Although now living on the North West coast of England at the end of the Wirral peninsula I was born and raised on the East coast of Lincolnshire. I was a somewhat precocious and high achieving child who from my earliest days had an odd passion for research and teaching myself all manner of strange facts or apparently obsolete skills that just didn't feature on any school curriculum. This was, and still is, most prevalent in terms of my interest in how things used to be made, where I knew that what I wanted to do when I grew up was spend all day in a little workshop or studio learning as many different traditional craft skills as I could. What is more, at the age of thirteen I began taking on commissioned art/craft work both for friends locally but also a professional retail business at the other end of the country who were probably unaware of the age of the person they were commissioning goods from. However, for a whole variety of mundane reasons real life got in the way and the pressure to get a sensible job and earn a reliable salary saw my life head in a very different direction. Having studied Quantum mechanics for my first degree I briefly found myself working in computing and Information Technology which wasn’t to my liking. In an effort both to avoid being trapped in such a job and through a love of education I retreated back to university chasing funding and qualifications wherever they would take me until some joke I now have more letters after my name than in it.
Nevertheless, after several academic and professional courses of study and various forms of full time salaried work, part time and voluntary employment, including, technical author/illustrator, school teacher, museum archivist, university librarian, archaeological conservator/restorer and more besides I eventually acknowledged that I wasn’t going to be happy until I was earning some sort of full time living from the art and craft work I loved. I knew by that stage I already had some sort of established reputation as a miniature artist/craftsman as I was having to turn away commissions through lack of spare time. I just didn’t know if I had a strong enough reputation to make a full time job out of what had previously been a spare time hobby.
So, in the Spring of 2003 and with the full support of my loving wife I gave up on the collar and tie lifestyle, sacrificed a reliable income and started saying yes to all the commissions I was being offered. We agreed I’d initially take any kind of art or craft based work offered and see what direction that would take me in, and if it were possible to build a full time business out of it. Though principly concentrating on making small sized and detailed objects, the diversity of work I’ve been offered over the last two decades has been astounding, and as my reputation spreads I am being approached about ever more varied art and heritage craft work.
In terms of the types of work I can undertake, I am happy to try any kind of artisan handicraft however unusual. Indeed this attitude has lead to my reputation as "the chap to go to when you don't know who to go to" resulting in fulfilling some truly bizzare commission requests. There is now little I’ve not tried in at least some modest way as I've a real interest in experimental archaeology as a means of exploring the technical evolution of all traditional crafts. Over the years I’ve covered everything from portrait painting to blacksmithing, weaving to theatre set design, glass blowing to shoe making, graphic design to traditional lime plastering, silver smiting to bow making and fletching, pottery to architectural model making, landscape photography to furniture making, stone carving to embroidery, sculpting war-games miniatures to boat building, bone carving to wildlife illustration, bronze casting to cake decorating and the list goes on. What is more I'm now finding odd bits of paid employment teaching workshop classes and demonstrating practical craft skills to others; either amateur hobbyists or odd bits of work in museums or in front of a camera for TV/video documentary work. Ask me which is my favourite subject and I'll always say the next one because my passion and hobby is learning and researching about unfamiliar traditional arts and crafts. However, where once I would experiment with each new skill purely for my own enjoyment, as my experience has increased I am able to take on a more and more diverse range of atypical work on a professional or commissioned basis in obscure areas where nobody could ever afford to specialise.
So if you were to ask me what it is I love most about the work I now do, I’d have to say it’s the unpredictable diversity of those that challenge me with something out of the ordinary. This attitude shapes my hobbies and free time to an even greater extent than my paid work. Since I already know how to use a credit card or cheque book I don't feel any excitement or pleasure in simply purchasing physical goods made elsewhere, only through making something that requires me to learn new skills! Indeed my only guilty pleasure in terms of expenditure is a considerable and ever expanding collection of obscure academic reference books about period crafts and the material culture of our archaeological heritage. So at one extreme this attitude towards making things for myself showed itself when I decided to design and manufacture my own high resolution SLA 3D printer, not because I really needed one, but just to see if I could do it. At the other extreme it dictates my philosophy about Historical Reenactment and Living History work where I no longer wear, use or present to the viewing public anything I have not researched and hand made myself; an attitude which can go as far as processing the raw materials to hand make the replica tools used to produce the objects I display. Hence when I wanted a supposedly simple set of Viking trader's weights I turned a half day of craft work into an ongoing research project which has so far spent several years studying the evolving metrology of the early medieval silver economy: Not done because it was necessary or appreciated by others, but because without an externally imposed deadline I could do so just for my own interest!
I hope this web site reflects the range of work I can undertake, and reflects the standards I work to. I consider myself both an idealist and perfectionist, and no matter what the budget or timescale a client can allow for a project I am never happy with my own work and want to keep refining things just a little bit further. I am however, acutely aware of the importance, especially with commercial work, of bringing in a job on time and on budget, and of clearly defining what a client can and can’t achieve within the time and money they have available for any particular project. A truly stunning piece of work that exceeds all the client's needs and expectations but which arrives six months after they wanted it and costs them five times more than they had budgeted for is of no use to any business. I have been told that my overly thorough attention to all manner of small details that makes others value what I do as an academic, artist and craftsman does mean I am not the best at concisely selling my services to others. I would therefore ask your forbearance if when discussing projects I come across as somewhat verbose in my desire to establish exactly what it is that a client does and does not want and exactly what it is realistic to aim to achieve within their available resources. Irrespective of this I do have many satisfied clients who have become regular customers and you don't have to take my word on this as the Testimonials section of my web site lists many of the things others have said not just about my work but also the quality of service provided.
So if you think I may be able to help you with a project you have in mind, or if you want something making that is just that little bit different and don’t know who to turn to, then contact me, I’m always happy to discuss any kind of art or craft work.