors once again. It has been such a pleasure to fill our new shop space in anticipation of the return of Tinsmiths customers, old and new. We, as always, have a bountiful selection of seasonal delights, one-off treats and our timeless Tinsmiths favourites. We are loving having shop front windows and dressing them has been such a delight. At the time of writing, they are showcasing a fantastic selection of Angela Harding prints, woven willow baskets, Tinsmiths 2021 calendar and the best ever Christmas wreaths and garlands.
Cork trays! So many practical and environmental positives.
Ruffle cushions sitting pretty. Made up in our sewing rooms using Tinsmiths Ticking Fabric.
Our Card Wall is back! A card suitable for any occasion or simply to stock up the card box!
Our extensive range of books never ceases to fill us with intrigue, wanderlust or a desire to make.
Utility at Tinsmiths. A cornerstone of good quality, functional items for the home with longevity.
We are still very much using the original Tinsmiths spaces and they continue to serve us heroically. Our fantastic former showroom has taken on the role of warehouse and oversees the packing of orders which continue to go out in great numbers everyday. Likewise, Little Tinsmiths is now used as the Sample Room and is home to the infamous sample draws. All our fabrics are available online and we offer fabric swatches and returnable samples so you can be sure you are happy that the fabric you choose is going to work for your projects.
Tinsmiths former Showroom.
A snippet of our extensive range of natural fabrics. With something suitable for any project, big or small!
Both the shop and the town of Ledbury have been spruced up in anticipation so if you plan on visiting the area this month we think you’ll like what you see. With a variety of independent shops to choose from, there has been a real effort by the town and local businesses to create striking window displays and put up festive lights which, as the night draws in, really make the town sparkle. What better time to pay us a visit?
We would recommend making a day of it, not forgetting to include time to stop for lunch at the Malthouse Cafe or perhaps to pick up some delicious deli treats at Ceci Paolo to take home.
Our current shop opening ours are Wednesday-Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm. Our office is open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm. We look forward to seeing you and wish you all well, stay safe!
It can often feel like time is always rushing forwards and we are constantly changing, adapting our ways and having to compromise. 2020 has given us all a little time and space to reflect, take a closer look at and appreciate our immediate surroundings. Looking to next year, we have finally put together the calendar for 2021 – very much a celebration of the home of Tinsmiths and all that Ledburyshire has to offer. Working very closely as always with Martin Clark of Tilley Printing and Anneliese Appleby, who has in recent years become the calendar’s innovator. This year’s theme takes us on a journey to some of the fascinating and timeless buildings of Ledbury and Herefordshire, illustrated with seasonal and local flora relevant to each month. Something that is very important to Tinsmiths, Anneliese and to Martin is our connection with nature and the processes of slow crafts which have been captured beautifully throughout the calendar.
View from Frith Wood of Ledbury Viaduct, constructed of 5 million bricks and built in 1806.
Tilley Printing, Ledbury. The working domain of the infamous Martin Clarke…absolutely worth a visit!
Anneliese has, in her signature style, transformed these special buildings into beautiful linocuts. Carefully sketching, rubbing out, moving the page and layering her tracing paper to create delightful yet accurate illustrations of the locations we have chosen; giving time for her ideas to evolve naturally as if fermenting! Putting her own twist and mark on each drawing with hidden creatures and plants that represent each passing month. The chosen plants hold relevance to their month and or location; February’s building is Stoke Edith House which was destroyed by fire in 1927. The house holds much history and intrigue despite its absence and has been paired in our calendar with the elusive Ghost Orchid, the rarest of all UK orchids, which was last spotted flowering in a secret Herefordshire location in 2010.
The linocut of Poppies for Remembrance layered over the Alms Houses in Ledbury.
Mid-19th Century Bee Shelter at Hartpury Church, Gloucestershire made from local Cotswold Stone. The shelter was built to provide protection for the straw skeps used up to the 1930s and is one of the few Bee Shelters that remain from its’ day.
Working with tracing paper allows Anneliese to move and layer with type to perfect her early sketches.
It goes without saying that the part of the process in which colour is introduced is paramount when printing. Anneliese and Martin very much played during this part, looking for colours which represent each months’ place in its season, blending and mixing to realise their visions.
Colour mixing before going on the press.
The Heidelberg Press in her 40th working year…performing tirelessly.
There are of course a number of fascinating and unique buildings within Ledbury itself; the 16th Century Painted Room, Ledbury Church at the end of a magical cobbled street and the timeless Market House in the heart of town. Although many of these feature in this year’s Calendar, we also chose to go further afield into the skirts of our lovely ‘Ledburyshire’.
St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy.
St Catherine’s Church, Hoarwithy. A real gem of rural Herefordshire.
Take time next year to let your wanderlust lead you to new and familiar places and explore what nature and history has to offer, wherever you are. We shall be dipping into our calendar at times throughout next year to further explore some of our favourite places, so do keep an eye out for our future blog posts.
Donations from the proceeds of Tinsmiths Calendar 2021 will be made to the following charities:
On a quiet shelf in our showroom among an abundance of fabric rolls and remnants lies a humble pile of antique patchwork quilts. These quilts all unique with their own story in every stitch and fold, combine the intricate art of patchwork with the precise skill of quilting.
In the past, patchwork and quilting techniques were essentially ways of recycling and repurposing cloth. Limited availability or high prices drove makers to come up with new ways of creating cloth for clothes, bedding, blankets, curtains and so on. Stricter social roles also meant that women, often the makers in those times, were limited in their artistic expression and creativity. So, quilting and patchwork blossomed as art forms as they did not carry the same expectations as mainstream art. Assorted scraps and offcuts were carefully collected and delicately stitched together in geometric blocks or floral designs then sewn to a back cloth and wadding layer. Reflecting their makers culture, aesthetics, life events, stories, principles and imagination, these textiles are an advocate of beauty in imperfection and most importantly an unwillingness to waste.
An unfinished antique quilt in our collection
Quilting is quite simply the stitching that holds the two or more layers together; some of the earliest quilted work was made up of two layers of cloth with a plump batting in between. The stitching of the three layers can become the decoration just like the elaborate all-over designs of the whole cloth quilts of Durham and the North Country.
Patchwork & Quilting, A Maker’s Guide from Thames & Hudson and V&A.
Before modern industrialisation, larger quilts had joins as the early looms were not so wide and so the wholecloth quilts were made up of strips of cloth to make them large enough for bed covers. In many types of quilting, patchwork especially, the stitching is a consistent running stitch or backstitch. These methods can be seen across a range of quilting techniques from English and Welsh wholecloth and strippy quilting to the Sashiko techniques of Japan or the Kantha patterns of India.
During the Great Depression Feedsack Quilts were birthed as a new style. Women used the plain cloth of sacks of grain or corn to make undergarments or blankets; these were plain but essential. The sack manufacturers soon realised they could market off this necessity and began to print coloured sacks and then all kinds of patterned sacks from florals to landscapes to pre-printed doll patterns. There was much competition to produce the most desirable sacks and women would choose the feed for the farm based on sack design. In today’s connected society, feedsacks have been rediscovered in the abundance of textile waste and creative recycling has sparked designers to use the sacks in their pieces. 3 Women Co of Long Beach, California create sustainable garments using vintage rice, flour and feed sack cloths.
On the whole, patchwork is made by sewing small pieces of fabric together creating a larger patterned cloth. ‘Patchwork’ and ‘quilting’ of course go hand in hand but really quilting has its own story. A lot of patchwork actually remains unquilted. America, Europe and Asia have historically produced geometric patchwork designs with uniform shapes and repetition. There is a shared need to save precious fabrics and the similar designs of these continents share influences through their expanding trade routes.
19th Century Diamond Patchwork Quilt
Antique patchwork quilts sit rather suitably in our range of homewares. Bringing such rich history and intrigue the quilts are an absolute labour of love, something rather valued at Tinsmiths.