Julie's story about becoming a Guild member 
Julia Tanner joined the Essex Craft Guild approximately 10 years ago and has become an incredibly successful artist. We asked her what place the Guild had played on her journey. 
“This is how the Guild has been good for us. 
First of all just being accepted into the Guild was rather like getting a rubber stamp of approval. I knew that you have high standards and the fact of being accepted made me feel that what I was doing was up to the right standard, it was also lovely to be able to display the Guild badge at shows. Our customers were also impressed as a lot of them had heard of the guild. 
As well as that, the standards adopted by the guild meant that we always did things as well as we possibly could. We often see shoddy stands at shows and say “the Guild wouldn’t accept that would they!” Just simple things like floor length, non-see-through cloths that are plain and not competing with your goods; eating on the stand; trailing light cables; displaying your product in the best way you can; not being too cluttered. We learnt all these things from being guild members and we continue to improve and strive to be the best we can now. 
The Guild Shows themselves were also another source of learning. Show visitors knew that they would always get a quality product, made by the person on the stand and that they could always ask questions. It felt like a very safe way to sell and grow our business in an environment where the customers really appreciated what they could buy. 
And that’s not even starting on the camaraderie and support of all the other members and the social side. We made many good friends from being members and even though we now live on the Isle of Wight we still meet some at shows and have fun and laughter. 
I definitely feel it helped us on our path to where we are today ,and I like to feel that the Guild still influences a lot of what we do and how we act today – in particular Quality with a capital Q being at the centre of all we do.” 
Julia Tanner (September 2023) 
Graham Richards, A 53 year road trip... 
My active journey into leather working started ten years ago, although the kernel for it was planted about 53 years back! I’ve always been a huge westerns fan and it was when I was learning to ride western style in 1970 in Hainault Forest, Chigwell, I met Bill, a leather craftsman. As a result, I’ve wanted to learn it, ever since. 
Jump to 2012. I’m on a solo road trip from Phoenix AZ to Colorado Springs CO to do a course with my work as a children’s and youth work adviser. I stopped overnight in Durango CO. It was a Sunday in early October. Everything was closed, apart from a western store. I thought I’d died and gone to cowboy heaven! The trouble was, I couldn’t afford anything. It was all hand crafted leather. However, the lad in the shop gave me a web address of a leatherwork supplier. Some months later I looked them up and they had a couple of UK outlets. A few weeks later I was driving home to Harrogate from Matlock, with £200 of tools and hide, but not a clue what to do with them! 
I scoured the internet and discovered a x2 day course in a wood outside Bath: “Learn 30 basic leatherwork skills in two days!” I went. I did. 
Then followed ten years of honing my craft. I was fine doing the basics, but I wanted to do more. The odd course here and there gave me new skills. I began carving and tooling leather. I tried making different things, to see what people might buy. Commissions started coming in. I was finally getting somewhere. 
In June 2019 I retired. After 25 years in North Yorkshire, I felt I needed to come home to Essex in London, where my family are. I ended up in Tollesbury, overlooking the salt marshes and North Sea, because it was affordable! I looked for possible markets and joined a monthly farmers’ market in Wivenhoe. I used it to hone my presentation skills; test products and build a rapport. Then came Covid… 
Introducing Jan Cadman, Collage Queen and Chair of the Essex Craft Guild 
I grew up in a very creative family - mum was a dressmaker and grade 8 pianist; I learned knitting, crochet and embroidery from grandmothers; painting, gardening and how to wallpaper and redecorate a room from my dad; had piano lessons and could make my own clothes by age 14. My creativity has always been essential to my well-being - dressmaking, knitting, embroidery, drawing, painting, playing piano, and I am also a published poet. I have never seen myself as an academic but found great satisfaction in achieving an MA in Health and the Arts. 
I originally started to make collages in box frames, often as memory collages, using fabric, lace, ribbons, beads, and memorabilia. I then moved onto using canvases as a base so I could use paints for my designs and backgrounds. I now make imaginative and playful mixed media collages each one being unique, my own original design, and is handmade by me. My inspiration comes from shape, form, colour, textures and my sense of fun and creativity. 
I first heard about the Essex Craft Guild when myself and a group of friends attended glass fusing workshops taught by a Guild member who eventually suggested that I apply for membership. At the time, although I was being encouraged by people to sell my collage work, I hadn’t had the courage to try. Being accepted for Guild membership had a huge impact on my confidence and I started by exhibiting at some Guild events. 
I went on developing my glass fusing skills and applied to the Guild for a second craft and am now recognised for Mixed Media and Glass Collage. I make fused glass pictures, panels, waves, curves, plates, dishes and other unique glass collage art. I am good with colour and design so was thrilled to find another medium to engage my passion for play and creativity as I allow the rich colours and textures of glass to inspire me. 
We’ve been working hard in the background with Oliver at It’seeze to make the Guild website more current and user friendly in a modern world. As well as being a platform for information about the Guild and what we do for the general public, it will enable our makers to book events, renew their membership and even submit their vote for the AGM online. 
Our site uses cookies. For more information, see our cookie policy. Accept cookies and close
Reject cookies Manage settings