tue 30/05/2017

We Made it

We Made It: Guitar Maker Brian Cohen

Adam Sweeting

Tucked away in a warren of residential streets in the older part of Guildford, The Old Glassworks looks like a lock-up garage, and seems to have been designed to repel unwanted attention with a private force-field of anonymity. Once you've been welcomed inside, however, you find yourself in an improbable wonderland of mysterious musical instruments, from lutes and rare 17th century guitars to members of the violin family in various states of deconstruction.

We Made It: Basket-maker Lois Walpole

Thomas Rees

Basket-making is one of the world’s oldest and most universal crafts. It predates pottery by thousands of years and features in tall tales from the very beginnings of recorded history. According to a creation myth from ancient Mesopotamia, the Babylonian god Marduk made the earth from wicker scattered with dust – and since then many lesser beings have constructed traps, shields, furniture and storage vessels by weaving together whatever plant or animal fibres they had to hand.

We Made It: Horn Maker Tom Fisher

Graham Rickson

Ask anyone for the name of a violin or piano maker, and they’ll probably be able to summon up Stradivarius and Steinway. What about horns? Do...

We Made It: Stufish Entertainment Architects

Marianka Swain

While most set designers come from an art or theatre background, Ric Lipson has parlayed his architectural training into an unusual skillset:...

We Made It: 'Carol' Costume Designer...

Graham Fuller

If there is a successor to the great Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, it is Sandy Powell, the British designer of six films directed by Martin...

We Made It: Stuntwoman Tracy Caudle

Florence Hallett

Forget Evel Knievel: a well-crafted stunt is more about precision than daring

We Made It: 'The Revenant' Production Designer Jack Fisk

Graham Fuller

How he stunningly recreated the authentic American frontier of 1823

We Made It: Double Bass Maker Laurence Dixon

Kimon Daltas

Love at first sight, a six-day week and the satisfaction of a job well done

We Made It: The Electric Recording Company

Adam Sweeting

Pete Hutchison's quest for musical perfection on vinyl

We Made It: Watchmaker Roger W Smith

Thomas Rees

The world-leading horologist keeping British watchmaking alive, crafting exquisite timepieces by hand

We Made It: Concert hall acoustics

David Kettle

The RSNO have a new concert hall. The lead acoustician explains why it sounds so good

We Made It: The Headcaster App

Bernard Hughes

Chris Chapman explains the genesis of his animated character app

We Made It: Wildlife photographer Roger Hooper

Marianka Swain

Waiting out leopards, being chased by elephants and campaigning with the WWF

We Made It: Stage Designer John Napier

Mark Sheerin

The celebrated designer of 'Les Mis' and 'Cats' is putting on a show of his sculpture

We Made It: Violin Maker John Dilworth

Alexandra Coghlan

With historical instruments in dwindling supply, meet a craftsman using historical techniques

We Made It: Aerial Net Sculptures

Bella Todd

Janet Echelman creates floating installations inspired by ancient crafts

We Made It: Designing DVD Covers

Graham Fuller

Meet Eric Skillman, art director of the Criterion Collection's fabled packaging images

We Made It: Cheesemaker James Montgomery

Thomas Rees

Award-winning cheddar made the old-fashioned way

We Made It: Glassblowers Stephen Gillies and Kate Jones

Marianka Swain

The creative and life partners are inspired by their local North York Moors

We Made It: Bespoke bike-builder Jake Rusby

Thomas Rees

The former sculptor at the heart of Britain’s handmade bicycle boom

We Made It: Tin Man update the gamebook

Stuart Houghton

The Melbourne-based company creating electronic nostalgia

We Made It: Cameron Balloons

Helen K Parker

Business is ballooning for a Bristol company that trades in hot air

We Made It: Ballet shoe creator Genevieve Smith-Nunes

Bella Todd

Computer science goes classical in the self-taught coder making light-up ballet shoes

We Made It: Ballet costumier Anna Willetts

Guy Oddy

The secrets of Birmingham Royal Ballet's costume department are unveiled

We Made It: Artist Grande Dame

Joe Muggs

Day-Glo Southern Gothic with artist and craftswoman Tiff McGinnis

We Made It: Coracle Maker Malcolm Rees

Heather Neill

We Made It heads to South Wales to discover a living craft tradition

We Made It: Stage Technician Tom Robinson

Bella Todd

Peek behind the scenes with the set builder of the Young Vic's amazing mirrored box for Caryl Churchill's A Number

We Made It: Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Marianka Swain

Gallery director Alice Workman on housing contemporary art in the threshing barn

We Made It: Jonathan Thomas, Maker

Simon Munk

The designer maker on the future of furniture and working with Thomas Heatherwick

What is 'We Made It?'

The eternal question of where “the arts” start and end is, of course, central to a lot that theartsdesk's writers think and talk about. Our focus may be on the traditional framing provided by gallery, concert hall, stage, screen or recording media, but we are always interested in the ways that the ideas and processes of the arts permeate into other fields. That's why we have, for example, placed video games alongside established artforms – and it's why we have created the new mini-feature series We Made It.

We Made It was inspired by discussions with friends at Bruichladdich distillery who had been developing ideas about how to explore the concept of craft in the 21st century on their website. As we brainstormed, we realised that this was a rich seam: the theme of craft and making allows us to reach into the worlds of technology, food, architecture, design and highlight some of the most interesting thinkers and makers active today, whether they're working with processes ancient or hyper-modern. 

Further, though, we realised that in a time when “artisanal” and “hand-crafted” are becoming debased terms, nothing more than signifiers for a hip aesthetic, the people we were looking at were those who swum against the tide and embodied something deeper: a sense that artisan and artist are one and the same. So, not only could theartsdesk's writers help Bruichladdich with their project, but this could be something worth including on our own site – and so this series was born. Over the weeks we hope it's going to build into something which doesn't just showcase uniquely fascinating people and their work, but casts light on the deeper ideas and mechanisms that make creative processes work today.

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