John Smedley Craft Prize Winner!

I’m delighted to be the first John Smedley Craft Prize Winner! Keep reading to find out what winning was like and how the first part of the prize is shaping up!

What is the John Smedley Craft Prize?

“The John Smedley Craft Prize in partnership with The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust seeks to inspire and nurture British craftspeople who have honed exceptional skills across any discipline and who produce beautiful objects using traditional skills. Our aim is to value and understand craftsmanship on a wider scale and to help support craftspeople as they continue a legacy of traditional workmanship whilst creating contemporary products that capture attention on an international scale”

 “The prize for the winning entry is valued at £15,000 and includes a cash prize, bespoke commission of works, an exhibition in London, UK and Kyoto, Japan including travel and accommodation plus the chance to retail their products across John Smedley’s UK & Japan stores. The winner will also benefit from business mentoring sessions with each of the judges”

 As I’m sure you can imagine I’m incredibly excited to have won such a wonderful prize! I’ve still slightly got that feeling that things like this happen to other people, not me!!

Zoe Working on a piece of stone with the John Smedley logo over the top

Photo:Asia Werbel for the John Smedley 235 project

Who Could Enter?

The competition was open to Queen Elizabeth Trust Alumni. The application included a range of in-depth questions about our craft and the ethos behind our business. A panel of judges then selected five finalists’.  It was then down to the public to vote for their favourite craftsperson to win.

What Does it Feel Like Winning?

To be honest I’m not entirely sure it’s quite sunk in yet! It was an incredibly close competition, John Smedley received thousands of votes. Although I had an early lead, the craftsmen in second and third place were hot on my heels! 

I was blown away by the amount of support I received. Such a fantastic number of people voted for me, it was a really amazing experience.

I’m very excited to see how the next year pans out and I’m ready as always to work hard to make the most of such an amazing opportunity.

I’m also really excited about a trip to Japan in September! I would love to learn more about the Japanese culture, and take influence from wonderful Japanese patterns and craft.  


Portland Limestone sphere carved with a geometric pattern

One of my new stone spheres called ‘Arc’ which will be exhibited with John Smedley in May

What’s QEST?

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) supports the training and education of talented and aspiring craftspeople through traditional college courses, vocational training, apprenticeships and one-to-one training with a master craftsperson; helping to support Britain’s cultural heritage and sustain vital skills in traditional and contemporary crafts.

What is your craft?

I’m a stone carver with a passion for carving complex geometric patterns. I’ve worked with stone for over 12 years now, (you can read about my training here) I’m passionate about working with British stones and continuing the traditional craft of stone carving. I would love to help raise the profile of carving, so that more people can learn and enjoy the wonderful process.

Zoe and her mum eating ice cream and smiling

‘Flourish’ hand carved in Welsh Slate

So What’s Next?

The first part of the prize is developing a product for John Smedley to sell in their stores. This will be in conjenction with an exhibition of my work in there flagship London store in Jermyn Street during London Craft Week

Developing a prodcut is quite a differnt venture for me as I’m used to making bespoke pieces or limited edition runs.

Initally I was a little concered about how I could achieve anything in volume. However, now I’m really excited about how its developing and the new direction this has enabled me to explore!

I’m working with a stone company who use CNC machines to shape stone. I’ve worked on a desgin which incorporates my love of geometric patterns with a Japanese influence too. The pattern will the be cut into the stone to create the product!

We’re just at the designing stage at the moment, but it’s been really great to get to know a local company better and I’m finding it fascinating learning what can be achieved by a machine, and it’s limitation too!

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