A selection of handpainted boxes and a candlestick

Some handpainted pieces

At Box Cottage Industry, I  make handmade room-divider screens and handpainted boxes, floorcloths and other artefacts.  

In 2002, my partner and I  moved into an old, but badly abused, cottage in West Dorset  and began to try and restore some of the character that had been ripped out of it in the sixties.  (You might like to have a look at local photographer Matt Dyer’s site for views of the beautiful West Dorset area and some lovely photos generally.)  

I started to research how it would have been decorated and furnished when it was built in the early 1800s but unable to afford valuable antique furniture and linens, I looked for sympathetic designs from the 20s and 30s. This was mainly a because I had inherited some household linens from my mother dating from then, which had sentimental value for me and I wanted to use them in the house. In researching, I rediscovered 1920s designs and those of the period immediately before WW1—particularly the designs of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and the Omega Workshops. I knew these from art school where I studied textile design and found them interesting as an alternative to relentless Cath Kidstonised design that seemed to be compulsory for old cottages!  

I started Box Cottage Industry in 2008, using my 30+ years of experience of working as a designer, craftswoman and art teacher.  I got the idea when I made a room divider screen for myself and had requests to do the same for friends and decided that this might be an idea worth pursuing but we were short of usable space in the house  so we turned our old shed into a studio, which because of wet weather, pressure of my partner’s work and the arrival of Mabel, took a long time.  

Mabel

Mabel

Meanwhile, I started painting the boxes using the designs I had found in my research as inspiration. I had bought some wooden storage boxes for use at home but decided they were too nice as objects to just varnish and I began to see if I could mimic the Omega Workshops designs. As usual, when you try to emulate someone elses style,  it doesnt work out, but I was pleased with the results and kept going.  

More research resulted in the discovery of  floorcloths, an American craft with its own set of traditional designs which didnt interest me so much but the idea of painted floorcoerings did!  

   

Now were up and running and making room divider screens, hand painted floorcloths and boxes, ‘off the peg’ and to commission. Have a look and contact me if you would like to buy any of the art objects here or if you would like to commission me to make something to your on specifications. 

  

  

  

Carolyn Stewart 

  

  

 

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