Our hugely popular series tells fascinating tales about extraordinary people keeping traditional skills alive across Britain, illustrated by the wonderful portrait photographs taken for Country Life. Our picture editor Lucy Ford makes her selection of her favourites of 2018.

The stained-glass maker: ‘It’s powerful, volatile… too overwhelming for domestic settings’

The

©Richard Cannon/Country Life

Thomas Denny makes windows that are not only pictures hidden in colourful patterns, but complex interweavings of naturalistic and biblical imagery, radiant and spiritual.

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The neon sign maker: ‘Piccadilly Circus was our answer to Vegas – now it’s all pixellated screens’

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©Richard Cannon/Country Life

‘Every time I come here, it blows my mind,’ admits Marcus Bracey as he approaches Gods Own Junkyard, his neon emporium in Walthamstow.

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The putcher fisherman: Flying the flag for a dying way of life

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©Richard Cannon/Country Life

Chris Cadogan, the only remaining fisherman to practice this medieval method on the Severn.

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The sculptor: ‘Every day, I go into the studio in the morning and set about things. I don’t know any other way to live’

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©Mark Williamson/Country Life

James Butler (MBE, RA, RWA, FRBS) is in his late 80s and still sculpting every day.

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The glass-eye maker: ‘I make sure that the eye fits, but psychology comes into my work as well’

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©Richard Cannon/Country Life

Jost Haas, the only remaining maker of glass eyes working in Britain today.

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The ship’s figurehead carver: ‘It used to be a profession and every port would have had one, but now it’s a dying art’

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©Richard Cannon/Country Life

In the expert hands of Andy Peters, pine is sculpted into a glorious array of decorative items, but the show-stopping figureheads that stand up to 15ft high are his bread-and-butter.

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The glassblower: ‘When something goes wrong you can’t fix it – you just sling in into the bosh bucket and start again’

The

©Richard Cannon/Country Life

Ian Shearman’s team of glassblowers are still making glass using a technique that’s 2,000 years old.

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The swill basket maker: ‘Even after 30 years, it’s still a challenge; every tree is different and each batch of baskets has its own journey’

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©Richard Cannon/Country Life

You could travel many miles to find someone who relishes his working day as much as Owen Jones enjoys creating oak swill baskets.

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The poppy maker: ‘I was very weak, very emotional and in a bad place when I started, but I’m back to my old self again now’

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©Richard Cannon/Country Life

Wish Lloyd battled a traumatic childhood, the army, an athletics injury and homelessness to find his place at the Poppy Factory, making the poppies we wear every November.

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The luthier: ‘You don’t know if you’ve been successful until you put the strings on. That’s the moment when it comes alive.’

The

©Richard Cannon/Country Life

Tom Sands talks about his life making guitars – and pays tribute to his mentor, a ‘cross between Gandalf, Yoda and Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid.’

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