Beautiful gift ideas - made in Norfolk
- Credit: Lisa Bambridge, Stoned & Hammered
An iron sculpture or firepit
Blacksmith Nigel Barnett grew up fascinated by the steelworks furnaces nearby which lit up the night sky.
Today he has his own forge at Great Fransham, near Dereham, where he uses the intense heat of fire and huge hammers to shape iron into fabulous flowers and animals, garden firepits, towering sculptures and even swords for historical re-enactors.
Nigel worked as a welder on big building projects before moving to Norfolk to become blacksmith.
At Fransham Forge he works on projects ranging from big public art commissions to beautiful metal gifts. He made the benches from reclaimed railway track which mark the miles along the Marriott’s Way path between Norwich, Reepham and Aylsham, and the huge rope and herring sculpture at the entrances to St Georges Park in Great Yarmouth.
Next year one of his sculptures will be displayed at Sandringham as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and Nigel is also making thousands of butterflies to raise money for a Norfolk hospice.
He also crafts smaller pieces – ideal as beautiful and original Norfolk-made gifts. There are decorative spoons and bottle openers, hand-forged leaf-shaped keyrings (£8) and silhouetted animals set on spikes to stand in gardens include ducks, hens, hares, hedgehogs, frogs and deer. A pair of boxing hares is £70, a hedgehog just £17. Nigel also creates towering poppies and quirky footpath feet for flowerbeds so gardeners can step across without crushing plants you don’t crush your plants and towering poppies. Vouchers for Nigel’s blacksmithing courses also make popular gifts.
The forge is set in 4.5 acres of woodland and visitors can enjoy its outside sculpture trail of work by Nigel and his talented team, as well as its gallery and shop. For opening times, and the online shop, visit www.forged-ironmongery.co.uk
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Potter Philippa Lee makes plates and bowls and serving dishes, decorated with designs including hares, fish and fruit in her pottery and shop, The Hen and Hare in Burnham Deepdale. The shop also sells crafts including jewellery, glass and greetings cards made by other people. Philippa has been creating crockery from clay for almost 30 years and loves the fact that her art is put to practical use in ovens and on tables around the country.
“I love working with clay - it's a wonderful material to work with. I find throwing pots very soothing and meditative. It is very satisfying creating work which is going to be used and enjoyed,” she said.
The Hare and the Hen, are part of Dalegate Market at Burnham Deepdale. Best-selling items include oven dishes of all shapes and sizes and specially-commissioned plates and bowls which Philippa personalises for weddings and other gifts.
She began decorating her pots with pictures of animals when her children were small, inspired by illustrations of animals in their storybooks.
Now her daughter, Helen Parker, sells Philippa’s pots in her own shop in Norwich. The Giggly Goat, in Goat Lane, Norwich, is packed with crafts created by local makers. Alongside Philippa’s work are ceramics, glass, paintings, prints, textiles, greeting cards and jewellery by a range of other talented craftspeople. See ceramic animals made by Norfolk’s Julia Hulme and charming overlapping drawings of Norwich buildings on tote bags, tea-towels and cushions by Norwich illustrator by Ignis Szy who studied at the University of the Arts and turns her pictures of city street-scenes into art-themed gifts. www.thegigglygoat.co.uk
Delicate nature-inspired jewellery
Leaves picked from the parkland around Blickling Hall are turned into beautiful jewellery by Lisa Bambridge of Stoned and Hammered in Elm Hill, Norwich.
Each of Lisa’s silver, gold and gemstone pieces is inspired by the Norfolk countryside and made in her Elm Hill workshop and shop.
“This year people are really interested in buying pieces of jewellery that have a little story to tell,” said Lisa. “Our acorn necklaces and bracelets are individually cast using acorns from historic local trees and our leaf jewellery incorporates leaves from prominent local places from the parkland around the University of East Anglia to Blickling Hall.
“Pearls are also becoming very fashionable again for both women and surprisingly young men too. We have some wonderful natural, organic baroque pearls with incredible lustre and for those who prefer a darker shade we have simple, minimal Tahitian pearl necklaces in silver or solid gold.”
Prices start at £20 for a simple pair of handmade pearl earrings to hundreds of pounds for individually commissioned pieces.
Most of the jewellery is silver but a few pieces are gold and everything is made entirely by hand. stonedandhammered.com
Mother and daughter design duo Michelle and Stephanie Witts sell their textiles and home furnishings from their new shop and studio, Witts Design, in Timberhill, Norwich.
They use their prints, inspired by the Norfolk coast and countryside, to create cushions, curtains, scarves, tote bags, lampshades, table mats and kitchen textiles – all made in Britain.
“Our most popular products are the golden table runner, tea towels and double oven gloves, placemats and coasters, as well as our lavender bags,” said Stephanie. wittsdesign.com