I’m often asked where I get my witchcraft tools. With everything moving online over the last year, they appear more and more often in blog posts and teaching videos. The truth is these tools have been with me an exceptionally long time, and whilst you can still commission similar, the key word there is ‘commission’.
Instead of simply shrugging and saying “these are special, you’ll have to make an effort to get your hands on similar” I thought I’d introduce you to the man who makes many of them.
This is Phil Bartlett.
He’s otherwise known as Phil Stag, a nickname older even than my tools.
I asked him how he started making tools for witches
“Being in a coven challenged my to make items I never would have considered”, he explains, “That’s when I was given my nickname and it totally stuck. I enjoy making things and I could see things my friends would need that didn’t exist. They were presents. And then everyone would say to them, ‘where did you get that?’ so people started coming to me.”
This led to regular tables at many of the pagan events of the late 90s and early 00s. Whilst paganism and witchcraft was a booming trend, so was Phil’s craft.
“My coven leaders organised the first table for me. I thought everyone else in the group were displaying and selling stuff too. But no, I turned up and it was just for me!”
This of course doesn’t explain how he learnt to create these amazing items.
“Often I see someone do something and think, oh I reckon I can do that too. I’m just arrogant. Sometimes I have to try a few times but mostly I believe it’s possible, so I have a go and it is.”
The intense skill and craftsmanship which goes into Phil’s work means he’s also incredibly popular amongst LARPers and reenactors. Every single item he creates is a one off because even if he’s creating something he’s made before he always puts a slightly different spin on it. Each item is special, individual. It’s almost as though he finds the link between the item’s future use and the natural energy of the material.
I asked Phil how he made that all important step from being a full-time employee to earning his income via crafting.
“I had just been made redundant and thought stuff it, I don’t want to go and work for anyone else again. At the time I was already a small-time crafter at this point, and I suppose it was easy to say I really don’t want to do that, I want to do what I love full time.”
One of the important steps between being able to earn part of his income from crafting and all of it was re-enactment fairs.
“You have a group of people who are very passionate, which makes selling things much easier. They absolutely value what you make.”
The great thing about the historical events was many pagans were still within the customer base he found there. At every event Phil will have some pagan inspired items. And like all his items, they always find their home.
Some of the leatherwork he does looks like it would also have a natural place within the kink community.
“Oh yes,” he agrees, “I’ve had a lot of commissions of fetish items. I don’t make them in bulk because I don’t really know where to sell them. But I’ve made a lot of masks, collars, scourges, and restraints for people over the years.”
In general, Phil tends to be kept busy with a small but incredibly loyal customer base. Those who know Phil have bought from him and commissioned items for years.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone to Phil with a half-formed idea in my head. It’s been almost as though he can reach right into my imagination and pull out what I was looking for. Many years ago I wanted a selenite wand which curled like a unicorn horn. I have no idea how he managed it, but he created the exact image I had in my head.
I won’t add a photo for this blog because it wasn’t the easiest to make and I’m not sure Phil will thank me for creating more requests for unicorn wands!
Whilst Phil is excellent at commissions he confesses, “I don’t do as many as I used to because I like making the things I want to make.”
He much prefers to sell face to face and see his items going to their new homes. But that’s been hard within the pandemic, so he’s moved over to Etsy instead.
You can find lots of one of a kind leather bags within his store right now, but if you look in a few months you might find something quite different. That’s the thing with Phil, you’re buying a piece of him rather than a standard item.
This series of articles about pagan craftspeople and artists is purely for my own enjoyment. I have not been paid by anyone to advertise their work.
I am only featuring those who I personally admire and enjoy the work of, I don’t take influencer style requests. However, I do love discovering new artists so if you want to use this post to publicise your similar creations please feel free to leave your links in the comments.