Every year, Selvedge hosts several all-inclusive residential craft workshops at Chateau Dumas, a private estate with 18th-century interiors, a large pool and glorious panoramic views - set amongst rolling hills in the peaceful, scenic countryside less than an hour north of Toulouse international airport. Owned and run by Lizzie Hulme, the Chateau is a place where you can relax, unwind and be truly creative.
Jessica Edney has interviewed next year's Chateau Dumas tutors. Today she speaks to Jeremy and Carla Bonner from Bonner Leather Studio. They will be teaching Bag of Tricks, Contemporary Leatherwork in August 2019.
How did you both meet?
We have known each other for 28 years. We met when we were both living in London & have worked together for the past 15 years.
What inspired you to start designing leather accessories?
It came in a roundabout route after Jeremy had neurosurgery. He had to have a year recuperating and thanks to a local charity he had funding for craft courses as therapy. He originally wanted to make straps for some willow work and found some evening classes at PREMA Uley. Carla had to drive me so signed up to. The seed was set - we spent a year on the kitchen table honing our basics skills, and then had 18 months in a workshop at the local art centre NBA Cirencester. There we were able to concentrate on design and launched Bonner Leather Studio in 2015.
Can you describe a typical day?
Our studio is 4 miles north of Cirencester, we have a chat over a cuppa and see what we have planned for the week. If we need to talk to or visit suppliers we make the necessary arrangements. We source our leather as locally as possible, Thomas Wares in Bristol, A&A Cracks & Metropolitan Leather in Northampton, and for brassware, we go to Abbey England in Walsall. The rest of the day is usually geared to what we have coming up - exhibitions, shows, teaching - and set about making patterns, templating, course outlines etc.
What will you be teaching at Chateau Dumas?
We shall be hosting an introductory course. It will show how leather can be worked with a series of core hand skills, and make a couple of small pieces to put them into practice. The week will culminate with everyone making a leather bag.
Do you have any advice for people who would like to get into leatherwork but don’t know where to begin?
There are workshops, courses and night classes out there and a quick web search or visit your local art/craft centre is a good way to see if you have anything local. It is how we started, 6 weeks of evening classes.
To find out more about Chateau Dumas and available courses, please visit www.selvedge.org/collections/workshops-at-chateau-dumas