Limerick Milk Market hosted its second artisan craft fair yesterday, and I have to tell you, the atmosphere was light, cheerful and good-feeling. Feeling good. The sun was out and so were the people.
I like to make things out of timber, so I’m drawn to artisans who make substantial, earthy, raw, holdable objects. That’s just a natural instinct, and no reflection whatever on those who produce beautiful, ethereal,evanescent, diaphanous cloths of Heaven.
I’m a clod who doesn’t understand such matters, and hence the disproportionate number of wood- and metal-workers here. I’ll make up for it next time.
All crafts share the same essential quality: they massage the mind. Whether you’re turning a bowl or bashing a red-hot billet of steel with a hammer, there’s no room in your head for anything but the work at hand. Craftsmen and women are peaceful, reflective, self-contained sorts, at ease with the world and with themselves.
This is Dick Ross, who retired from Dunnes Stores and set himself up as a wood turner. Dick loves his materials and he works his beautiful objects from found wood. His shed is full of the old trees that he collects. They season and mature, an inch per year as he says, before they’re ready for his attention.
Here’s his website: Well Turned. Check him out.
This is Olga of Elfwood. Olga used to be an office manager but also worked with horses before turning to furniture-making.
Olga drove the whole way from Sligo, and confesses to being surprised at what a nice town Limerick is.
I like these pieces with their legs of hazel and their assorted hardwood tops. You could see them in Bilbo Baggins’s house, and maybe you already did if you ever visited him.
This is Bill Edwards, who used to be a science teacher in international schools around the world. Now he’s a wood turner like Dick. He shares the same attention to detail and the same patience to rub and polish and oil his work to a soft, gentle sheen, releasing the figure hidden in the wood and working with the natural contours of the piece.
Bill doesn’t really do websites, and even his email is probably not the best way to contact him. He lives in East Clare, and if you’d like to commission him to make one of his beautiful pieces, you can phone him on 061-925172. He’ll be delighted to hear from you.
Here’s Hannah from Ballymorris pottery. Just outside Limerick, near Bunratty, Hannah’s workshop turns out first-class work. I plan to drop out there soon to take a few pictures and maybe find out how this pottery thing is done.
This is Fergus, who used to be an archaeologist but who now makes his living as a silversmith. He trades as Forgotten Silver and specialises in recreating the forms and styles of ancient Irish artefacts. Here he is, cold-working a piece of silver, tapping gently with his hammer, drawing out the metal and shaping it to his wishes.
Eventually, it will strain-harden and become brittle. Then he’ll anneal it with heat and begin again until eventually he ends up with something like this …
… or this.
Eric does much the same thing as Fergus, but on a slightly different scale.
He’s a blacksmith (not to be confused with a farrier — he knows nothing about horses).
Eric used to be a steel-fixer on reinforced concrete construction but now he has his own forge: Killuragh Kraftworks. He’s another peaceful, happy man, answering to nobody but himself.
This fire basket took him two weeks to make, but he’ll turn out anything you want. Gates. Fire irons. Suits of armour.
The last bit isn’t true. I made it up.
Liz Malone (right) makes these delightful painted glass objects.
Call 087 2029597 for more details or to buy something. Go on — buy something. They’re great.
I didn’t have time to talk to everyone at the craft fair, but eventually I might get around to it. There’s always next month, and the month after that.
If you’d like more information, have a look at the Artisans Craft Fair website. That’s where you’ll find all the latest news and contact details.
Next fair: 30th September. 12 noon to 7pm