1. BHL



Earlier this month we spoke to Liz Huband aka, Badger House Leather – who has had a busy few weeks moving into her new studio at Black Swan Arts!

This Frome-based designer-maker shares her thoughts on market trading, her love of the Somerset countryside and how to get your beans to grow by talking to them!

Hi Liz! Tell us a bit about you and your business.

I’ve always been a maker I guess. I have an insatiable need to understand how things are made.  So trying to turn this need into a business might have been inevitable! …I’ve always loved the process of turning a raw material into something purposeful and I think  my interest in leather really came about from my experience of turning a small area of waste land, backing onto an industrial area,  into a fruitful small holding. We grew our own food and reared a few animals. I couldn’t reconcile that any part of an animal killed for food should be wasted, (Leather is still a by product from the meat industry). Years later when a friends interest in leather work led to us to undertaking a short course. I haven’t seemed to stop since! It was destiny I think.

Where do you get your inspiration – what motivates you to do what you do? 

I guess personally – my constant drive to make purposeful things! Combined with a love of the natural environment – Led me to celebrate the rugged character of traditional vegetable tanned leather. Vegetable tanned leather tends to show more of the natural life and character of the animal. As a material leather it’s extremely hard wearing, ages beautifully with the character of the animal, owner and designer all rolled into one – making each piece tell its own unique story! I love that.

On a intellectual level there must simply be a better way to do things? A way that avoids exploiting the developing world, a way that focuses on sustainability and environmentally friendly production, a way that provides quality long lasting products, using natural materials, rather than churning out throw away items. A way that celebrates individuality and small batch local production over the mass produced. The only way we can see if this is the possible is by us as ‘makers’ offering customers a meaningful alternative.

Why did you choose to come and trade at the Frome Independent?

Cause I live ere! I’m not a Frome native, but I feel like Frome is very much home. I originally come from Essex but moved to Somerset 6 years ago to be close to my partner’s family.  We have felt completely welcomed into the community, and the arts community has been an amazing support. For me the Frome independent is very much part of that community.

What do you like about market trading?

As a maker (and constant fidget!) I spend a lot of time alone in my workshop and it’s actually really important to get to meet customers in person. I love the fact people are interested in where the leather I use comes from. 

Much of my work tends to be bespoke commissions and so it’s a great opportunity to talk through ideas in a really relaxed environment. There is often quite an involved story to the things I make, which can get lost through online selling, talking in person means you can join the dots up! 

Several customers have asked to see my hands to see if it really is me that makes everything! The callouses and small cuts confirms that it is  indeed me. I really appreciate the integrity of folks who genuinely want to know where their things come from. I find this so refreshing and I think signify a change culturally in how we do things – slow fashion over mindless consumerism – it’s gotta be good!

Finally I really like meeting other makers! There are so many great artists and designers in this area and this is both humbling and inspiring in equal measure.

What’s your  favourite product? Tell us about the work goes into it…

It’s hard to choose! All of my products are made as much by hand as possible . These diaries are quite a special entirely hand made item. Made using traditional skills and techniques to make something classically beautiful. I know we are moving towards electronic versions, but I just think they are very lovely things. I made a couple initially, as I found the most perfect leather – a soft vegetable tanned Tuscan leather full of character. Both soft and tactile yet strong and robust. I then happened to meet David Golby. A retired teacher from Nunney who has taken to wood turning In his retirement. He makes the most beautiful hand turned wooden pens – often from wood from Westonbirt arboretum! David kindly agreed to make a small batch of pens to accompany these diaries – How’s about that for provenance! it felt like these two creations were literally destined to go together. To me this felt like a real design triumph – they were exactly as I wanted them to be. 

What is your favourite Frome shop, or stall to visit at The Frome Independent?

There’s so many to choose from. I really love the shops on Catherine Hill –  especially Life of Riley – I like everything about it! It’s full of lovely things but also it’s a very grounding shopping experience. The Frome Hardware shop is also a personal favourite.

In terms of stalls-  I really like the gentleman’s art prints who’s often on Catherine Hill – David Daniels. He does Wiltshire and Somerset landscapes in a particular style and uses colour so well. I have bought a couple over the years. I love the countryside here and I spend as much time in it as I can! These pictures take to me to some of my favourite places – That’s a really unusual talent to be able to create that sense of connection! …..and the delicious dumplings [from Ah-Ma’s] and bao buns [from Kinori]  – there’s always a queue, but it’s so worth it! Finally, my favourite person to visit in the flea market is the cutlery stall — Charlie’s Curios. 

And finally, some quick fire questions….

Favourite book?

I love the Tales of The City books [by Armistead Maupin]; if I feel blue I re-read these and imagine hanging out with Mrs Madrigal. 

Describe your dream day off.

Maybe an early run out towards Mells by the river. Then an explore with my partner and 2 dogs somewhere wild and pretty –  maybe some time in the garden, followed by supper at the High Pavement, finished off  by a few beers at any number of the lovely pubs in Frome – this sounds like a pretty good day to me. 

What are you listening to right now? 

Baby Brother, by Mattiel at this exact moment!  

What are you cooking and eating right now.

Loads and loads of greens! We are growing lots of broad beans and I bloody love them! These are my all time favourite home grown vegetable! I talk to them regularly to encourage them….

Badger House Leather can now be found in our Designer-Maker section on market days.  You can also join Liz for a belt-making workshop on Wednesday 25th September. Click here for more information on how you can book.