Meet the Maker: Godwin Vintage
Adam and Johnny from Godwin Vintage make ingenious hand-crafted lights using vintage objects, which they upcycle with meticulous attention to detail and great craftsmanship in their home studio in Scotland. Their lamps are inspired by their love of all things retro, from industrial style and Art Deco, right through to mid-century modern and pop art. Here they talk to fellow Folksy designer Dee from Oruki Designs about their process and influences, and how it all started…
Shop Godwin Vintage (with free shipping on all UK orders) on Folksy here – https://folksy.com/shops/GodwinVintage
Hi Adam and Johnny. I absolutely love your shop and quirky designs – I’ve never seen anything quite like them. Could you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Hello! We’re Adam and Johnny (and our four legged friend Benji), and we enjoy creating and upcycling vintage and retro items into beautiful stylish vintage lighting from our home in Scotland.
We wanted a unique lamp for our home… something that nobody else would have. We got to work on some ideas and created our very first lamp made from an old rotary telephone.Adam and Johnny, Godwin Vintage
When did you start Godwin Vintage and what made you decide to start selling your work?
Back in 2019 we wanted a unique lamp for our home… something that nobody else would have. Sitting at our kitchen table we got to work on some ideas, and from this we created our very first lamp made from an old rotary telephone. People loved it and asked if we would consider selling them, so we managed to find a second retro phone and made another.
Then followed an upcycled vintage camera lamp, and before we knew it we were hooked on this newly discovered creative outlet – finding more and more vintage items and upcycling them into unique lighting. We figured if we could sell one or two, the little profit we would make could fund buying more vintage items (along with all of the light fittings and parts). Shortly after Godwin Vintage was born.
Tell us about that very first piece…
We had an old telephone that we wanted to have on display within a shelving unit, but the area looked too dark and we decided we needed a lamp to illuminate the area slightly. The problem was there was only enough space for either the telephone or a lamp. So we wondered if we could combine the two and have the best of both worlds.
Could you describe the upcycling process?
It all starts with sourcing a vintage item. Often we have no idea what we’re looking for until we see it. We’re waiting for something to catch our eye – something vintage and quite quirky that we don’t usually see in every day life. Once when we find something we’ll either have a vague idea of what we can do with it – or we’ll have absolutely no idea and a little brainstorming is required.
Most of the time the vintage items are in a bit of a state, so once home we’ll set to work at stripping and cleaning decades of dirt and grime. We’ll brainstorm ideas and sketch down lots of concepts before we settle on one that we both agree on and that will work and be practical as a lamp (some of Johnny’s ideas can be a little ambitious, ha ha!).
Next up is the painting and/or polishing process. If we’re recoating an item this will involve several coats of primer, followed by several coats of paint (desperate to avoid those drips), then several coats of clear coat to protect the paintwork and give it that glossy shine. It’s similar to the process of painting a car. We’re really picky about the quality of the paintwork, and occasionally this means stripping right down to the bare metal and starting all over again if things go wrong (definitely not our favourite part of the process).
We also need to source all of the parts required (if we don’t already have them), and this can mean sourcing some parts from all over the world. Occasionally we won’t be able to find a specific part that we need (or it simply doesn’t exist), so we either have to make our own part or tweak the original design slightly. The latter is an absolute last resort because once we visualise how we want the finished product to look, we have to try our hardest to make that visualisation a reality. On occasion this has meant going way over budget on a project, but sometimes no expense is spared when it comes to creating art.
The upcycling process can often involve a lot of problem solving and figuring things out. Things rarely go as smoothly as first anticipated.
Once finished we can then take photos of the finished product and put online to sell.
Sourcing rare vintage items can be good fun – especially seeing their potential and imagining the things we could do with them.Adam and Johnny, Godwin Vintage
What’s your favourite part and why?
Our favourite part of the process has to be the hunt. Sourcing those rare vintage items can be good fun – especially seeing their potential and imagining the things we could do with them. But, to be honest, we enjoy the entire process, from finding an item, coming up with design and then doing the hard work to get it to the finished product. It gives us a real sense of achievement.
How do you track down vintage items to work with? Are there any particular things that you’re really delighted to come across?
We source items from many places including auctions, salvage/reclamation yards and even second-hand or vintage and retro shops. We’re usually just looking to stumble across something unique and quirky – especially vintage industrial. We enjoy taking something and giving it a new purpose by converting it into a light in such a way that it looks as if it was always meant to be.
What’s been your biggest achievement or proudest moment with your business?
We’re still only a tiny new business so every day can be an achievement. We get excited when we have a sale, no matter how small. But our biggest achievement has to be simply getting to where we are today, with a small but ever growing online presence and followers who really enjoy seeing our latest projects. Just the thought that people like our work so much that they’re prepared to give it a place in their own homes is amazing. It really puts a smile on our faces when we hear back from customers who’ve bought our work, saying how delighted they are with it, and often sending us photos of the product taking pride and place in their home.
If you were starting out today, what’s the one piece of advice you would give yourself?
If we were to start out again today, the advice we’d give would be to believe in ourselves and believe in our work. A lot of hard work and effort goes into every single item that we make. Never undersell yourself!
We enjoy taking something and giving it a new purpose by converting it into a light in such a way that it looks as if it was always meant to be.Adam and Johnny, Godwin Vintage
What do you like to do when you’re not making?
We both love getting out in the great outdoors – and there’s plenty of it up here in Scotland. It really is good for the soul to escape from everything and head up into the highlands with the dog. But, even then, we’ll probably still be discussing ideas for our next project, ha ha!
What’s next for Godwin Vintage?
Next for Godwin Vintage will be to set up physical premises, such as a retail space with a workshop out back. Showcasing our work online is a great way to reach people all over the world and it really does break down those geographical boundaries. But space is limited in our tiny wee workshop, and a lot of customers ask if they can come and see our work in person. It would be great for people to be able to physically browse our work while seeing items being made.
Shop Godwin Vintage on Folksy
Meet the Interviewer
The maker asking the questions this week is Denise Brett from Oruki Design. Denise is a jeweller and designer who makes beautiful things with wire, using various wire weaving and wire wrapping techniques. You can read our interview with Dee here – Oruki Design – meet the maker wrapping and weaving with wire.
Shop Oruki Design on Folksy here – https://folksy.com/shops/OrukiDesign