Maker of the Month – September 2019

September is here… we are one step closer to Autumn and one step closer to Christmas! This month we are excited to introduce you to Rob Thornton, the person behind Cow Close Mill. Rob has been stocking at Handmade Design for a few years… adding new stock every few weeks!

People often ask Rob what it is he actually does – this is usually followed by a pause whilst he tries to define it himself! Starting out, Rob just made garden trugs, birdboxes and birdfeeders from reclaimed timber but over the years his range has expanded drastically! Since then, he has introduced animal chalkboards, wooden plaques, clocks, furniture and more to his product range! Rob also paints in acrylics which he later turns in to greetings cards and prints – each piece having its own story!

When thinking for a name for his eclectic business, he was inspired by the arts and crafts ethos and small scale making in workshops and mills. His own workshop is based at his family’s smallholding on Millway Lane.  The mill in question was a long vanished windmill and the nearest field to his workshop is called Cow Close so calling his little workshop ‘Cow Close Mill’ seemed just right!

After completing an undergrad in Architecture, Rob decided against pursuing a career as an Architect as he wanted a more hands-on lifestyle and career. Whilst he decided on his next steps, Rob moved back into the family smallholding and started working in a nearby farm-shop and café. The Owners were very encouraging and it was here that he first sold his products and artwork! Rob now stocks his work in a number of shops across Derbyshire and also regularly attended local craft fairs.

Everything Rob makes is handmade in his workshop on his grandads’ old workbench (which itself started out as a table over 100 years ago) - this could be where he got some of his creative flare from!

Rob is happy to take commissions – whether you are wanting a bespoke chalkboard shape, a one-off piece of furniture to fit in a certain space or a wooden sign with a particular phrase on.

Rob would like to pass on his thanks to his customers for supporting his little business over the years and allowing him to continue with a job and lifestyle he loves!