The Forager’s Year: February 2020

The Forager’s Year: February 2020

In the second of our posts written by Anneliese Appleby to accompany the forage themed Tinsmiths 2020 calendar, we have a recipe which puts rhubarb centre stage.

February: Rhubarb

Other hedgerow forage found this month: Nettle, Chickweed, Common Sorrel, Crow Garlic, Dandelion root, Hairy Bittercress, Wood Sorrel
Rhubarb Gin

1kg Rhubarb – use only the newest bright pink tender stems
400g White Caster Sugar – don’t use golden/brown or you’ll lose the beautiful pink from the Rhubarb!
800ml Gin

Wash the rhubarb, trim and discard the leaves at the base.

Cut into lengths of approx 1” (2cm). Place into a large clip top jar (or a bottle) and sprinkle over the sugar, close and then gently shake th​e jar to coat all the rhubarb in sugar. Leave to stand overnight. Next day, add the gin.
Give it a good shake and leave to stand for 4 weeks.

After 4 weeks you can strain off the fruit and bottle the gin or serve it straight from the jar adding pieces of rhubarb to the cocktail. Alternatively strain off all the fruit and use it to make a lovely boozy pudding such as trifle, crumble or fruit fool.

Alternatives…

This recipe can also be used for many other Summer and Autumn fruits including damsons, sloes, raspberries and blackberries. It’s also possible to replace the gin with vodka (if you’re not a fan of gin) to make an equally delicious flavoured spirit.

When using dark berries, such as damsons and blackberries, try adding half a teaspoon of real vanilla extract to the full bottle to give a subtle depth to the flavour. If you’re using damsons or sloes you will need to pierce the skin to release the flavour – this can be done by hand with a cocktail stick or by putting the fruit in the freezer overnight, before starting the recipe, to burst the skins​.

The Forager’s Year: January 2020

The Forager’s Year: January 2020

Tinsmiths 2020 Calendar January

In this, the first of a series of posts written by Anneliese Appleby to accompany the forage themed Tinsmiths 2020 calendar, attention is turned to the nutrient-packed watercress plant.

January: Watercress

Other hedgerow forage found this month: Cowberry, Chickweed, Common Sorrell, Crow Garlic, Hairy Bittercress, Wood Sorrell, Winter Cress, Wild Cabbage

 

January is a month where foraged food is less abundant which is why watercress has been chosen as this month’s subject.

In Victorian times watercress was often known as Poor Man’s Bread, as impoverished labourers would have access to watercress even if they couldn’t afford bread or, where meat wasn’t available, watercress was often used to fill sandwiches. Watercress is packed with nutrients, it is rich in vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and is a source of foliate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains useful amounts of vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, potasium and Iodine. Watercress, along with nettles, really is an amazing secret foraged superfood!

Please note, only harvest wild watercress from watercourses that you know to be clean, unpolluted and away from livestock. Watercress can be a source of Liver Fluke, a group of harmful parasitic trematodes.

 

Watercress Soup

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Butter
1 Onion, chopped finely
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp Nigella Seeds
1 small stick of Celery, chopped finely
250g Watercress, washed
1 pint Vegetable or Chicken Stock
Salt + Pepper, to taste
½ pt Double Cream to garnish

Heat the Oil and Butter in a large saucepan. Add the Garlic, Onion, Nigella Seeds and Celery
and saute gently for 5-10 minutes until the onion becomes clear but not browning.
Add the Watercress, stir to coat in the buttery oil and onion, cover with a lid and wilt for 7-8
minutes, turning over the leaves with a spatula occasionally.
Add the stock. Bring gently to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
Whizz in the pan with a handheld liquidiser.
Season to taste

Serve piping hot with a generous swirl of Double Cream
On the side try a crusty loaf of bread, lashings of butter and a lump of a fine French Cheese. Enjoy.

Watercress Linocut

 

Tinsmiths Calendar 2020: The Forager’s Year

Tinsmiths Calendar 2020: The Forager’s Year

The 2020 Tinsmiths Calendar takes it’s inspiration from nature’s seasonal bounty. For this, our twelfth Tinsmiths Calendar, the theme is foraging. Beautifully illustrated with linocut designs by Anneliese Appleby, each month showcases a different forage suggestion from locally grown, seasonal produce. The calendar has been a collaboration between Anneliese Appleby and Martin Clark of Tilley Printing, who has printed all of our previous calendars to date, using original type, blocks and linocuts and then printed on Tilley’s trusty Heidelberg letterpress (which, we’re reliably informed, is due to celebrate it’s fortieth year of hard work in 2020).

Throughout 2020 we will bring a monthly ‘forage’ post, kindly written by Anneliese, to accompany the according month illustration in the calendar. Foraging is a great excuse to get outdoors, learn more about the local habitat and enhance your diet and cookery with new flavours, colour, and healthy nutrients. Foraging can be a fun activity with children and a wonderful way of teaching them about where food comes from. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of going out for a long walk to find the forage and then bringing it home to make into a tasty meal. It’s also an excellent reminder of the seasonal heritage of our food.

Before foraging there are a few important things to bear in mind:

  • Always follow foraging ettiquette; use a good quality foraging guide to help you identify plants that are unfamiliar to you, particularly, for example, when you are hunting for mushrooms.
  • Be mindful of the natural environment you are about to forage in and consider if you have right of access to the land. Leave nothing but footprints!
  • Ensure to leave enough of the plant for it to continue flourishing successfully, including casting seeds or spores, take no more than you actually need.
  • Wash the food thoroughly before cooking and consuming, it may have been exposed to pesticides or run off from commercial farming. It may also have been in contact with domestic or wild animals.

As you turn the page of your calendar each month don’t forget to revisit the Tinsmiths blog for the latest foraging entry which will be peppered with poetry, tips and recipes.

 

W.R. Lethaby and All Saints’ Church Brockhampton by David Patten

W.R. Lethaby and All Saints’ Church Brockhampton by David Patten

All Saints Brockhampton

All Saints Brockhampton.

The Architect’s Error

As it says for all to see in the church porch, architect W.R. Lethaby’s error at All Saints’, Brockhampton, was that “The experimental nature of the building led to some disasters – part of the west wall collapsed.” As a result, Lethaby never built again. 

In a letter to his sister, the architect confessed that “The responsibility of building always withers me up, and now that the cost has mounted up terribly in a scheme of my own to build without contractor, it is quite terrible to wake up to a doubt of the foundations.” After the failure at Brockhampton, Lethaby limited himself to teaching and writing.

Nave of All Saints Brockhampton, Herefordshire.

Nave of All Saints Brockhampton, Herefordshire.

Lethaby’s error at All Saints’ Church was in trying to build in accordance with William Morris’ “never-never-land of pseudo-medieval guild socialism” [1]. Despite preparing over two hundred drawings for the project, and living on-site so that he could work closely with the trades and allied crafts workers involved in the construction process, Lethaby could not narrow the gap between ‘design’ and ‘doing’, and mistakes were made. According to the online history of the church [2], as the project “neared completion a structural crack appeared in the east wall of the south transept due to an inadequate foundation.”

Although Lethaby paid for his error – in many ways, including literally by paying for the necessary remedial work out of his own pocket – some 80 years later, Viscount Esher, then Rector of the Royal College of Art, described Lethaby as “the heaven-sent antidote to [William] Morris.” For Esher, Lethaby was “able to speak of a new architecture more attractively, and more in the language of a later generation, than any other Englishman…”

Windows and Light Fittings, South Side, All Saints Brockhampton

Windows and Light Fittings, South Side, All Saints Brockhampton.

One of Two Tapestries designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made in The Morris Workshops.

One of Two Tapestries designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made in The Morris Workshops.

Well-Making

While working on his church at Brockhampton, Lethaby gave a famous lecture at the Birmingham Municipal School of Art on William Morris’ understanding of Art as being “the spirit of man put into the body of his labour; the intrinsically right principle in the making of things – Work religion.” In this, Lethaby was clearly restating the Arts & Crafts definition of the word ‘Art’ as meaning “the elements of good quality, reasoned fitness, and pleasantness in all work done by hand for necessary service.”

Lethaby subsequently rephrased this in summary terms as “art may be thought of as THE WELL-DOING OF WHAT NEEDS DOING”, and this slogan both informed and guided Raymond Unwin’s highly influential ‘Town Planning in Practice’ of 1909. As Unwin commented, “We have in a certain niggardly way done what needed doing, but much that we have done has lacked the insight of imagination and the generosity of treatment which would have constituted the work well done; and it is from this well-doing that beauty springs.”

By 1940, aspiring places like Coventry were designing the modern city under the same slogan: ‘THE WELL MAKING OF THAT WHICH NEEDS MAKING’. 

Decorative and Functional Details from All Saints Brockhampton

Decorative and Functional Details from All Saints Brockhampton.

In old age, Lethaby declared [3] that “We have to refound art on community service as the well-doing of what needs doing”, and his own life became very much about the idea of art as service. According to Viscount Esher, “Lethaby once set out in epigrammatic form a simple syllabus of his accumulated experience. ‘Life is best thought of as service; service is common productive work; labour may be turned into joy by thinking of it as art, art, thought of as fine and sound ordinary work, is the widest and best form of culture; culture is a tempered human spirit’.” [4]

An early image of the church at Brockhampton

An early image of the church at Brockhampton.

North Elevation, showing "knotwork" windows.

North Elevation, showing “knotwork” windows.

Also in 1901…

During what became an increasingly busy year for Lethaby, in 1901 he also became Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art, and the following year the sole Principal at the London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts. Initially founded by Lethaby in 1896, ‘The Central’ was a logical consequence of the Art Workers Guild he had co-founded in 1884 with other young architects associated with R.N. Shaw’s office. But it was in Germany, through the later Deutscher Werkbund movement and Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus, that Lethaby’s unique contribution to 20th century finally found its fullest expression. As Lethaby said, “German advances have been founded on the English Arts and Crafts.” [5]

Lethaby also shaped our contemporary understanding of the importance of conservation and preservation. In 1906, he was appointed Surveyor of Westminster Abbey, and his work for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (founded by William Morris and others in 1877) is still recognised today through its awarding of the annual Lethaby Scholarships for architectural conservation.

In 1901, Lethaby also began to commission and edit the popular ‘The Artistic Crafts Series of Technical Handbooks’. These important texts, written by leading practitioners of the time, covered a diverse range of subjects, and included: ‘Book-Binding and the Care of Books’ (Douglas Cockerell), ‘Silverwork and Jewellery’ (H. Wilson), ‘Woodcarving: Design and Workmanship’ (George Jack), ‘Stained Glass Work’ (Christopher Whall, who did the windows at All Saints), ‘Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving’ (Mrs. Archibald H. Christie), ‘Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers’ (W.H. St. John), ‘Woodblock Printing’ (F.Morely Fletcher), ‘Dress Design’ (Lethaby, himself), and so on.

Lethaby Technical Handbook

In his Editor’s Preface to Edward Johnston’s ‘Writing, Illuminating & Lettering’ (1906), Lethaby states that “…true design is an inseparable element of good quality, involving as it does the selection of good and suitable material, contrivance for special purpose, expert workmanship, proper finish, and so on.”

One of Lethaby’s stated intentions behind the ‘Artistic Crafts Series’ was to “put artistic craftsmanship before people as furnishing reasonable occupations for those who would gain a livelihood.” Indeed, when he published his own ‘Architecture – an Introduction to the History and Theory of the Art of Building’ in 1911, Lethaby was ‘reproached for having given away the secrets of architecture for a shilling.”

Of course, such things as ‘true design’ and the benefits of ‘well-making’ can be simply dismissed today as irrelevant to our current building of a very different kind of world. Even so, and despite our sense of urgency and the limited resources now at our disposal, when visiting Lethaby’s church at Brockhampton we might do well to recall this old architect’s advice to others:

“In church, cathedral, cloister, hall

Some hours each day I’d spend-

And this a touch of dignity

To all your work will lend.”

A footnote…

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is difficult to imagine what Lethaby would have made of what Norman from New Zealand found on the 22nd floor of the Hotel Monterey Grasmere, in Osaka, Japan. “The faux chapel in the lobby” is a scaled down replica of Lethaby’s church at Brockhampton, and has become a popular wedding venue. What would have alarmed Lethaby most? The hotel’s description of what Norman discovered, or the risk-analysis of building foundations in Osaka Prefecture?

“This authentic looking chapel is surrounded by green grass and vivid flowers and illuminated from above by the extensive glass roof. The design imitates the churches of the Cotswolds, described by the renowned designer William Morris as the most beautiful in England. Our chapel recreated the beauty of the Cotswolds, from its rolling green hills to its traditional arts and crafts culture.” [6]

Sources:

  1. Viscount Esher: ‘A Broken Wave: the rebuilding of England 1940-1980, 1981.
  2. http://www.allsaintsbrockhampton.org/history/, accessed 28.05.2019.
  3. W.R. Lethaby: ‘The Town Itself / A Garden City is a Town’, 1921.
  4. Viscount Esher: Forward to ‘SCRIP’S AND SCRAPS by W.R. Lethaby gathered and introduced by Alfred H. Powell’, 1956.
  5. W.R. Lethaby: ‘Form in Civilization’, 1922.
  6. https://www.hotelmonterey.co.jp/en/grasmere_osaka/facilities/ accessed 13.08.2019.

 

David Patten | Biography

After studying Fine Art in Birmingham, and Painting under Peter de Francia at the Royal College of Art in London, David Patten’s work has emphasised the importance of cultural democracy and collaboration. He has contributed to many award winning projects, including the re-use scheme at Electric Wharf in Coventry (Bryant Priest Newman Architects) and the restoration of Stourport Canal Basins (British Waterways). His current work on W.R.Lethaby’s impact on post-War rebuilding is a direct result of his almost obsessive interest in the ‘Monumental Studio’ of the little known sculptor and ecclesiastical decorator William Forsyth, who was working in Worcester during the latter half of the 19th century. David Patten is also a Patron of The Baskerville Society..

Linen for curtains & blinds

Linen for curtains & blinds

Linen Fabrics from Tinsmiths

In the latest in our occasional series of posts about cloth the focus is on linen. Starting with the basics; linen is a fibre which is obtained by processing the ‘Linum’ or ‘Flax’ plant. ‘Flax’ has a pretty blue flower and is grown for both the fibre and the seed all over the cooler regions of the world, with high quality linen being particularly associated with Ireland, Belgium, Latvia and Lithuania.

Linen has a number of properties which make it really good to use in the home; it is cool to touch and can absorb up to 20% moisture before it feels damp, it is lint-free, does not pill  and is durable to abrasion although because it has low elasticity repeated ironing of folds will eventually cause the fibres to break (the cuffs of linen shirts bear witness to this) . It is not of interest to moth or carpet beetle and is easy to take care of washing well even at high temperatures and has only moderate initial shrinkage. It can be finished to maximise or reduce these properties and can be woven as a ‘union’ with other yarns to produce cloth with particular characteristics. Linen has been used by humans as a textile for at least 30,000 years and with such a long history and with it’s particular properties the uses that linen are put to are extensive; bed linen, tablecloths, napkins, dish towels, glass towels and bath towels, home and commercial furnishing items (wallpaper/wall coverings, upholstery, window treatments, sheer curtains etc.), apparel items like dresses, shirts and suits, luggage, artists canvases, it is used by bookbinders and bakers and for paper and banknotes. The Tinsmiths selection of ‘Linen Fabric’ has grown steadily over the years and we now offer linen in qualities from very fine sheers to the chunkiest 712gsm upholstery linen.

Linen from Tinsmiths

Curtain-Making in Linen

As curtain makers we have always been slightly dissatisfied by the drape achieved by some of the stiffer linens and we now offer ‘Washed Linen’ in a really good range of colours and stripes – curtains made with this ‘Washed Linen’ drape fantastically, falling heavily to the hem.

washed linen curtain

Linen has always been the luxury choice for bedlinen in hot climates because it keeps cool and dry even in the most humid conditions, however we have always felt that natural unbleached linen for curtains and furnishings is an excellent option for bedrooms where a calm and relaxed environment is required.

Of course Linen is a good upholstery cloth, the heavier weights are required for durability and for ‘severe domestic use’ some linen unions stand up to wear outstandingly, achieving very high rub tests; many of our upholstery fabrics have a high linen content and achieve very good results when tested for durability. For loose covers the stability of linen comes into it’s own, because it generally washes with a minimal initial shrinkage and takes washing and cleaning processes well, it is the ideal choice for loose covers.

wing-armchair1

Printed 100% Linen – Deerpark designed by Lewis & Wood

 

 

 

 

 

A Lot of Bottle – Winchcombe Pottery

A Lot of Bottle – Winchcombe Pottery

Bottle Kiln at WinchcombeThe Bottle Kiln at Winchcombe, last fired in 1954, awaiting restoration.

There has been a working pottery on the site at Winchcombe, Gloucestershire since the late 1700’s – barring closure during the 1st & 2nd World Wars. Emblematic of country potteries of the 18th & 19th century were bottle kilns; massive wood-fired or coal-fired kilns filled with everyday wares by a team of “repeat throwers” and taking two-three days to reach temperature.

An example of Slipware Pottery, typical of the Greet Pottery Period

The Bottle Kiln at Winchcombe is in a sorry state – it stands sprouting vegetation and without the surrounding pottery sheds. Some would say it is madness to attempt resusitation but the kiln is part of a fantastic story that tracks change in the ceramic industry through this period to present day.

Winchcombe has clay – lots of it – which is why the pottery started here. The first recorded pottery on the site, Greet Pottery, made chimney pots, plant pots, rhubarb forcers, tableware for local people. Michael Cardew – student of Bernard Leach – spotted the possibility of setting up his first workshop here after its closure was forced by the outbreak of the First World War . His era at Winchcombe began in 1926 and marked the shift from rustic traditions to studio pottery. Cardew recruited two locals; importantly, Elijah Comfort, aged 63 and who had worked before in the pottery and a little later the 13 yr old Sidney Tustin. Cardew wanted to follow the old traditions of English Slip-decorated Earthenware and was successful in this, continued filling the enormous bottle kiln and expanding his workforce.

Casserole by Michael CardewBottle and Casserole by Michael Cardew

The Second World War brought change; Cardew moved to Bodmin leaving the young chemist, Ray Finch to carry on the pottery, which was, again, forced to close during Second World War. Finch returned, bought the pottery and welcoming student potters – many of whom have become well-known in their own right – but the pottery struggled and the bottle kiln was fired for the last time (to date!) in 1954.

Platter by Ray FinchLarge Stoneware Plate by Ray Finch

Ray Finch, influenced by the stoneware pottery of Shoji Hamada, began to equipping the pottery with kilns to fire stoneware alongside earthenware and this gradually became the mainstay of the pottery which flourished during the 1960’s and benefitted from a craft pottery revival with the interest in a “wholemeal” life.  Ray’s sons, Mike and Joe, followed their father into the crafts – Mike with this own pottery in Wales and Joe continuing at Winchcombe until his retirement in 2016.

Winchcombe Pottery is right now entering a new phase. Matt Grimmitt (a descendent of Elijah Comfort) took over the “wheels” from Mike Finch and, working together with John Forster and Joseph Fuller, there is a real sense of new life being brought to the historic pottery at a time when there is, as there was in the 1960-70’s, renewed interest in the crafts across the board and in pottery, especially. Winchcombe continues to make stoneware but has just produced the first slip-decorated earthenware pitchers and, who knows, could this be a return to Winchcombe roots in earthenware? Possibly even in a bottle kiln? If you would like to help Matt and his team restore the bottle kiln, you can donate to their restoration project here.

Stoneware Tableware from Winchcombe, 2019

Having just received our first delivery of Winchcombe Tableware at Tinsmiths, we are delighted in the shapes, surfaces and feel of the ware which is robust, versatile, serene and undemanding on the eye – a real pleasure to use daily. We wish the new team at the pottery all the very best – we’ll be watching for how this incarnation of Winchcombe Pottery develops and visiting regularly.