‘Craft Says Something’. This is the triumphant statement of the team behind The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester. It says that Craft has an impact, but it also invites us to question what that impact is. We caught up with the show’s directors to find out more, with just over 2 weeks to go until the 12th GNCCF…
Craft says… excuse me, listen up, I’m different. Be original, be curious, make a statement. Why not own something that nobody else does? It’s time to think beyond the ubiquitous vanilla of the high street, the curated comfort of terribly nice department stores, and be brave, trust your taste.
The Great Northern Contemporary Craft (GNCCF) returns to Upper Campfield Market from 10th – 13th October 2019. This annual award-winning show brings together over 150 specially selected designer-makers to sell their work to the public. The organisers Ann-Marie Franey and Angela Mann are passionate about supporting contemporary craft makers and challenging the safe, cosy image that Craft can have.
Ann-Marie states, “Park your preconceptions of craft at the
door; this is a very different kind of shopping experience. The range and
quality of work on sale will impress and inspire, and you’ll love what you
including retailers, galleries, interior designers, collectors and the general
public have the opportunity to buy work and talk to the designers about their
practice and influences, and to commission bespoke unique pieces.
The use of
traditional techniques certainly doesn’t have to result in safe craft! You’ll
find thoughtful, bold and playful designs created using exceptional skills
honed over many years.
The show is now in its 12th year. Expect a diverse range of talents and stories from professional makers including jewellers, ceramicists, furniture-makers, textile and glass artists, metalsmiths and printmakers. There will also be curator talks and maker demonstrations providing opportunities to learn about materials and processes.
Craft says individuality, longevity, skill, care, passion,
originality, it has an impact. Co-Organiser, Angela Mann says, “Contemporary
craft isn’t just a match for anything from a top-end retailer. It’s more
individual, more vibrant and has provenance; made for keeps, not just a
In just under a month we’ll be in Cheltenham with the team from Made By Hand Events who’ll be preparing to open the doors of the iconic Town Hall for the second time. Last year’s show was a great success, so we’re really looking forward to seeing all the selected makers, including lots of ours from madebyhandonline. We recently met up with the show director Sarah James and her team to find out more about this year’s line up…
I can’t believe it’s already almost a year since we were in Cheltenham. How does it feel looking back at the show last year?
Sarah: It was a lot of fun. The Town Hall is really beautiful and is a regularly used venue, right in the centre of Cheltenham. It look lovely from the outside and has a great layout inside. I didn’t know what would happen, but we had about a third more visitors that I had hoped and it was great to see visitors from our other events in Cardiff and Bovey Tracey travelling up to Cheltenham.
We spoke with lots of visitors at the show last year and they were so enthusiastic about the high quality and the variety of work. Tell us a bit about some of the exhibitors who’ve been selected for this year’s show.
Sarah: We certainly reached a new and appreciative audience who loved the quality of the makers exhibiting, which was great a validation of choosing Cheltenham to launch a new event.
Selecting the event is always such a great privilege. We do a call for entries about 6 months before the event, asking for 6 images of their work. We put a selection panel together and we had 100% too many applications for stands available. It’s wonderful to have such amazing choice and also that makers put so much faith in what we do. It’s also really tough making those decisions as many great makers only made it on to the waiting list.
We have an impressive range of makers at Made by Hand, Cheltenham. Some firm favourites are returning to Cheltenham and it’s also great to see new makers emerging. I have a passion for ceramics and I’m looking forward to seeing new-to-us potter Holly Bell’s tableware.
I love cooking and a beautifully made chopping board or carved spoon literally makes my heart beat faster. Takahashi McGil’s woodwork has the same effect. Just gorgeous, useful homewares, lovingly made in wood.
We first exhibited the jewellery of Claire Allain at Made by Hand, Cardiff and I wish I’d bought some thing from her then so I’m really pleased she is coming to Cheltenham so I can rectify the situation.
I can never resist treating myself to a bit of shopping at your shows! Last year I came home with a gorgeous pair of earrings by Mizuki Takahashi. Who do you all have on your shopping lists?
Nina: What am I most looking forward to seeing at Made by Hand, Cheltenham? Sorry I just can’t whittle it down to one! I love Emily Kriste Wilcox’s elegant painterly slab built ceramics and Claire Allain’s fresh and funky jewellery.
Karen Suzuki’s intricate textile and mixed media characters speak to me – they’re like slightly subversive rock and roll Staffordshire figurines. But if I have to pick just one thing to take home, I know that not for the first time I will be drooling over Takahashi McGils’s beautifully restrained and tactile hardwood homewares.
Fran: Ceramicist Eleanor Crane. Simply looking at these pieces makes me feel calm and tranquil. I’m very much looking forward to having the opportunity to feel these coastal inspired fine porcelain items that are truly timeless.
Sarah: I love Tanja Ufer’s Jewellery. Tanja made both my wedding and engagement rings. She uses beautiful stones in unusual settings and I absolutely adore her work.
Kate: I do like a lovely warm scarf so I’m looking forward to seeing the knitwear by Jules Hogan.
What else do you have in store for the Cheltenham visitors this year?
Sarah: Because last year was so busy, we’ve extended the event to 3 days. As well as lots of shopping, there are a great selection of workshops provided by Gloucestershire Guild and New Brewery Arts. There are also craft demonstrations in pottery, paper cutting, knitting, silversmithing, leather work and printmaking.
At the Contemporary Craft Festival here in Devon you really focus on encouraging young people and families to engage with craft. The Cheltenham venue is obviously smaller, but what have you got planned for young visitors?
Sarah: It’s very important for us that we have lovely activities for children to enjoy. I’m so pleased that we are working with some inspirational makers from the Unit Twelve Gallery at Made by Hand Cheltenham. Led by paper artists Jennifer Collier with Rachel Butlin and Fran Buxton, children will enjoy a range of paper construction workshops.
Rachel and Fran both joined us last year in the StartUP section, which supports emerging makers in the early stages of their career. You can meet a selection of new makers of jewellery, textiles and pottery in the Made by Hand, Cheltenham’s StartUP.
Thank you very much to Sarah and the team for chatting with us. We’re very happy to be joining the team and helping out during the show, and we also have the great privilege of presenting a maker award. See you there!
A year spread out ahead can be both exciting and refreshing and daunting and overwhelming. Lots of makers and artists are busy making exhibition plans, designing new ranges and developing their skills, whilst others are finding it hard to find that elusive post-Christmas holiday mojo! Whichever position you’re in, January is a time when we can all feel the pressure to have a clear direction, but this isn’t always conducive to a maker or artist who craves creative freedom. Running a business can get in the way of creativity. We’re also facing a year of uncertainty and change, and this is bound to make it harder to make plans. We’ve heard good things from some of our makers about The Design Trust’s ‘Dream, Plan, Do’ planner. It helps makers and artists put some structure into their lives in a supportive way, giving them a monthly focus in order to enable them to work on developing all aspects of their businesses. We caught up with The Design Trust to find out more…
The Design Trust is an online business school for small creative businesses. Set up in 1994, its key function was and still remains today, to support designers, makers and artists who want to set up in business but lack the necessary commercial skills. Creatives are taught the trade; making, techniques, design, but when it comes to selling the work and effectively running a business, training and education is most often lacking. The Design Trust, headed by Patricia van den Akker, seeks to offer business skills training for creative businesses via online learning, workshops and free resources through its website and social media channels.
Dream Plan Do is a planner written by Patricia in 2016. The book is based on Patricia’s 25+ years’ experience as a business adviser, trainer and coach to thousands of creatives, especially designers and makers. Dream Plan Do was the result of Patricia seeing so many creative businesses struggle. Stepping out of a creative education or trying to turn a creative hobby into a business is extremely difficult with no business training. Making something beautiful is one thing, selling it to someone is a whole other story. Patricia saw that many makers lacked business knowledge as well as focus. They weren’t setting clear goals, nor were they working on their finances or marketing. They simply weren’t making enough money for all the hard work they were putting in to creating.
Patricia says, “What started as an idea in my head has become this wonderful ‘adventure’ book for so many creatives on this journey. I’m so proud of what creatives across the world have achieved because of Dream Plan Do! They’ve made fundamental changes in their lives and businesses, launched new collections and better websites. They have dared to approach new clients and dreamed bigger dreams. They have truly grown. On their own terms.”
The planner contains practical planning tools and check lists with expert business advice to get creatives more focused and organised. New for this year, Dream Plan Do has organised accountability groups in Bristol, Worthing, Cheshire and Cornwall with more in the pipeline where owners of the planner can meet up every month to talk about struggles, celebrate successes and discuss next steps. A busy Facebook community offers a place to share stories, concerns and share advice on all matters relating to running a small business.
The online Dream Plan Do VIP CLUB offers members bi monthly online training from Patricia in topics connected with the chapters of the book. It gives members the opportunity to learn not only from Patricia but also from other creatives, to ask questions, to chat, to be accountable, and to feel part of something.
The Design Trust has received some very positive feedback…
“DPD VIP Club is the best value for money I have ever spent on my business. With just the planner, on my own, I know I would have fallen by the wayside (I know what I’m like!) instead I have had bi monthly support from Patricia who has been very generous with her time and information, in the form of webinars, one to ones and downloads. Coupled with an accountability partner (now friend,) I am still here good and strong.”
“For me it has been the Wheels that have really brought things home for me. That I don’t want to settle anymore and that I CAN change things for myself, that I CAN make a difference, and that if the first thing doesn’t work, to try another and another and not to give up.”
If this sounds like the tool you need for your creative business, you can find out more about Dream Plan Do and buy the planner, wall chart and join the VIP Club at: https://www.dream-plan-do.com/shop or search #dreamplando2019 on Instagram where the community has been busy sharing their images and stories.
And, as a little something for madebyhandonline followers, Patricia is offering 10% off the Dream Plan Do planner journal, the wall planner or the Dream Plan Do VIP club which includes two monthly online training sessions + a lot more accountability! All you need to do is go to www.dream-plan-do.com/shop/ and place your order. Then use this promo code: MBHELLO
Please note the offer code needs to be all in capitals. That’s it! The offer code is valid until 27 January 2019.
Many thanks to The Design Trust and we wish everyone a healthy and happy 2019, whatever it may bring…
Two of our makers, jeweller Libby Ward and ceramicist Alex Allday, are based at the historic Middleport Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent. They set up their studio called FourMakers back in December 2014… four graduates all based in the midlands, looking to create a platform for contemporary crafts in the area and a studio space where they could develop their practices. We caught up with Libby and Alex to find out more about their inspirational setting…
Image credit UKHBPT.
Libby: Middleport is one of the few remaining working Victorian pottery banks left in Stoke-On-Trent. With help from United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust back in 2010, the site was renovated and then opened to the public in 2014. The FourMakers Studio is an open workshop and gallery where visitors can come and watch us make, shop from us and chat to us about our work.
Pulling up at Middleport every morning is a dream! Walking to our studio along the Victorian cobbles is an absolute pleasure! Our studio is the only one that is actually attached to the bottle kiln wall. We have watched the site develop over the years and this has attracted other local businesses and so we now have a community of craftspeople here at Middleport studios.
Libby creates contemporary jewellery and works alongside Alex, who produces decorative ceramic ware. They predominately run the FourMakers workshop and gallery. Both work with completely different materials, but they find that this helps them to bounce ideas off one other and it allows each other to consider design from a different point of view. The pair saw a massive increase in visitors over the summer when Middleport played host to the weeping windows installation. This put them and Middleport in front of a local and national audience.
Alex: Middleport is the perfect location of my practice. My inspiration comes from historical English architecture and its intricate details, such as the Victorian window details and floor tile patterns around the site.
Libby also takes her inspiration from Middleport. She is drawn to manmade objects and buildings that have been weathered over the years. The rusty metals and textures around the pottery inform her need to question preciousness through her practice.
This December, as part of Middleport’s Victorian Christmas, the two will be running their popular Christmas workshops. Not only can you enjoy a visit to the historic potteries, but make something beautiful and festive for your home under Libby and Alex’s expert tuition.
Image credit UKHBPT.
The first will be a joint workshop, working in both ceramic and wire, on the 9th of December. Join Libby and Alex for a festive afternoon creating your own handmade decorations for your house and tree.
Then on the 12th of December, Alex will be running a porcelain tea light workshop using traditional slab building techniques to create stunning pieces for yourself or a personal gift for friends and family. Finally, on the 19th of December, join Libby to design and create your own Christmas wreath. Natural and artificial materials will be provided and you can also take your own materials to make it even more personal.
Contemporary jeweller Carol Hunt works entirely by hand to create strong, often sculptural, jewellery from silver, gold and precious stones. In our latest maker interview, we caught up with Carol to find out more about her background and inspirations…
Tell us a bit about how you’ve got to where you are today? I always loved making things but started off in the corporate world as a Business Consultant working all over the world for large companies. I started making again through taking short courses in jewellery during my holidays, then decided to work freelance so I could study for my City & Guilds in jewellery. At about the same time I started going to extra jewellery making classes taught by Martin Hopton. He is a mind-blowing designer/maker and fantastic tutor and I learned so much from him about design, detail, technique and quality. I then studied for my Masters in jewellery at the John Cass School of Art and Design in London, under Simone Ten-Hompel who really challenged me and encouraged me to really think about what I was trying to express in my making. I set up Carol Hunt Jewellery after graduating and have been making and selling my jewellery ever since.
In 2017 I was awarded the Goldsmiths Craft and Design Council Bronze Award for 3D Design Precious Jewellery (Silver).
If you were to describe your own work in just 5 words which words would you choose? Contemporary, Delicate, Complex, Linear, Strong.
From who or what do you draw your inspirations? I’ve thought a lot about this as it isn’t easy to put into words! For me jewellery is a form of self-expression and I am essentially exploring the complexities of life. There are particular memories and experiences that I often come back to, but I’m not trying to ‘make’ those, it’s more about saying something on the contradictions and complexities of life that we all experience. That’s why I often play with contrasts such as light/dark, strength/delicacy etc. in my work. I hope that this means that the wearer can decide what the piece means to them.
Can you tell us a bit about your studio/workspace? After I finished my Masters we moved out of London back to the West Country where my family live. Our town hall is managed by an arts trust and part of what they do is rent out studio spaces to local artists so that’s where I have my workshop. It’s not a big space but long and thin which works well for jewellery having lots of bench space down the sides! Its also nice being part of a group of likeminded creative people!
If you can, describe a typical day for you? I’m not sure there is a typical day really, apart from always starting it with a good coffee! At the moment I’m preparing for my next show, so I’m mostly making in my workshop. There is also a surprising amount of admin to do as a maker as you are your own marketing department, stock control etc, so I’m often in the middle of something else like cooking dinner when I remember I need to order materials or more business cards or something!
What are you working on at the moment? I’m working on two new collections – one is exploring the shapes, colour and contrasts of porcelain and silver. I’ve had this in my mind for a while but hadn’t been sure how to realise it. I spent some time with a local potter just playing about with porcelain so I could understand the material better which led me to thinking about how one particular form could be represented in wax and cast into silver. I’m hoping that when I bring the two together they will be more than the sum of their parts – its not quite there yet but I’m hoping it will be soon! The other collection is exploring fine mesh textures contrasted with silver frames.
What do you have planned in the build up to Christmas and where can people see your work? My next big show is Handmade in Britain at Chelsea Town Hall in London (8th-11th November) so I’m currently preparing for that. I’m also planning a couple of smaller local fairs and trying to get more of my work onto my online shop!
Whether you like to knit, stitch or get messy with clay, losing yourself in craft has become the go-to activity to combat the stresses and strains of modern life (see the recent article about this in The Telegraph). The ultimate opportunity to immerse yourself in all forms of craft is at this weekend’s contemporary craft fair, Made by Hand Cardiff. Returning for its 5th anniversary at City Hall, the annual celebration of craft returns to Cardiff hosting 145 of the finest professional makers from Wales and the UK. Are you ready to be inspired? We talked to the show’s director Sarah James and here are her 10 reasons why you should visit:
1. Meet the Makers! Made by Hand is the biggest and best craft fair in Wales with 145 of the UK and Wales’s finest makers. Makers are selected for quality and you can buy your unique Christmas presents from our collection of potters, jewellers, textile artists, glass makers, leather workers and woodworkers. Including Jennifer Collier from Stafford, Anvil Forge from Pontypool, Helen Brice (jeweller) from Tiverton, Katie Victoria (textiles) from Swansea, Virginia Graham (ceramics) from Corsham, Christina Hirst (jeweller) from Edinburgh, Claire Cawte (textiles) from Penarth, Cleo Mussi (mosaic) from Stroud, Fauxidermy (textiles) from Abergavenny, Anya Keely from Hereford, Babs Belshaw (pottery) from Derry, Northern Ireland, Michael Goode (printmaker) from Barry and Glosters (pottery) from Porthmadog. You can find out about all our exhibitors on the website.
2. Made by Hand wouldn’t be complete without our skilful demonstrators sharing their knowledge of their craft. These include pottery by Eluned Glyn from Cardiff, papercutting by By Charlie’s Hand from Pontypool, willow basket weaving by Hatton Willow from Caerphilly, plus needle felt making, eco fabric dyeing and willow sculpture.
3. Support small businesses from Wales & the UK. You can feel confident and rather proud that you are buying from a small, British business. Buying small has the added benefit of bringing money back into the local economy and the knowledge that you are supporting a hard-working, independent business. These include, Ruth Packham (textiles) from Borth, James Donald (textiles) from Edinburgh, Jaejun Lee (ceramics) from Cardiff, Sian O’Doherty (textiles) from Tenby, Selwyn House from Derbyshire, Reptile Ceramics from Whitland, Sara Lois (jeweller) from Pwllheli and Louise Hall (pottery) from Cardiff.
4. Join the Pottery Throwdown! Meet the potters from the hit BBC TV show-Tom, Clover, Richard and Jim and challenge them to a pottery throwdown, presented in association with Potclays. Billy Adams and Margo Schmidt from Cardiff will be keeping order and visitors can sign up to a potting challenge on the day.
5. Meet pottery legend Walter Keeler. All good Festivals have a living legend slot and Made by Hand is no exception. Walter Keeler from Penallt, South Wales will be showing visitors how his work is made and talking about his incredible career in ceramics.
6. Lose yourself in 2 hours of creative bliss. There are just a few workshop places left over the weekend. Hop onto www.madebyhand-wales.co.uk and book the final places now.
7. Kids Go Free! We want to do our bit to inspire the next generation of makers. Accompanied children Under 18 are free and they can enjoy free drop-in workshops provided by Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre.
8. Learn something new at Michelle Griffith’s Masterclass. Textile artist, Michelle from Llantrisant will be showing visitors how the intricate Japanese of shibori textiles are made. It’s a free event, included in your ticket.
9. Meet the StartUp makers. Made by Hand features a collection of emerging makers in their first 2 years of business. You are guaranteed to find something new and unusual. Have a look at our selected new makers taking part here.
10. Be Inspired! You can also take part in 2 hour workshops provided by Make it in Wales & Learning Cardiff. Make willow Christmas decorations, have a go at paper cutting or needlefelting. Grab the last few places via www.madebyhand-wales.co.uk.
The heady mix of makers, demonstrations, workshops, masterclasses, live music and café, set in the stunning surroundings of City Hall, is surely one the finest opportunities to start your Christmas shopping!
Many thanks to Sarah. We can’t wait to head to Cardiff! Lots of our madebyhandonline makers will be exhibiting. We’ll be helping out during the show, catching up with all our makers, enjoying a bit of shopping and we also have the great privilege of presenting an award to a new maker. See you there!
Made by Hand, 2018 will take place in Cardiff City Hall from Friday November 2nd – Sunday November 4th (10am-5pm Fri & Sat, Sunday 10am-4pm). Tickets (per day) are Adults £7 (£6 concessions) Weekend/3 days Ticket £13 (£11 conc). Accompanied children under 18 go free. For full details: www.madebyhand-wales.co.uk
We’re now well and truly into show season and last night we enjoyed a fantastic opening evening at MADE LONDON in Marylebone. Showcasing some of the very best and most original makers of high quality contemporary craft and design, MADE LONDON is a must for makers and craft-buyers alike. As always, this is a beautifully curated show and the quality of work is exceptionally high.
The show is set in One Marylebone, which is a beautiful converted Sir John Soane church in central London, directly opposite the Great Portland Street tube and right by Regents Park. There are two floors, linked by sweeping staircases, both offering a dramatic, light and luxurious backdrop to the makers’ displays. Yesterday evening the aisles were bustling with visitors, from friends and family, to press and curators, all celebrating making and, importantly, a good amount of shopping was being enjoyed!
At madebyhandonline we’re really happy to be sponsors of the show again. It’s a show we never miss! We presented a maker award last night (more about this below) and some of our makers are exhibiting, so we’ve had lots of good catch-up chats with them and really enjoyed seeing their amazing displays.
Lisa Slinn Ceramics.
Virginia Graham Ceramics.
We also caught up with Jon Tutton, one of the show organisers who can always be found greeting visitors and inspiring people to support his makers! We asked him a few questions about what it’s like organising the show….
We’re always so impressed by the style of your shows… they’re consistently inspirational and of a very high quality, yet have a wonderfully relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Tell us a bit about the Tutton & Young team working behind the scenes? Our ethos comes from the fact we’re makers and have experienced good and bad exhibitions in the past. I’m the organiser, Sarah Young heads design and artistic direction, Sam leads marketing, Melina is taking our social media to new levels and Maria is my assistant.
We know you’re often oversubscribed. How do you select makers for your shows? Our selection is based on whether we feel the makers have a passion for what they do and not necessarily what might be popular. The joy of the work shines through.
When I visit shows, I’m particularly drawn to ceramics and jewellery and I like buying textiles as gifts. Are you drawn to a particular type of work yourself? I’m drawn to sculptural work, be that jewellery, wooden objects or any other discipline. That’s what we look for when we select jewellery – as a sculptural object, something interesting with impact.
Tell us a bit about what visitors can expect to find here over the weekend. I think this is our strongest year. There’s a really good balance of work and some great new work. I’m really pleased that we have makers like Hope Springs Chairs here with their fresh look at the Windsor chair – they’re a great example of people we like to support. We have people doing and making what they like and enjoying themselves, and that’s what we like to show and encourage in our fairs.
And a very happy moment… we gave our Best in Show award to the brilliant Ken Eardley! We’ve been huge fans of his work for such a long time and are so pleased that he’ll be part of madebyhandonline very soon…
Drawing inspirations from nature and antiquity, jeweller Lucy Spink works from her small workshop in Cornwall. We saw Lucy’s work at The Contemporary Craft Festival in Devon last summer and we were really drawn to the contemporary forms and textures she creates, using very traditional techniques and old hand tools. These organic textures make light and its playful, manipulative nature with materials intrinsic to her work, and the marks from her tools are also an important part of the story behind each piece. We caught up with Lucy to find out more…
Tell us a bit about how you first started making jewellery and at what point you began to sell and exhibit your work? I began making jewellery under the guidance of Victoria Walker at Truro College. She was an incredible teacher and very inspiring, she was in the early stages of her career then and it is so good to see how well she is doing now with her beautiful jewellery. When I started making jewellery, I was also running my own retail business so it was a natural step to start selling my work in the shop. I spent two years living and working in Trinidad and had the use of Bruce Moutett’s jewellery studio, he taught me a lot of new skills and encouraged me to develop. My husband and I returned to Cornwall and I started to set up the current Lucy Spink Jewellery brand, which I am really proud of and working hard to grow.
What’s your studio space like? I have had a few studio spaces (including the utility room) since coming back to the UK. I currently have a very smart shed in the garden so my commute to work is fantastic. I have taken on a student who is developing her own style and it is great to have company as working on your own can get lonely.
If you can, describe a typical day for you? A typical day starts with a cup of tea and a long dog walk. It clears my head and I can think about new designs. I love being outdoors and Cornwall is full of inspiration for me. I usually spend some time doing admin and then the rest of the day is available to actually make work. No two days are the same, which I think is the best thing about what I do.
From who or what do you draw your inspirations? I love ancient landscapes. I find it fascinating how you can read a landscape and see how it has been shaped by people for generations. I mostly find the unspoilt places are my favourite. Ancient settlements on Dartmoor, lichen covered rocks and stunted oak trees, pebble strewn beaches and dried up seaweed.
Other jewellers are very inspiring too. I love the work of Bronwen Gwillim, the simple shapes and beautiful textures of the recycled material; Helen Noakes’ jewellery is gorgeous and makes me smile, I have been following her for years, and I take great delight in the incredible depth of work by the Precious Collective on Instagram. I am also in love with writing, from journals like Elementum to the books by Robert Macfarlane, words can be so powerful and incredibly inspiring to me.
There are lots of amazing independent jewellers in the UK and this makes for a strong team and a great supportive community, but it also means that makers have to keep on their toes to stay original. How do you ensure that you and your designs maintain your own identifiable style, but also keep refreshing? It can be really hard to define a style and maintain a growing collection. I use reticulation and hammering in all my work so the surface textures are always the same running through new designs. My Grandad’s old workshop tools are also a big part of my work and the marks they leave during the making process become part of the design, which I think helps the customer to see the handmade nature of each piece.
We think we know what your answer to this will be…Do you find that you’re always thinking about jewellery making whatever you’re doing? Yes, always. Whether it’s admin that must be done, designs that I am mulling over or searching for new stones to incorporate into my work. I always come home from a walk with bits of lichen and twigs, beautiful pebbles and shells. They get stashed away in corners of the garden and in piles in my studio.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment? I am currently working on incorporating large stones into my work, which is a lot of fun for me. I have found some great suppliers across the world who are sourcing and cutting their own stones, so I can learn the story behind each one from them. One day I might get to go and visit some of them!!
What do you have planned in the build up to Christmas and where can people see your work? In the build up to Christmas I will be building on the new collection, Mini Monolith, which is based around the smaller open rectangular links and more reticulation to create a different feel. Alongside this are the new one off pieces that you are starting to see in the rings I have been posting. I am adding necklaces to these and I am finding that it is exciting to work on and design one single piece that will never be replicated. I hope to do more of these over the next 6 months and look forward to getting feedback from my customers. In addition to this, I am doing a small group show called Creek Arts and Crafts (watch out on my social media for details) and I have been accepted into Cheltenham Made by Hand in 2019. There are lists of my stockists on my website including a new exhibition at the Victoria Sewart Gallery in Plymouth which I am really excited to be included in this year.
Many thanks to Lucy for answering our questions. We were very lucky to be part of the judging panel at The Contemporary Craft Festival in June and the award for Best New Business was presented to Lucy, so you can find her beautiful collection of jewellery right here on madebyhandonline. Thanks for reading!
It’s nearly time… The award-winning Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (GNCCF) will very soon be opening its doors for a celebration of cutting-edge craft and design at the Upper Campfield Market, a Grade II listed Victorian building in the heart of Manchester.
This event will begin with a special preview evening on Thursday 11th October and will then be open to the public from Friday 12th – Sunday 14th October.
We love the curation of this show. The organisers are always careful to keep the show refreshed to ensure that regular visitors will discover new makers each year. Visitors can expect to see established makers of contemporary ceramics, jewellery, furniture, textiles, sculpture, print and more, alongside those who are just launching their creative businesses.
Thirteen new designers, who are amongst the UK’s best up-and-coming creative graduates, have been selected to exhibit in a special section called the Great Northern Graduates. This group of talented graduates are from nine different universities around the UK and they were selected by curator Elle Simms from their degree shows and from this year’s New Designers event in London. This is a great opportunity for this collective of new talent to exhibit alongside over 150 of the UK’s leading designer-makers.
We’re excited to see the range of new talent taking part this year, especially as we’re also very keen to support new businesses and will again be sponsoring the Best New Business award. This award is given to a maker who has only been in business for up to 5 years.
The Great Northern is supported by Arts Council England through Grant for the Arts. Angela Mann and Ann-Marie Franey founded the GNCCF in 2008 with the aim of championing and promoting contemporary craft and designer-makers in the North. The show is now firmly fixed on the craft calendar and is now the largest contemporary craft fair in the North.
Ann-Marie said: “We are looking forward to being back in Manchester after launching new events in Newcastle and Sheffield earlier this year. Visitors can expect a stimulating day out in an unusual setting, with interesting and beautiful work from new and established makers. Interest in contemporary craft grows year-on-year and we’re excited to be part of this, flying the flag for Northern craft.”
As well as being spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping, visitors can also enjoy attending an artist presentationand there will also be demonstrations throughout the weekend.
This was the beautiful yurt from Yurts for Life that framed the early stages of our Risk Makers project so perfectly at the Contemporary Craft Festival last weekend.
It was such an eye-catching structure, all handmade in Devon. The steam bent woodwork created a curved roof shape with fabulous light and headroom, and we were able to open up the sides of the cotton canvas to expose the beautiful wooden trellis and reveal glimpses of our exhibition from the outside. Sincere thanks to Yurts For Life for creating such a beautiful exhibition space.
Last Autumn we held a day of exploration and brought the skills and experiences of a high caliber group of makers together from our community on madebyhandonline to discuss ideas for a new model of workshop and to analyse the current challenges for professional makers. The day revealed a desire to play, to share skills, ask honest questions of one another and to bring high quality work and a spirit of collaborative play to as many people as possible.
Many contemporary craft makers work in isolation. Making is incredibly valuable for enhancing mental health and wellbeing, but making in isolation can also create problems, and these are often kept hidden. We believe that makers need both support and challenge and that with these two things audience engagement will increase and be enriched.
To begin, we’ve encouraged our makers to take some risks by collaborating with one another. Other than removing a commercial focus, we didn’t put a fixed structure in place. The results were brilliantly varied and based on different interpretations of what it means to collaborate. Some groups contributed to create one piece, others responded to another’s work, some exchanged materials and allowed one person to take the lead to design an end product, whilst others focused on playing with materials without any specific result in mind. Our exhibition yurt at the Festival was the perfect place for us to share these first collaborations and to talk to visitors about issues of mental health and wellbeing, the value of handmade items and makers’ livelihoods. This was the beginning, and these are our first Risk Makers!
A scorched birch bowl by Adam Cornish stitched by Jennifer Collier with contrasting turquoise thread:
Helen Noakes created a stunningly beautiful collection of brooches in response to materials sent to her by ceramicist Virginia Graham, textile artist Dionne Swift and paper artist Jennifer Collier:
Textile artist Dionne Swift and ceramicist Tone von Krogh presented the first initial experiments with pressing stitch into clay:
Marna Lunt stepped away from her 2 dimensional stitch to work in 3d with Suzanne Breakwell’s wire armatures:
Claire Read of Little Burrow Designs presented the beginning of a very personal piece about her father’s passing called ‘The Long Goodbye’. This piece will become a collaboration with Marna Lunt:
Helen Noakes’ cast silver figures have been relocated! Woodturner Adam Cornish has many ideas for these:
‘Guiding Lights’ Lampshades by Marna Lunt and Andy Poplar of [vinegar & brown paper]:
This tea set was devised by Jennifer Collier, Virginia Graham and Marna Lunt:
Transfers were made of Jennifer’s stitched papers and used to embellish Virginia’s ceramics, and Marna has brought the piece back to stitch again with her embroidered tray cloth. This was hugely popular, and is a great example of how a commercial end product can be made without intention, just freedom to play!
We met so many engaged visitors over the 3 day Festival. The collaborations were of course a visual draw, but they enabled us to have some really good conversations with visitors about vulnerability, levels of confidence and how they effect creativity; as well as pricing, the time it takes to make and the challenges of communicating value with potential buyers. We really didn’t know what to expect from our first public appearance, especially as we don’t exactly know where are project will lead us, but the feedback was quite overwhelming.
It was fantastic to welcome both the Chair and the Director of the Crafts Council into our yurt, and we also spoke with academics, medical professionals and countless craft enthusiasts who are excited to see what might come from our project.
We also had some short demonstrations and activities led by Adam Cornish, Tone von Krogh, Dionne Swift, Marna Lunt and Jennifer Collier. It was so good to see people chatting, relaxed, entertained and inspired. Thank you to our brilliant makers for leading these.
As we explained to our visitors, this is the beginning and we have lots of ideas to explore. We are very privileged and grateful to be working on this with Dr Nicola Thomas from Exeter University and film makers Richard and Arron of R&A Collaborations. We’d like to bring more of our makers into our group and we’d like to involve you along the way. Exciting pairings and combinations of materials and skills could lead to new products, new ideas and new ways to involve more people in making. Thank you so much to everyone who visited us, to the organisers of the Festival for hosting us, and huge thanks to our amazing Risk Makers for their bravery, passion and extraordinary talents!