Just me, playing with rocks again...

From being a child I have been always been fascinated with rocks and minerals. Even in my early years at primary school I vividly remember picking fossils out of the dirt track at the side of the school field at break times. 

My grandparents on both sides, gave me mineral specimens as a child, which I have kept for nearly 50 years,  both of which by complete coincidence turn out to be from Derbyshire.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I actually decided to pursue my geological interests as a possible career path. So I took an Open University diploma in earth sciences. At the same time I got a part time job as a cavern guide at the Blue-John cavern in Derbyshire and it was there that the adventure really began.

During my 10 years at the Blue-John cavern (in multiple roles) and further two and a half years at Treak Cliff cavern just over the hillside , I discovered my affinity for carving and working stone alongside actually mining it. Often during the winter months out of the busy tourist season, I was often set to work preparing polished specimens and objects made from Blue John stone that I’d actually mined the year previously.  It gave me a profound sense of connectedness with the material. 

I also had the unique opportunity to work with some of the last remaining Blue-John master craftsmen. The old timers, then in their 70’s and 80’s who knew things not written in any book. Lives of experience , dedicated to the trade. It was not lost on me. I was so engrossed in my work by then that  “mining” these men (and women) for their stories, knowledge, secrets and tricks of the trade was a joyous time for me and pivotal to my decision to spend the rest of my life to try and keep this centuries old and most British craft alive.

My knowledge and skillset has also taken me further afield. After featuring in several TV programmes during my time working at the Blue-John Cavern, I was asked by several people to provide an ‘Expert ‘ Blue-John consultation service.  I have subsequently provided services for several National museums and stately houses and provided expertise to some of the world’s finest and respected art and antique dealers.

Over the years I have made more chalices, bowls, obelisks, candle sticks and polished specimens than I could count. But every single piece was a journey and relationship established over days or even weeks with the materials I work.

My love for Britain's wildlife has also been much of a life long passion. From grass snakes, slo worms, lizards, newts, frogs, rabbits, owls and even a bat. I came home with them all alive in my pockets as a child. I enjoyed it all a second time around with my own children.  The shapes and sculptures of natural Britain providing much of the inspiration in my work.  These are shapes that come easily. The distinctive shapes and variations of our beloved British wildlife. From every angle, these forms etched into my mind from hours of childhood observations. 


Richard Haw