Hello, I’m Lynn and my confession is that I’m addicted to making things! I hope to help you bring more creativity into your world too.
If I have a need for something and that something can be handmade, I like to try if I have the equipment and time to hand. This means my home, wardrobe and garden are as full of my handmade things as much as my kitchen cupboards and dinner table is laden with my food.
I’m a self-taught baker, confectioner, cook, bread maker and fresh pasta artisan. I have an honours 3D Theatre Design degree (from which I have a multitude of skills from welding and carpentry to clothes pattern cuttern and scene design) and I have worked as a web/graphic designer and copywriter for 25 years.
I’ve been cooking, baking and making bread and pasta for around 30 years now (starting in my late teens). I have lots of my own recipes and a surprising amount of experience and expertise for someone who doesn’t make a living out of food. I have featured on Nadiya’s Family Favourites (BBC 2 episode three, 30th July 2018) regarding my pasta making.
I have some Italian heritage, the Italian side coming through my father’s family (my sister has traced our Italian line as far back as a birth in 1771 so far in Lucca, Toscana). I had two Italian recipe recipe books as a 19 year old that set me on my way to being a pasta addict: Ada Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking and Luigi Carnacina’s Great Italian Cooking. At that pre-Internet time, I spent many hours in libraries scouring for Italian recipes and researching old photos and drawings of handmade pasta to copy the more unique shapes from. When fancy packs of coloured pasta started appearing in delis in the 90s (although spinach, tomato, beetroot and sepia were already common colours years before then) I’d buy a pack to copy from and experiment with fruit and vegetable dyes. I still do this, as new shapes and colours still appear in delis – for instance I recently found some oversized sombreroni in multi coloured stripes that inspired me to make these (right).
You don’t need a relative (close or obscure) to enjoy cooking and eating a specific cuisine or even making it your specialism and if you want to learn (pasta or any cuisine technique) it’s so much easier now than it was 20 or 30 or more years ago thanks to the Internet. The best resources for pasta are on YouTube: search for something like “handmade pasta in Italy” or just watch the pastagrannies. For major colour inspiration follow Salty Seattle on Instagram. The most perfect shaped pasta belongs to David Marcelli. For the two ladies who literally wrote the books that brought pasta to Britain search out Anna Del Conte and Ursula Ferrigno (Ursula is also still teaching).
I love continually learning so to extend my pasta knowledge a few years ago I started making my own tools – just like the pasta I thought if someone else can make this, then I can have a go (it helps I did a degree with a lot of carpentry and metal work skills in!). So far I have carved cavarola boards, gnocchetti boards, corzetti stamps, pasta wheels, made rolling pins, garganelli combs, various pasta drying racks, woven rattan baskets and I am currently half way through making a chitarra pasta cutter (which I have even worked out how to include a tightening mechanism).
I have also been making bread by hand – and baking in general – also since my late teens. I have a bit of a thing for plaiting, scoring and stencilling bread, as these bring even more craft and art into the process of bread making. I first started making bread (sourdough) with wild yeast when my twins were weaning on to solid food. As they were very premature I made all their baby food by hand and tried to ensure ingredients were of the best, freshest and safest quality and of nutritional value to them. This lead me to read up about wild yeast and I started making sourdough – my twins are now in University so you can see how long I’ve dabbled in sourdough bread making, though typically I only make a loaf a week because of the time frames involved in slove prove bread.
Crafts, art, design and gardening
I have a passion for learning how to do new things and a desire to make anything by hand that I can, rather than just go buy it.
This desire to ‘have a go’, coupled with all that I learnt at art school has given me the skills to: sew and pattern cut; embroider; crochet; knit; woodwork, including carving and turning wood; weave wicker work and basketry; work in leather, metal and plastics; sculpt; illustrate; build scale models; lino print; produce calligraphy; paint in oils, acrylic and watercolour; take DSLR photography and style for photographic shoots and many general crafts.
A lot of what I do now in terms of preserving, foraging and gardening stems from my family growing up. Gardening, especially herbs, edible plants and vegetables is important to me and I learnt my gardening through our family owning an allotment throughout my childhood.
Our household had to be frugal, so allotment veggies that weren’t eaten we had to store, freeze or preserve in some way. My mother was also a keen forager and would help me identify edible plants, and I would go with my father cockle and razor clam hunting or samphire picking on the Norfolk coast.
Both these foraging activities of which have stayed with me and I do get a thrill out of finding free food (though I still don’t trust myself mushroom picking).
My family were also major crafters, making do or mending rather than buying and I’ve definitely carried on this tradition.
I love to interact with people (I’m a bit chatty) so please leave me a comment. Nothing makes me happier than to know someone has enjoyed making a recipe of mine, tried a craft project or found any of the information in here of use.
Lynn Clark 💙
[Updated Jan 2019]