Stephen’s career in instrument making began with the building of his first instrument at an evening class in 2008. From there he was inspired to retrain and went on to become one of the first full time students under master of craft Sam Irwin at his Lagan Lutherie School. As part of the tuition students made every part of the instrument from linings to headstock. Under Irwin’s guidance Stephen flourished and developed a love of the craft completing ten instruments within twelve months. In the following years he worked with Catherwood Guitars learning how to build mandolins, octave mandolas and bouzoukis; and then with Lowden guitars becoming a supervisor in the assembly department. In 2020 Stephen launched Hawthorne Lutherie and has also become a tutor himself, at the same Lagan Lutherie School where he found his own career.
Hawthorne Lutherie stands for the highest quality of raw materials put together with care, precision and artistry. Stephen works closely with local timber merchants to reduce impact and bring a rare character to each instrument. For his own range Stephen has experimented with timbers that are not usually used for instrument making to develop sounds and designs that set the instruments apart. Working with sustainable Irish woods can be complex but the hard work results in instruments that have a completely unique look and sound.