On 10th – 12th September this year, the Beatrix Potter Society, which exists to promote the study and appreciation of Beatrix Potter’s life and works, held their 18th biennial conference at the Castle Green Hotel, Kendal. This year, the 100th anniversary of female suffrage, the organisers arranged a ‘marketplace’ of entrepreneurial women living, working and creating in the Lake District to be a part of the conference. Those involved were: Maria Benjamin (The Soap Dairy), Jo McGrath (illustrator and photographer, Yew Tree Farm & Herdwicks Cafe & Bistro, Coniston), Charlotte Chaplin (Herdwick Tweeds), Alice Houghton (Ellis and Eliza embroidered design), Amanda Mudge (Something Precious ceramic jewellery) – and me.
It’s worth noting here that Cumbria is full of entrepreneurial, energetic and inspiring women – we really represented a small piece of a much wider picture!
As a result of this conference, I found myself at the lovely Yew Tree Farm in Coniston two weeks ago. This beautiful farm is not only a local gem, but also featured as ‘Hill Top’ in the movie ‘Miss Potter’, which follows the life of Lake District writer Beatrix Potter. After meeting and chatting with Jo McGrath at the conference, the idea of using Herdwick wool to texture wine glasses was born – and she happened to have a flock of Herdwick sheep on the farm, with plenty of wool to make use of!
While at the farm, I was also able to pick up a silver birch log to dig out, so that it could be blown into to make tumblers. Using locally sourced, sometimes unexpected, materials to use in the creation of my glasses is a key focus for me so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to experiment with materials which are so emblematic of the Lake District and its natural landscape.
When it came to creating the wine glasses, the wool I used was light in colour (herdwick wool starts off a chocolate brown for lambs and lightens as the sheep ages) and coarse, but twisted nicely. I pulled it into strands, twisted and curled it a bit to accentuate the herdwick sheep origin, before using it to add pattern to the glasses.
The result is an interesting texture, with the curl really standing out and giving interest to the glass. I like the decorative look, somehow simultaneously random and ordered, of this particular wine glass.
The tumblers blown into the hollowed-out silver birch log are equally pleasing. Smoother in texture but with plenty of character, they feel lovely in the hand and are a pleasure to use. I like my glasses to enhance and complement a drink, and these do just that.
These Herdwick wool wine and prosecco glasses are now for sale in Herdwicks Cafe & Bistro, Coniston, along with the ‘silver birch log’ tumblers.