“I met someone from Casty Cobb’s workshop, quite by chance, and she set up an interview for me. I was met by Casty at the door of her family home and her workshop. Tea was served, and I was aware that my measure was being taken by this elegant, fiercely intelligent, and charming lady. Well, next week, there I was, in the company of a group of women who would become my companions and friends for the next four years. (I didn’t know it then, but I was the last person to be admitted into Casty’s shop.)
We all worked side by side, chatting, sometimes in silence, to the sounds of hammers tapping. It was heaven. The workshop had benches for about ten people. It was rather dark, somewhat Victorian, lots of books in cabinets and eccentric objects and pictures on the shelves and walls. . .
Casty would pop in from time to time with a piece of jewelry or art from her travels. She showed and demonstrated her wonderful pique work on cutlery handles and on boxes she had made. I had never seen this technique and was fascinated as to how she could accomplish this with just a few tools.
Often Casty would show us objects from her collection to illuminate an idea or a technique, but just as often it was a challenge. Mostly to me, as I was the Yank. I remember her setting a piece on my bench saying, “You must do this, dear.” I remember, on having completed one of her challenges, she said to me quietly, “Very able work.” High praise from a woman who did not throw out compliments or suffer fools. From then on, she escalated—more tests. I loved every minute!
I learned so much from Casty, not just the older traditional techniques but how to just get on with it as one ages.
Lunch in Casty’s kitchen was always so interesting. Lots of ordinary chat at her table in front of the big, warm, beige Aga, hot coffee in her red mugs, but every now and then the conversation would turn to the war years and darker times. Many of the women in the workshop were also “of an age” and would share their experiences and memories. Always the same end to these musings—“mustn’t grumble, back to work.” Another life lesson I hadn’t expected”. Recollections of Gina Dunlap written in 2019