Festive Frolic - Tuesday 29th November, 11am to 3pm

To thank you for your custom and enthusiasm during our first year, we would like to invite you to our Pre-Christmas Market Festive Frolic on Tuesday 29th November, 11am to 3pm. We'll be serving suitably artisanal refreshments and a beautiful buttonhole will be made in front of you by talented florist Rachel Petheram.

Invitation holders will be able to enjoy 10% OFF all stock during the event on production of their invitation *

Please ask for an invitation if you'd like to attend.


* Applies to items not already on sale, and not in conjunction with and other offer/discount. Offer given to the person named on the invitation, and not transferable. Valid 29/11/16 only.

Bauble Bash - Christmas Preview, Sunday October 30th, 12pm - 4pm

Join us on Sunday October 30th for a jolly afternoon at 86 Bailgate and be amongst the first to see the Christmas decorations we have chosen for you! It's too early for Christmas music but we will have some homemade wintry nibbles to set the scene... Attendees are offered 10% off ALL stock during the four hours of the event only. It's a good opportunity to take your pick before stocks diminish, chose some Christmas gifts maybe (and save a few bob) plus we'd love to chat.

We opened last November so didn't really suss the whole Christmas hoohar last year, but this year we've had time to get ready. Don't worry, we're not turning into a Santa's Grotto but we have chosen a range of decorations for you, which we feel match our style, compliment our shop plus have satisfied us as being ethically responsible. Expect gentle illuminations, subtle colours and gorgeous shapes.

We really hope you can pop in and join us!

New Myanmar stock

We have been busy recently sourcing some new woven products for you, from a part of the world we haven't welcomed to our shop yet. Myanmar (formally Burma) is between Bangladesh and Thailand (we have placemats and coasters from Bangladesh). It's also close to Vietnam where another of our laundry basket ranges is made (we currently cannot get those hence finding others!).

With any product made internationally, we think about who may have made it and whether they are treated fairly. We always ask questions, and we often decline products as the information isn't transparently and willingly offered. This may mean our stock is a bit more expensive than some of the mass market high street and retail park retailers, but very often ours is made to a higher standard as well as being imported with care. (We compare our prices to the better-quality mainstream retailers, and we compare favourably, not bad for a diddy independent retailer!)

These pieces from Myanmar are rattan* peel on rattan core, and are darker than the pieces we usually carry (don't worry, we are still stocking our Senegalese pieces!). The wastepaper bins are woven using palm leaves.

The importer for these is very open and willing to share how he goes about finding his makers: he personally travels to visit potential new suppliers to make sure that employees are happy and well treated. He says he has refused on more than one occasion to deal with some simply because of the way employees are treated. He assures us that the suppliers he currently deals with are nice, considerate, caring human beings and their employees are happy, well fed and content. He says we cannot compare our (British) lifestyle with theirs, but he firmly believes that he does all he can to ensure that life for our makers is as full and acceptable as conditions allow. We are proud to support this.

*there is synthetic rattan and natural rattan; our stock is natural rattan which comes from palms, usually climbing palms. There is so much work involved with these pieces, even before the weaving starts!

Senegalese placemats back in stock

Panic ye not, our beautiful Senegalese placemats and coasters made by our Senegalese ladies are back in stock. Plain, simple, honest and fairly traded. We have a limited amount and have to wait for new shipments each time, so please pop in soon if you have been waiting.

Warm copper tones

Bright, deeply-toned copper and rich, earthy shades are currently grouped together in the shop thanks to our fairtrade copper products and traditionally-made Portuguese herringbone wool throws.  All things to live with or give to another but, above all, enjoy for many years. Surround yourself with the things, and the people, you believe in. Copper from £13; throws £99.

Feeling blue and white

We've topped up our Cornishware stock, including this Garlic Keeper. It has little holes so the bulbs and cloves can breath and not go all manky and nasty. Bit of linguine, bit of freshly chopped and sauted garlic (to sweeten it), a handful of herbs from the garden (flat leaf parlsey, mint, chive), salt and black pepper, dash of oil (we sell local rapeseed oil) and frankly that's dinner sorted at this time of the year. Add some poached chicken, crispy bacon or flaked salmon if you wish. Or toasted pine nuts. No harm to eat veggy even if you're not. Simple food, simple pleasures.

Coalpot cooking arrives in the Bailgate!

Imported directly and fairly from the Caribbean by a friend of the shop, these coalpots are ideal as a table top method of cooking outdoors. Whether you want to cook for just a few people or you want to cook outdoors avoiding something the size of a small car being wheeled out of the shed, coalpots are charmingly rustic but very efficient. (Amy has done cooking demos on them in the past!)

They are now available in the shop. (We don't like to name-drop, but Mr Oliver uses one in his books!)

Coalpots have been the main method of cooking on St Lucia for many generations, since the early Amerindian and Arawak settlers. They are still hugely popular today

We have a full info sheet and recipe ideas in the shop, so feel free to pop in and have a look. Then light the coals. Let them settle down. Cook. Chat. Drink. Eat. This is slow cooking, Caribbean style… £85 per pack (coalpot, grill, sack of charcoal).

Pole lathe items by the amazing Michael Ashton

We now have these fantastic items in the shop (well, some of them; some have been snapped up already!). The very talented Michael Ashton (who took these beautiful images of the things he made for us) creates useful items with a pole lathe, and no electric. Just proper old-fashioned skill. Pop into the shop and have a look / feel. The bowls are for eating out of, the rolling pins for rolling, the dibbers for dibbing, spoons for eating with, rounders bats for achieving sporting greatness with, and the stools are for little bottoms, tired feet or keeping hold of your wine glass next to the sofa. It's all for using. It's all waiting to be loved.

We now stock Everlasto baker's twine!

'There ain't a thing you can't fix with string'. If we were going to have a tattoo, this is what it might say such is our love of string. Whether you wrap gifts with it, thread baubles with it, fix gates with it, deliver lambs with it or tie a length between your big toe and your bedroom door knob at night to safeguard against snoopers (we grew up on Famous Five can you tell), string is all you need. We've always stocked string but we now also stock some frankly lovely baker's twine called Everlasto which has been made on these fair isles since 1856 using traditional methods.

Our cast iron favourite featured in the Bailgate Independent

A cast iron favourite at The Artisan Maker

The cast and spun iron cooking and baking equipment we stock (made in Shropshire by Netherton Foundry using traditional casting methods) is featured in the current Bailgate Independent. We have reproduced their article here, with their permission.

Cooking and baking by cast and spun iron is very appealing due to its excellent heat retention and distribution qualities (with no ‘hot spots’) plus the bowls and pans are very difficult to bend, warp, dent or scratch! Once brought up to heat, cast and spun iron is ideal for browning and searing meat as well as slow cooking. In fact, much-loved TV cook Nigella Lawson used some of Netherton Foundry’s products in her last series. The Artisan Maker stocks a selection of the product range, and can arrange for larger heavier pieces to be delivered direct to the customer.

Netherton Foundry is a family-owned business located in South Shropshire, sited in the heart of the birthplace of the European Industrial Revolution (the 18th century's ‘Silicon Valley’!). Today, with the heavy iron and coal industries a fraction of what they were, Netherton Foundry remains inspired by the 18th and 19th centuries' Shropshire Iron masters, especially Abraham Darby. Its range is perfect for cooks and bakers with everything from iron tagines (with a ceramic lid) to iron loaf tins.

Socks back in stock!

Our recycled cotton mismatched socks are back in stock!  The sock trolley is fully laden... We have been road-testing these socks and can confirm they are comfy, a true fit and wash very well! They are made from recycled cotton in the US, by a number of small family-owned businesses. Large scale production but on a personal small scale. Please feel very welcome to pop in and browse.

Our new exclusive, locally-made towel rails

We are now stocking* our own towel rail, made locally just for us! A little wider and a little shorter, it is perfect to prop up in the bathroom for towels or use it for scarves etc. It is waxed and looks natural so will fit in nicely with all colour schemes.

*we only have one at the moment (plus the last of our vintage ones). The elves (there is just the one of them and his name is Roy) will be making some more, but at the moment there is one. The new one is £69 (shown, with a Bronte throw on it); the vintage one is £79. 

The ladies feature in the Bailgate Independent!

You'll find us in the latest Bailgate Independent telling its readers all about 'the ladies'! Here at 86 Bailgate we offer handmade functional goods from local, British and international artisan makers including our lovely Senegalese baskets which have an extra colourful story all of their own.

Sisters Elizabeth and Emma supply the baskets to the shop; Elizabeth is based in London and Emma in Senegal, allowing her to directly work and negotiate with ‘the ladies’ as we like to fondly call them. Talented and dedicated, the Senegalese ladies weave with meticulous attention to detail from their homes in villages near Thies in Senegal. The skills are shared and passed down through generations. Emma works directly with them, and ensures they are paid a fair and secure income. Elizabeth lets us know when she has new stock in so we can get a good choice for you.

The baskets are beautiful; if you pop in we will point out which of the baskets are made by the ladies in Senegal (one other Fairtrade supplier is also used). There are Ali Baba laundry or storage baskets; striped flat lidded baskets in blue or pink plus smaller lidless (and lidded) baskets for wastepaper, kindling etc; large oversized trays for fruit, newspapers, bread etc. The table mats will be back in stock soon plus oval baskets are expected as well as coasters.

Last day of Spanish bakeware promotion!

Today is the last day of our Spanish bakeware promotion (10% off) and we're open 9.30-5 at 86 Bailgate. New to the shop floor yesterday afternoon - Netherton Foundry lovelies including two stove top tagines (cream lid or red lid - red lid tagine shown below), 2lb loaf tins (as used by Nigella), and a splendid casserole. We also have two casseroles with smoker kits in stock. Cooking with cast iron is ideal as it has excellent heat retention and distribution qualities. Plus these tagines are really very attractive! Come in and have a look. We'll soon have a 'buy at the Artisan Maker and have it delivered direct' facility plus as soon as they are available we expect to have slow cookers (also as used by Nigella!) and electric tagines back in stock.

More baskets from our Senegal ladies!

We had a large delivery of baskets (laundry and storage) yesterday made by the Senegal ladies. There are two large Ali Babas of this design plus one with green squares... We are open today (Saturday) between 9.30 and 5pm at 86 Bailgate. Please feel very welcome to pop in to browse.

Bronte by Moon arrives at The Artisan Maker

We now carry an excellent choice of throws (and some cushions) by Yorkshire-based 'Bronte by Moon' a well-known luxury wool brand. Established in 1837, they are one of Great Britain's last remaining vertical woollen mills, meaning they are among just a few which continue to complete all processes on one site. Before being woven to create beautiful textiles, the raw wool is dyed, blended, carded, spun and warped. After weaving, the fabric is scoured (washed), then milled and ...dried. The final process is the finishing, when steam and special equipment is used to press the fabric and remove any shrinkage. It's this process and attention to detail, coupled with excellent design and colour combinations, which make Bronte by Moon such a good choice. We have the cushions at £44 (with pad) and throws at £89.

(Also: We have four of our fabulous Irish Foxford wool throws left (reduced) and will get more in stock soon. We are also currently awaiting a new batch of throws / blankets from our exclusive Portuguese weavers!)

Sausage dogs arrive at the Artisan Maker!

These dear little tealight holders are hand-thrown and individually pierced in London. They are full of charm. More decorative than functional, they are still useful and are a nice way to give somebody a gift of something handmade which they can enjoy for a very long time. We have six designs including a lighthouse, 'sausage dog', bird, cat, house, bicycle and owl. £14 each.

Amazing 'crumple' glasses made in Lincoln

We're pleased to be stocking 'crumple' glasses by Lincoln glass artist and glassblower Maggie. We've chosen to stock a classic dark blue plus the rather nice white. Tall glasses, they have a good weight and feel very nice in the hand. Ideal for soft drinks but especially nice for beer or wine. We're thinking summer evenings outdoors and dining al fresco as well as wintry Saturday evenings watching a DVD. Drinking glasses which have been handmade give so much pleasure to own and use. £15 each or £50 for four. Each is different, so please feel welcome to come and choose your favourite.

Hola! Spanish pottery promotion until 13 February 2016

We currently have a Spanish pottery promotion running at The Artisan Maker at 86 Bailgate (between The Whisky Shop & Follie). Choose your cazuela, paella, sarten or olla and we'll give you 10% discount, a free cooking and care sheet to get you started plus a few recipes. This 'oven / hob to table' pottery is perfect for Mediterranean cooking plus is ideal for cottage pie, fish pie etc. The qualities of the terracotta / clay for cooking and baking include excellent heat distribution and retention. Pop in and have a look and a chat! Prices start from £4 for a small tapas dish. Promotion ends on Saturday 13 February 2016. See you soon!