In 1935 the accomplished wood engraver and stained-glass artist, John Petts left London with fellow student from the Royal Academy Schools, Brenda Chamberlain, to set up home in a semi-derelict cottage in the mountains of Snowdonia, North Wales. Here they established the Caseg Press in 1937, eking out a living by hand printing small editions of greetings cards and bookplates from his original wood blocks and engraved plates. John Petts had learned the skills of wood engraving from Norman Janes at Hornsey College in London and had studied engraving techniques under W.P. Robins at the Central School of Art. After the war Petts translated some of his designs into multiple colour blocks, sometimes printing colour wood engravings from as many as five successive blocks.
Wales was to be John Petts’ home for most of the rest of his life and although he continued to make wood engravings for many years, his consuming interest became the art of stained-glass, the influence of which at times overflows into his wood engravings with their bold outlines and rich textures. A highly regarded and influential artist, John Petts became Assistant Director of Visual Arts for Wales, he was on the Arts Council of Great Britain from 1958 to 1961 and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1966. John Petts was a close friend of the engraver and private press illustrator, David Jones. In 1953 John Petts was elected to the Society of Wood Engravers and he became an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers & Engravers in 1957. Work by John Petts is held in all of the major Welsh institutions, and in many institutions worldwide.