Less is Máire

A bowl from the woodturning course

If Máire Condron seems familiar then it may be that you have seen her in one of her many guises, she is a founder of Victory Gin, a barista at Wood Street Coffee, and a regular maker at Blackhorse, often assisting on the woodturning courses. She is all about sustainable design and function and has managed to combine all three roles into one. 

‘I first came to Blackhorse when I started working for Gareth Reid at Wood Street Coffee on a part time basis to supplement my income, I’m now pleased to say that Blackhorse has become a bigger part of my life than I expected and I’m looking forward to spending more time making.’   

A finished bowl

Máire graduated in 2013 with a BA Hons in Decorative Arts, upcycling scrap wood, leather and cotton paired with sustainable materials like cork. She has continued researching the use of other sustainable materials by using the process of lathe turning to create a range of products from otherwise waste material. 

‘As much as I love the process of lathe turning, despite the use of scrap materials, I still find it very wasteful. So much of what you start off with ends up as shavings all over the floor or yourself.’ 

Being incredibly resourceful, Máire has found a way to integrate the waste botanicals from the London based botanical distillery, Victory she founded with her husband. The spent botanicals from the gin making processes were initially sent to a pig-farmer in Kent as feed, turns out the residual alcohol made for tipsy pigs! 

Instead, Máire now plans to dehydrate the botanicals and cast them into functional objects using Jesmonite, a durable, light and non-solvent material. By creating moulds of vessels that have been formed on the wood lathe, she will then make casts with Jesmonite, creating a more sustainable design whilst maintaining the original forms. 

‘It would be really cool to integrate my work at the distillery with my work at Blackhorse.’  

Discover more about Máire’s distillery and look out for her work in the coming months. 


A cork, leather and oak composite light

Step it Up – New Course Alert

We are introducing some new courses in the coming months, our first new addition will be a new Beyond Basics course, an intermediate level course making a wooden step-stool from American Oak and Birch Plywood.

Starting on the 30th May and running for eight weeks, this course will introduce you to a broader spectrum of workshop equipment and furniture-making techniques. Using a range of hand, power and machine tools, you’ll learn to construct a very handy step-stool. Similar to the skills covered on the Beyond Basics: Table-making course, tutor Toby Poolman will show you how to mark out and cut a set of dovetail joints, you’ll also use power tools such as the electric router to make your piece. Every session combines teacher-led demonstrations with 1:1 tuition ensuring learners of all abilities are supported according to their individual needs.

Toby is our resident wood technician, he originally trained as a furniture designer/maker, and has since worked as furniture maker, timber-framed building craftsman and college lecturer.

Book your place here


SIDESHOW seems like a distant memory but you can relive the joy of Toby Poolman’s Marble Run through this immersive film by Immatters. An in depth look at the workings of the mechanical installation that took centre stage at SIDESHOW, the film magnifies the industrial soundscape and movements of the marbles’ journey.

Constructed from old bus parts and a rusting grain auger, Toby designed the Marble Run as an interactive installation for the SIDESHOW project that lived opposite Blackhorse Rd station on Forest Road for six months last year.  SIDESHOW was a collaboration between Blackhorse Workshop and specialist regeneration company U+I with the design for the build led by Ehk! architects. Enjoy the clunk, clunk, whir all over again.

Immaters Marble Run


Thank You Party People!

A huge thank you to everyone that made Saturday’s birthday party such a fantastic night. We danced, we ate, we drank and we finally met the dinotastic Four-o-saurus.

We couldn’t have done it without you but special thanks must go out to WheelUp Sound system for getting everyone up dancing, Walthamstow Dogs for the best hot dogs in town, Lua Garcia for the amazing cake, our neighbour Peter for the cracking jerk chicken, Toby from Pulse Studios for the Four-o-saurus soundtrack, Adam Vaudin for the super cool posters and flyers, all the Blackhorse volunteers who helped on the bar and setting up (and tidying up!), the kids for painting our Dino and all the local community and members for supporting the workshop.

Bring on the Big Five!

Photos by Paul Cochrane

Keeping it Local!

We love getting involved with local businesses and have had two recent collaborations with Wildcard Brewery’s new bar on Lockwood Estate and the new venture from Forest Wines, Forest Bar and Kitchen

Our very own Workshop Manager Rob Fawcett built the wine shelving and benches at Forest Bar and Kitchen. The good people at Forest Wines have spent the last seven months turning a former estate agent adjacent to their shop into a beautiful new wine bar and restaurant. Working with a giant piece of London Plane, Rob helped transform it into a sharing table by building bespoke steel legs. Additional benches and bars were made with the remaining wood sitting on a steel frame. Drop by for a wine with some nduja fried bread and admire the décor.  

And if that’s not enough, designer and member Odel Jeffries has just finished building the bar for Wildcard’s latest brewery at Lockwood Way. Using key clamp scaffolding poles and boards with the help of our resident technician Enrique Melin, the 4.6m long bar began to take shape last week, another example of how building local relationships helps keep our little community growing. Wildcard will be having a grand opening this Saturday 3rd March, so pop by, grab a beer and check out Odel’s handiwork. 

Waltham Forest is the first London Borough of Culture 2019

We did it! Waltham Forest has been announced as the first ever London Borough of Culture 2019 by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

We were thrilled to be joined by the WF Culture team for the live stream at the workshop as the announcement was made this morning from City Hall.

Waltham Forest will receive over £1.3m of funding to deliver a range of projects over 2019 including a light installation called Molecules in the Marshes on the marshes, a Hitchcock festival, the UK’s largest high rise mural as well as investment in young people and career development within the creative industries. A steering group including Blackhorse Workshop’s Creative Director Harriet Warden presented their bid in December last year with the backing of over 14,000 Waltham Forest residents. Brent was also announced as the Borough of Culture for 2020. 

The mayor said, ‘Huge congratulations to Waltham Forest and Brent for their superb bids. I know that both will deliver a programme of work that will benefit residents and make the whole city proud. I am particularly happy to see both bids have placed such importance on young people. It’s vital that young people get access to culture, regardless of their background, so that they can aspire to be our performers, artists, entrepreneurs and cultural leaders of the future.’ 

Justine Simons Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries and Councillor Clare Coghill returned from City Hall to the Workshop with the award this afternoon to be greeted by the press and the team behind the bid. Well done Waltham Forest, 2019 promises to be a great year for the borough. Look out for announcements of exciting projects over the next few months.


Long ago in the dim and distant past there was an empty warehouse, a dirty yard, some old machinery and an enthusiastic bunch of makers who built a workshop.

Unbelievably now it’s time to celebrate our 4th birthday…so SAVE THE DATE for Saturday 10th March as we prepare for a night of revelry to mark this occasion. We’re looking forward to some musical mischief with live music from band King Hutch with DJs throughout the night courtesy of Dubroot, Bring the Beat Back and Vital Sound. Don’t miss the big reveal as we kick start proceedings at 7.30pm in spectacular fashion. And what’s more its free – and everyone welcome, so hope you can join us.

As usual we will be building a suitably fantastical structure to mark the occasion, and are calling for young hands to make light work of it. So on Saturday 3rd March we’ll be hosting a special afternoon activity for kids to get involved in bringing this magnificent FOUR-A-SAURUS to life…..click here to sign up for your ticket. 

‘I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few…’ William Morris

Blackhorse members Lola Lely and Laura Anderson have just been announced as the William Morris Gallery’s artists in residence for 2018. Lola, a multi-disciplinary designer/maker with a particular interest in using plants and other natural materials and Laura, a sculptor and professional woodcarver share a studio at the workshop. Laura has also recently started a Woodcarving for Beginners course at Blackhorse.

It was perhaps inevitable that a collaboration between the artists was on the cards. The joint residency came about when Laura and Lola’s use of traditional techniques shared a similar working process to the practices of William Morris. This unique opportunity will bring together their respective skills in design, textiles, woodcarving, drawing and modelling in new ways.

They will engage with the public with workshops and demonstrations that will celebrate the work and influence of William Morris but with a contemporary and local focus.

“Using the extensive archive collection of woodblocks, tapestries, textiles, stained glass and wallpapers as a starting point, we will experiment with different ways of using traditional processes – including carving, painting, casting and glasswork – to create a new set of handmade Morris-inspired designs in colours and objects which reflect something of the vibrant community of Walthamstow today.”

We look forward to following their journey over the coming months and sharing more details.

A Slice of Herb Palmer

Furniture maker Herb Palmer has been working with Homeslice Pizza on their newest restaurant, creating a glorious feast of burnt Douglas fir and steel. Their partnership began through the synergy of mutual homelands and friendships. Herb explains, I first met Ry Jessup, who started Homeslice, in 2015 or 2016. He is another Kiwi and when you come from that tiny island the whole ‘six degrees of separation’ theory can be whittled down to about two degrees.’

After graduating from The Cass, Herb started a furniture design business with Uni friend Thom Wilson, working from Blackhorse Workshop, it was at this time that he reconnected with Ry. ‘A few weeks after meeting him, Ry got in touch about getting me to make a new table base for their table that was falling apart.  I did that in an evening and from there more work started trickling in.

Clearly happy customers, Herb started making birch plywood pizza boards then oak tables, working up to a copper bar and then the courtyard seating area at the Old Street branch. In 2017 Thom moved to Brighton and Herb decided to go it alone.

‘Homeslice City quickly followed the Old St project and was my first solo undertaking. I think it was a bit of a leap of faith on the part of Ry and his business partners to give me the job – but I guess I had earned enough trust by that point.

Benefitting from the multi-talented members of Blackhorse Workshop, Herb joined forces with his fellow makers and set to work creating and delivering the main fit out with architects Path. The restaurant features simple and contemporary furniture which also manages to feel nostalgic, a modern take on an old diner classic. Booths made with Valchromat seating and burnt Douglas Fir tabletops sit alongside curved banquettes, functional and fun steel pizza box dispensers are suspended over the gantry.

With several projects are on the horizon, (and not just with Kiwis), Herb Palmer has a busy year ahead which he credits to word of mouth, but also the work clearly speaks for itself.

Visit www.herbpalmer.co.uk and follow him on instagram @herb_palmer_furniture

Blackhorse Burns Night

tartan horse homepage

Just to ensure excitement levels are kept high during this bleak midwinter, we’re celebrating Burns Night at the workshop on Thursday 25th January. Join us for a ceilidh with dancing, haggis and all round revelry. Tickets £20, and dress code strictly tartan (!), so hold onto those xmas scarves and socks…See you on the workshop dance floor.

Click here to book