Thursday, 1 December 2011

Kirkharle - Part I

Vivien and I had another of our fabulous days out to a tiny place called Kirkharle.  I've linked to a map to show you where it is, but you'll have to click down a ways before you find it.  As far as I can tell it's pretty much a farm, what's left of the old hall and a church, with the old farm buildings turned into shops.  Still, between having lunch and a warm-me-up cup of tea, we managed to use most of a day investigating it all.

Old Stone Barn

I didn't take photos in all the shops, for example, I wasn't sure how the artist would feel about having her ideas pinched.  Not that I could re-create most of the things.  I have very little experience with paper mache. 

Also, her work is of a certain style that wouldn't fit in my rather traditional house very well.  My favourite of all the items were the bowls.  You can see her work for yourself here.  It's quite dazzling 'in person'!

Typically, the shop where I took the most photos is one I can't name. 

Wood stoves on a chilly day are so cozy!

I'm guessing it was the Northumberland Gallery, as it had a variety of gift items and also handcrafted furniture.  I delighted in looking at things I thought I could make, such as the handing bags, which were quite cleverly designed.

I loved these ladies, part paint, part fabric.

Also, seeing things that I couldn't possibly make but which were quite affordable.

Plant stands - only £20 to £40!

And of course the things that were outside of my casual shopping price range even if I did have a square inch in the house to spare for it.

The 10-drawer chest was about £2,000 - but gorgeous.

'Spirit flask with four stirrup-cups'; ingeniously made,
but not part of our lifestyle.

I surprised Vivien by buying a couple of things here - we are coming up to Christmas, after all.  She's much more used to seeing me not buy!

The knitting lady was out at a craft fair, which was disappointing.  However, some of her work was hung on the walls outside her shop. 

I particularly liked the door stop. 

I might try wrapping some heavy fabric strips around a heavy rock sometime; mind, it might not be how she made this one!  There are two places where I could use door stops to protect my furniture from opening doors.  Seeing her website, I'm not surprised we missed her.  She gets about quite a lot. 

The nursery garden was probably not at it's best given the time of the year.  Still, I thought the combination of a box of plants on offer with a box for your payment was pretty special. 

Sort of like going back to a much simpler time, when there was more trust around.

The last shop I will talk about today, we found almost by accident when checking out the large marquis being erected in preparation for their holiday fayre. 

We were admiring the display cases full of mostly silver jewelry of modern design when an older gentleman emerged from a work room holding a large ring.  He said he had just finished making it and it was full of enthusiasm for a good day's work.  It was a large ring made of yellow, white and rose coloured gold bands.

The ring on the right is finished.  I believe he said it would sell
for something like £900, given the current price of gold.

We fell into talking and he explained how the ring was still rough and needed refining.  Also it would need to go to the Assay Office in London for hallmarking.  He showed us a simple gold link bracelet with a tag appended to the clasp.  The tag was necessary in order to display the three compulsory marks:  that of the Assay Office, the purity assessment mark and the maker's (sponsor's) mark.  He was also excited about a fourth mark, commemorating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.  He reckoned this would increase the collectability value of his pieces.

He went on to tell us that he was now 71 and retired from teaching maths (some of that time in Canada), but that he had entered into training for jewellery making at the age of 13 and had been sending items to the Assay Office for over 50 years.  This gave him rather a special status down there in London.  He was clearly enthusiastic about his current work and we had a lovely visit which didn't include anything remotely like a sales pitch.  Were I in the market for a piece of jewellery, I'd definitely go back to him.

Tomorrow I'll show you more of Kirkharle!


Anonymous said...

Kirkharle sounds like such a Viking word.
I love the idea of you wrapping rags round a stone - don't let the neighbours see you!

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

I love these kinds of places--I LOVE that artists are getting so much more exposure now. I would much prefer to buy handmade work than something from a high street shop.

And what an interesting story about the jewelery maker!