The last week has been rather chaotic. Last Tuesday I drove to Norwich to set the lathe up ready for Norfolk Show on Wednesday and Thursday. Saturday I did the flint knapping with John Lord just south of Kings Lynn then camped overnight and headed off to London first thing Sunday for a Heritage Crafts Association committee meeting. We signed our constitution so are now officially an unincorporated association. Here is my stand at the show in a lovely wooded area.
Norfolk Show is one of the larger agricultural shows in the country and the woodland crafts area is organised by a retired forester friend of mine. In fact many of the demonstrators there are folk that I knew from when I worked for the National Trust at Hatfield Forest in Essex, we were all experimenting with various old woodland crafts together. I think it is worth picking out a few of the demonstrators who I have good photos of and sharing a little about their crafts, it may take a few blog posts but hopefully it will be of interest.
First up this is Jan Watkins making a rush hat.
I first discovered rush hats about 15 years ago when demonstrating at a show I left my hat at home and it was scorching. There was a Princes Youth Business Trust stand there and Felicity Irons had just started in business making and selling woven rush products. I bought a hat having no idea how long a history they had nor how long they lasted. I imagined that like a cheap straw hat it would do a couple of summers at best. Well last year it was still going strong but a few of the rushes had broken and Jan repaired it very skillfully for me for free. Felicity has been very successful with her business see here she specialises in large rush mats for many museums, film sets etc but if you want a rush hat you really could not do better than contacting Jan, she does not have a website but if you send me an email I can pass her email on. I find a rush hat to be delightful to wear on a warm day, when it is really hot I soak mine in water then it slowly evaporates cooling your head and smelling of fresh mown hay, I think Jans hats are about £35 which for a hat that can give over 15 years hard use is pretty good.