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Workroom Profile: Peter Hone, Master Plaster Caster

8 May 2014
Ben Pentreath
11 Comments

I’m never normally overwhelmed but on first walking into Peter Hone’s flat with Ben around five years ago, I was dumbstruck, my jaw hit the floor – I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Peter was fussing around in the kitchen preparing coffee and the cake we had taken him and I suspect giving us a moment to try to take it all in. Five years on and many more visits later I still find it difficult to believe there exists a place so overwhelmingly beautiful, and it’s essentially a one bedroom flat in Notting Hill.

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The overwhelming first view on entering Peter’s flat. Check out the tablecloth and lampshade.

Our first visit all that time ago, when we were still fledgling shop keepers, was to see if he would like us to sell his architectural plaster casts. To our delight he was immediately onboard, and has been a great source of inspiration, education, mystification and entertainment ever since. Have you ever been to one of our street parties where Peter has rolled up in his Volvo, festooned in his plaster leaves, and given people an impromptu tour around whatever happens to be in the boot of the car?

The most recent visit I made to Peter’s was in aid of the second instalment of this, my Workroom Profile series, to try and get a better understanding of his world.

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‘Do you call yourself an artist?’

‘Artist? Fartist!’

‘Well what do you call yourself?’

‘A Master Plaster Caster!’

‘How did it all begin, Peter?’

‘In my very first job I had to light the stoves at 5.30 in the morning. A great range of stoves. And I slept in a stable lit by a star in a little iron bed that a horse looked over from behind one of those half doors. I was freezing but the lilacs were magnificent in spring. I started as a chef, icing cakes at Gleneagles, nothing’s changed actually. I’ve never really adhered to any particular style, I’ve just gone wherever the wind has blown me.’

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‘My dear old friend David Ball had a great role in influencing my taste. We started up a shop in Debenham, Suffolk, dealing antiques – we didn’t make any money but we had a lot of fun. Next was a shop in Camden Passage, it was a riot. The stuff. The stuff! I was doing beds then, big four-poster beds. I sold beds to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones all the aristocracy and their mistresses, all of them.

‘After that I was a tour guide in Westminster, when Jacob Rothschild found me. Janet Shand Kydd was running his little shop but retiring. I was asked to go and see him for an interview. I said, “No! You come to me for tea!” He poured his coffee into his saucer and drank out of that but I didn’t copy him, you must be original.’ It was then Peter was given the task of organising and opening Clifton Nurseries, which he ran until he retired.

This is when the collecting of architectural fragments really came into its own.

‘With all this stuff all over the place, I decided to cast them,’ he explains. Author Peggy Reynolds was his first customer. ‘She had just written a book called Sappho, I made her a copy of my Sappho plaque, and that was the first thing I ever did.’

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Sappho, the first mould Peter took, next to it in the bell jar are some charred remains of London Bridge that burnt down during the Great Fire of 1666.

It carried on from there and it all happens in his flat: the living room doubles as his studio. He boasts a collection of over 3,000 casts, and has been known to say he’s taken more casts than a ‘Pea podder has podded peas in a pea podding factory’.

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Peter’s enviable collection of Creamware can easily be overlooked among the surrounding profusion – but it shouldn’t.

The latex moulds are by and large stored off site; when needed they are brought in and the wet plaster casts are stacked up and left to dry next to a heater under the dining table. Despite the rather overwhelming surroundings, the way he works is very regimented (and extraordinarily dust free).

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‘Show me the tools of the trade, Peter.’ ‘No one sees anything! Well, here you are then…’ A bucket and a bag of plaster.
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The latest thing, a Gothick obelisk. Should the pineapple finial be replaced by a flame?
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This gargantuan Griffin Plaque has just been cast and is now available to order from Pentreath & Hall – do enquire within.
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The Griffins lifted off the Griffin plaque to be installed on a wall on their own.
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Table top jollies, life should be filled with these.

All those years ago we made a selection that we have carried in the shop ever since. From the bronze composite figs and walnuts he made while on holiday in France that fit in one’s pocket to the commissioning of a vast collection to adorn a wall, everything is possible with Peter Hone.

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A Honeysuckle Plaque we’ve had made in ‘Hone Stone’, which is suitable for outdoor use.
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Leaves gathered from the local square and cast.
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One could not pass through the hallway without noticing this 18th-century tailor’s sign propped up in the books.

How can I not share with you a view of the hallway down to his summer bedroom.

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As a treat, here is a sneak peak at Peter’s summer bedroom. A perfect room we could happily never leave.

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Peter has cast a number of these historical plaques and we sell them; he is looking for the Duke of Wellington to complete the collection if anyone can help.

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I hope you have enjoyed my second instalment featuring one of our many shop suppliers; do let me know if there is anyone in particular you would like me to profile. I have a good idea about who to move onto next, at the same time I’d like to show you the process that goes into conceiving a scented candle as I have two coming to fruition. We‘ll have to wait and see.

Looking back through the shop archives, I couldn’t help but share a couple of incarnations of the back wall of our shop, lovingly referred to as the ’Hone Museum‘.

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If you would like any more information on Peter or have a serious interest in commissioning a series of plaster works then please do contact us.

11 comments on this post

Kathtsays:

Really enjoyed visiting your work!

What a marvelous post!! There’s something about the combination of pure, still white plaster and swirling acanthus ornamentation that is so captivating. Everything about Peter’s place is captivating, in fact. Thanks for the visit, and the inspiration!

Cheers,

Diane

Mirandasays:

I would love to see how the decoupage process works, you, John Derian….

Jennifersays:

“In my very first job I had to light the stoves at 5.30 in the morning. A great range of stoves. And I slept in a stable lit by a star in a little iron bed that a horse looked over from behind one of those half doors. I was freezing but the lilacs were magnificent in spring.”

I read this and couldn’t believe. Who speaks like this?? What a creature. Amazing, improbable, brilliant. Thank you for the photos, I am in love with the first photo, all the plaster all around, ornate, gorgeous, intricate, and then this perfect white cloth chair, perfect pale pink pillow, perfect striped cloth tablecloth – I would never have put all those things together but I look at it and think this is a perfect room, it is gorgeous and has this strange brilliant complementarity and is just so visually soothing and stunning. I am so impressed and so glad that this master plaster caster exists out there in the world. Heartening, strengthening, like looking at one of van Gogh’s paintings just without the tangles. Thank you so much for posting this.

Alexissays:

Beautiful work. I would love to have one of those incredible cast leaves! This new series on the blog is a very exciting one – looking forward to more.

should london ever succumb to an earthquake…that guy’s in truh-ble.

i love you. your blog is one of my favorites in the universe.

and there are a lot of blogs out there. so, well done you.

Pierre B.says:

“Extraordinary dust free”? Astonishing!
Thank you for such a captivating post. Can’t wait for the next one.

Deb millersays:

OMG crayzee! Think I need a second cup of coffee before I can absorb all this over the top plaster fun!

Oh my goodness, too much gorgeousness and loved every moment of this post. I could easily move into this enchanting place. I seriously would never tire of looking at every corner full of treasures. It reminds me of Soane’s house, which I pay a visit to each time I travel to London. On every visit, there is something new to discover.

I wonder if Peter would be interested in casting a larger version of the Soane bracket in addition to the one available (that I am sure is accurately sized to the original)?

Brandplanssays:

Thank you for this fascinating post. I do love Peter Hone’s work. I’ve even made the pilgrimage to his workshop at the Three Pigeons when your stock was low; my husband thought I was bonkers but is now also a fan.

I wish Peter would cast some more female plaques. You already sell Queen Victoria and Sappho but I long for Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Mrs Gaskell and Mary Wollstonecraft. Please, pretty please, Peter?

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