Watching someone noticing Anne’s bellows for the first time is to see a whole range of emotions as they are captivated by the soft warm glow in the unique character of the wood – the tentative reaching out to touch the smoothness and the happiness when encouraged to pick them up and ‘have a blow’! Anne never fails to be touched by these reactions to her work.
Knowing she wants every finished bellows to trigger the same reaction, Anne takes time searching for woods that have interesting features she can bring out to give each one its own distinctive quality. An interesting knot, a ripple that gives an almost 3D effect, an unusual or appealing grain…Each piece carefully checked so it is true and flat, and that the most interesting part can be featured in a bellows. Sometimes Anne can be surprised when she reaches the polishing of the bellows and their character is fully revealed - no wonder she loves watching people’s faces when they see them!
Anne spends many hours using traditional tools to shape and smooth the wood so it sits comfortably in the hands and works effectively. The type of wood and the particular traits that become apparent also influence the leather that Anne chooses – ensuring a sympathetic and functional combination of wood and leather, and to provide that satisfying ‘whoosh’ down the custom designed nozzle.
The bellows come out of the workshop with the distinct smell of leather and the patina of home made natural oil and beeswax polish to bring another smile to a face with memories of using bellows or pleasure to someone who appreciates the quality of the work and the pleasing feel of her bellows.
See those for sale and a gallery at https://www.firesidebellows.com/
------- Maker Member Heritage Crafts and Crafts Council -------- Recipient of a 2021 SME Made In Britain Award -------
The more artistic side of Anne is expressed through her DIGITAL ART. Local legends and myths are prevalent in her work – such as Lord Berners’ Folly, Wayland the Smith, The Ridgeway White Horse, and Spitfires - as well as cheeky bears and her dynamic Sport Series. “Interesting and eclectic mix” of digital art, as expressed by an Artweeks visitor, probably describes it best! Anne's digital art can be viewed at https://www.annemills.net/