Meet the Maker | Mark Tallowin, TALLOWIN

Each week we ‘meet a maker’ from within the Walpole membership, shining a light on the highly skilled craftspeople and designers creating British luxury products and experiences. Today, introducing Mark Tallowin, Designer/Craftsman at TALLOWIN and a Walpole Crafted alumnus from 2015.

Tell us what you do?

I’m a leather worker who is focused (some might say obsessed) with one seemingly simple thing – making the finest handbags available. I run TALLOWIN, a one-man label which offers a very limited number of models, currently just five designs, all made to order and all hand-crafted by myself from start to finish. This intense focus means I can direct all my energy into each bag whilst continuing to perfect the designs themselves. I only complete about fifteen bags each year as they are so labour intensive. They are only offered in one colour, black, and only with one choice of hardware; solid brass, plated in 24-karat pure gold to ensure many decades of warm glow. Each new commission takes a few months to create whilst I source the materials, polish the hardware, hand-cut the leather and slowly hand-stitch the components into the finished form. It’s true that it is a labour of love.

Tell us why you love it? 

I love what I do and whilst I wear many hats, above all other things I’m a craftsman. For me the joy of ‘craft’ is not just the material connection that you feel with your work, it’s also about keeping the relationship between the ‘design’ and ‘production’ incredibly close. There’s an exhilarating rhythm : conceive – create – refine – hone – perfect. To be able to make something which should out-live you is a great honour as well as a challenge. I live with my work so closely and over such a long time that I begin to understand it as a client might. Some of my greatest pleasure are those unexpected letters from clients expressing how much they cherish their long-awaited handbag. They really mean the world to me after so long working on something.