Artisans Project: A visit to Easthope Stained Glass Studio, Folkestone, Kent.

I'm going to produce another book of photography this year to sell for charity as it was such a success last year. The theme I've chosen is traditional crafts and the first company to welcome me is Easthope Stained Glass Studio in Folkestone. The company is owned by ex-chef Nick Easthope who took the business over from his father and I was pleased to hear that his son is also entering the business soon; a proper family business. Nick does everything from glass painting and firing to making the stained glass items themselves, it can be said that lead really does run through his veins. I was also introduced to his assistant Marek, a wonderfully cheerful Pole who apparently arrived one day proclaiming "Stained glass, I do!" using what little English he could speak at the time. Marek works part time in the studio in which Nick works 6 days a week, they make a fine team.

The morning couldn't have gone any better, I could shoot whatever I liked and Nick was more than happy to explain what he was doing as he worked. Apparently it's quite normal for people passing the studio to come in and just watch which I can understand as it's a bit like watching an intricate jigsaw puzzle being pieced back together. In this case the 'jigsaw' was a window from St John's College, Cambridge that dated from the 16th century, so no pressure at all! When the windows arrived a brass rubbing was made, and this paper becomes the template over which the window is reconstructed using new lead and the original glass. Any areas of lead that have had to be added to fix a cracked piece of glass are marked on the template with a dashed red line - everything has to be documented along the way. Adding lead like this of course means that small slithers of glass have to be removed otherwise the window would slowly get taller and no longer fit where it came from. Measuring and forward planning are essential before a job is started.

Nick's tools are mostly very old and have worn beautifully and it was also reassuring to hear that real lead is still being used rather than a modern substitute. As a change from working on windows, Marek was busily restoring and reinforcing two very large metal and glass hanging lamps that had recently arrived from Marrakech - once finished they will be much stronger and will return to where they came from in much better shape.

It was a great morning and I'm really pleased with my photography which I think documents my visit well.

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