Author Archives: Katie Honnor

  1. Call for Makers: An interview with Amanda Critchlow of Crux Craft Fair.

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    Do you have a local craft event near you? We love visiting the big shows, but there are some fantastic small craft fairs around the country where you’ll find exceptional makers. We are very lucky to have a few here in Devon and one of our favourites is Crux Craft Fair, which takes place before Christmas in a little village called Rattery. There aren’t many craft fairs that can say they’re still going strong after 27 years, but Crux continues to go from strength to strength. Built on a wholly justified reputation for high quality crafts by local designer-makers in an intimate and welcoming setting, Crux Craft Fair is an absolute gem and a popular choice for makers as well as visitors here in South Devon.

    Former Crux exhibitor Niamh Geraghty Morris.

    Applications are now open for makers to exhibit (in fact they close at the end of this week on Friday 21st April), so we caught up with Crux’s longest-serving organiser, who has also exhibited every year from the very beginning, Amanda Critchlow. Here we discuss this year’s event and find out how southwest designer-makers can apply….

    Katie: I know your event very well as it’s one I attend every year with my family. Can you tell us a little bit about Crux Craft Fair?

    Crux Craft Fair 2019. Photo credit: Viola De Photography.

    Amanda: Our focus at Crux is to share high-quality crafts made by local designer-makers in a cosy, intimate and friendly atmosphere. 

    Crux has always been a craft fair organised and run by practising craftspeople. It was set up as a space to support local designer-makers who didn’t have a commercial outlet or access to the public market. We wanted to create a space that simultaneously celebrated the best southwest crafts while sharing them with visitors who appreciated and enjoyed the craft behind the product. We’ve come a long way from the cruck frame building that gave us our name but the original ethos and space we set out to create hasn’t changed. 

    The first Crux Craft Fairs were held in renovated barns that created this wonderful homely and intimate atmosphere. We have now been at the brilliant Rattery Village Hall for eighteen years, but we still create that cosy, warm and welcoming environment for visitors.

    Flyers from previous Crux Craft Fairs in 2001, 2010 and 2017.

    Katie: You’ve had the opportunity to grow Crux Craft Fair but decided to keep it to 30 stalls. Why was that?

    Amanda: A number of reasons really, but it was mainly about holding true to our original aims. 

    Crux is first and foremost about supporting the southwest maker community. Keeping stall fees low is a key priority – meaning that new and emerging craftspeople feel able to apply. Moving to a larger venue and increasing to more than 30 stalls would mean charging exhibitors more and losing that intimate atmosphere. 

    In our current venue, we can also keep things more enticing for visitors. Parking and entry are free so you’ll often find people returning multiple times across the three days to browse and buy.

    Former Crux exhibitor Peter Lanyon.

    And from a more personal perspective, Crux is organised and run completely voluntarily as a passion project. The five current organisers get a free stall at the fair in return for their efforts throughout the year. No profit is made – we more-or-less break even every year. It’s a labour of love for the designer-maker community. Growing Crux into a bigger entity would mean it becoming a bigger responsibility and the fun would quickly drain away.

    Katie: Yes, completely understand. We feel the same about holding onto original aims here at madebyhandonline. I love that you are keeping the focus on fun and enjoyment as well, what do you think is the best thing about running Crux?

    Amanda: Bringing together the local designer-maker community is always an inspiring and rewarding experience. 

    Artisan craftspeople are often working alone in their workshops so relish the opportunity to meet and connect with other makers. We’ve heard about many friendships and collaborations over the years that have only happened because two makers met at Crux. Stallholders often talk of missing their stall neighbours after Crux is over. This is why we work very hard to create a welcoming space, not just for visitors but for makers too.

    Former Crux exhibitor Penny Little.

    I would say another aspect that helps is the lower exhibitor cost. Stallholders are under less financial pressure to make a large return. This helps everyone feel more relaxed and creates a supportive environment that I love being a part of.

    Katie: Can you tell us a bit about your audiences? I’m thinking about makers who might be considering applying. Who visits Crux?

    Amanda: We get a huge range of people from the craft curious to the niche enthusiast. However, I’d say the core of our visitors are what I would call ‘craft connoisseurs’. People that are serious about buying handmade items from highly skilled artisans. They know the value of items made by hand and respect the skill and craft that has gone into every piece. They also want to chat with the exhibitors, find out the story behind the products and the inspirations behind the designs. Makers at Crux definitely can’t be shy!

    Former Crux exhibitor Another Shed Production. Photo credit: Viola De Photography.

    For many of our visitors, Crux is a regular event in their annual diary. A place to meet friends and enjoy a leisurely browse, chatting with exhibitors about the intricacies of their craft. Stopping for lunch at our onsite cafe and then working their way back around the stalls to pick up those pieces they just couldn’t stop thinking about. The Crux Cafe has become a well-known and enjoyed element of the event.

    Katie: I can definitely vouch for the amazing cakes! I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with some of our makers who have exhibited with you over the years, as well as discover new makers. Can you tell us a bit about how you select exhibitors and do you have any advice for applicants?

    Amanda: The selection process for a craft fair is like designing any composition. You want to include a diverse variety of designs, crafts and mediums that complement one another and appeal to all ages, genders and tastes. We do have makers that apply every year but like to keep an even rotation – as a general rule, no one does more than three consecutive years. It’s always a challenging balance to strike.

    Crux Craft Fair organisers Helen Round (left) and Jane Wellens (right).

    When selecting exhibitors, we are fundamentally looking for good design and a high-quality process and finish. To show this, good quality product images and thorough product descriptions are essential.  Aside from that, we are looking for unique designs that you won’t see just anywhere. And a good range of prices so that you have something enticing for all visitors – so don’t just include your most expensive items in your application. 

    We are always ready to welcome both emerging and established southwest makers into the fold. The breadth of creativity and skill held within the southwest alone is so inspiring and I’m always so excited to reveal our selection each year. I hope that can include some Made By Hand readers this year!

    Former Crux exhibitor Adam Cornish.

    Katie: Thank you Amanda. It’s great to find out a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes of your event and we’ll definitely look forward to seeing your exhibitor list and planning our visit after you’ve made your selections.

    If you’re a maker and you’re interested in exhibiting at Crux Craft Fair, head to their website here. You’ll find all the information you need, such as timings, pricing and stand size. The deadline to apply is Friday 21st April.

    Crux Craft Fair will be held between Friday 24th and Sunday 26th November in Rattery, South Devon.

    See you there!

  2. This month’s Gift Ideas.

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    Our April gift ideas are now live. Each month we’re enjoying curating collections of gift ideas for you. There are some beautiful pieces in our April collections. These 4 are all in our under £50 group….

    Yellow Bowl by Rebecca Perry. This expressively decorated pot is perfect for a small sized plant. It has been finished with a food safe glaze so also makes a great dish for food. The bowl is slip cast earthenware and is decorated with abstract slip decoration inspired by shapes and lines found in the urban and natural landscape. The interior is glazed a vibrant yellow.

    Sun Fall limited edition screen print by Print Garage. An A3 size four colour handpulled screen print on acid free card. Yellow, turquoise, deep blue and nature creeping in… Limited edition, signed and numbered by the artist.

    Rounded Stems Pendant by Karen Howarth. Black porcelain clay is used to make the basic shape before being decorated with a white slip and finished with Karen’s Stems pattern. The piece is carefully polished after three firings in the kiln to create a strong yet light and wearable piece of art. 

    Gift Box of 4 Hand Printed Linen Napkins – Schefflera Design by Clare Walsh. This set of four handmade linen napkins is available in saffron colour linen with orange print and soft white linen with orange print. The napkins are presented in a gift box and make a lovely gift.

    Have a look and see the other makers we’ve featured in our collections this month. Follow the Gift Ideas link above to see other curated collections by price, and you can always find more by browsing our Jewellery, Fashion and Home & Garden collections. If you need help choosing, just get in touch.

  3. Call for Makers: An interview with Jon Tutton of MADE London & Brighton.

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    Whether you’re a craft lover planning creative trips for the year ahead or a maker exploring exhibition opportunities, the news that MADE London and Brighton are returning this year is very exciting for the contemporary craft industry. These shows are significant events – they present innovative, beautiful and exceptionally well made craft in an accessible way to the public and provide opportunities for makers well beyond the events’ opening hours! We especially love the friendly and welcoming atmosphere created by the show organisers Tutton and Young Ltd. We can’t wait to visit and definitely recommend you put the dates in your diaries!

    Former MADE London & Brighton exhibitor Emily Kidson.

    Applications are now open for makers to exhibit, so we caught up with organiser Jon Tutton to find out about the application process and what he and his team have been working on whilst the shows have been paused….

    Katie: It was so good to hear the news that you’re bringing your shows back to London and Brighton this year. You’ve definitely been missed! Obviously a lot has happened in the world over the last 3 years which meant that your shows had to be put on hold. We know you’ve been very busy though and you haven’t exactly been ‘resting’ have you?! Tell us about what you’ve been creating for contemporary craft in Brighton.

    Jon: I don’t think ‘resting’ is quite the word. Whilst the shows were on hold due to Covid, we took the somewhat Quixotic decision to renovate and open quite a large art venture in three long ex-fisherman’s arches on Brighton beach to create the ATELIER BESIDE THE SEA. It’s an Art and Craft Gallery with newly curated group and solo art shows every seven weeks or so. One arch is a dedicated print gallery, another is stocked with work by designer makers from across the country – many of whom we have met at our shows, and the third is a teaching space where we have art and craft classes as well as being a unique events space. 

    Starting a complex bricks and mortar operation during covid and then running straight into a cost of living crisis has been a challenge, but two years in we find ourselves a popular and much loved part of Brighton’s thriving art and craft scene with visitors from across the world paying us a visit. 

    We have Instagram to thank for bringing artists (especially printmakers) and makers together with an international audience during the global pandemic, but it feels great to get back to face-to-face interactions and to allow buyers to see and experience the work in person. We are really looking forward to continuing this at the MADE shows this autumn.

    Katie: I’ll never forget my first visit to MADE London. It was a feast for the eyes – an amazing selection of exhibitors and the venue was beautiful. You’re certainly known for presenting makers and artists’ work in spectacular spaces. What’s the new venue for MADE London? 

    Jon: Our new venue ‘The Block’ is very, very new. It has only just been built! The location is fantastic, being just a few paces away from Angel underground station in Islington and more or less backing on to the Craft Council’s HQ. The exhibition space is set over two floors with a cool, industrial feel, high ceilings and great light – the perfect backdrop!

    Apart from the prime location, what excites me about the venue is that it’s the perfect ‘goldilocks’ size: big enough for us to have a substantial show with lots to see, but not so big that we have to compromise on the quality of the exhibitors we select. And, with its new state-of-the-art facilities, it promises to be a very comfortable experience for visitors too. We aim to be the best and most exciting craft and design fair in the country.

    Katie: Can you tell us a bit about the venue for MADE Brighton and how would you describe your different shows to makers and visitors?

    Jon: We describe MADE Brighton as a national craft fair for Brighton; we seek to attract the best makers to exhibit in the best venue the city has to offer. MADE Brighton takes place at the end of November and is pretty much a one-stop show where you can start and finish your holiday shopping for special gifts with original, quality work from Britain’s best makers. Both of our MADE shows offer a brilliant lineup of printmakers, jewellers, textile artists, ceramicists, homewares and more.

    We began MADE Brighton in the city’s stunning Corn Exchange – the Prince Regent’s huge riding school, with the widest span of timber arched roof in the UK. The venue has been subject to extensive and painstaking renovations, which have both restored its splendor and brought the facilities bang up to date.

    We’ve waited seven long years to bring MADE Brighton back to the Corn Exchange and we’re thrilled to be the first show of our kind in the newly refurbished space! Located in the historic heart of one of Britain’s most creative cities, right in the centre of museums, restaurants, bars and independent shops, MADE Brighton is the perfect centrepiece for a day out – or even a weekend away – on the South Coast. Don’t forget to visit Atelier Beside the Sea while you’re here!

    Previous MADE London exhibitor Virginia Graham.

    Katie: I tend to make a beeline for ceramics and jewellery. Are you personally drawn to any particular craft or medium?

    Jon: Ceramics is always interesting – I appreciate the skill and the craft of a well-made pot. We’ve bought some ceramics in anticipation of one day having the right cottage to house them in! I also like the vibrancy of ceramics from makers coming from a different direction – say an art or illustration direction. The clash of cultures can produce stunning work. 

    Again, I’m also drawn to culture clashes in jewellery, where animators, artists or puppeteers decide to make jewellery and come up with unexpected and delightful results.

    Previous MADE London exhibitor Kate Bajic.

    Katie: You’re open to applications for London and Brighton now. How do you and your selectors curate your shows – what do you look for in an exhibitor?

    Jon: What we look for is passion, whether it’s a passion for the traditional vernacular of a certain craft but edging it towards a modern iteration, or a passion for new forms. We don’t think of MADE as having a house style, nor do we want to follow any particular trends. Instead we want work that the maker believes in, and that is unique/true to them and looks fresh, innovative and exciting.

    Katie: Once you’ve chosen your exhibitors it must be such an exciting stage – designing the show and planning the visitors’ experience. Have you got any tips for makers who are thinking about applying?

    Jon: Good photos always help! And somehow showing your passion for what you do.

    You hear horror stories about certain exhibitions. The selection panel dozing as pictures are wheeled past! Our selection process is not like that at all. We do our research. The initial judgement is of course based on the photos submitted, but if there is any doubt (yea or nay), we delve deeper, looking at CV’s, links to any online resources, website, Instagram, Facebook, press articles – anything we can find to really inform our decision either way.

    The last stage is trying to find a balance of exhibitors to make sure that we have a good spread between different disciplines and different styles. Then we design the stand layout to make for a show that flows with interest around every corner. All to put together a really great and exciting exhibition for the visitors. We hope you enjoy your visit!

    Previous MADE Brighton exhibitor Suzanne Breakwell.

    Katie: Thank you Jon, we’re really looking forward to visiting both shows and are very happy to be sponsoring you again with awards for makers. We’ll eagerly await you announcing the exhibitor lists once you’ve made your selections.

    If you’re a maker and you’re interested in exhibiting at the shows visit the MADE London website here and MADE Brighton website here. You’ll find all the information you need, such as timings, pricing and stand size, and you can apply as an individual maker or as a group. The deadline to apply to London is 31st March and the Brighton deadline is 7th April.

    MADE London will take place 3rd-5th November and MADE Brighton 24th-26th November.

    See you there!

  4. New: Curated Gift Ideas.

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    We’ve launched a new Gift Ideas section on our website where you can find curated collections to help you choose gifts for your loved ones. Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start when shopping for presents, but you might have a price range in mind, so these collections are organised by price and will refresh every few weeks as the months and seasons change.

    We always love seeing our makers’ work in styled, mixed exhibitions and love putting collections together on our social media pages, so think of these new Gift Ideas collections as mini curated exhibitions with no more than 30 of our favourites in each price bracket.

    Each month you’ll find our top gift ideas under £30, £50, £100 and £200, as well as a selection of luxury gifts. Check in every month to see which makers we pick.

    Just follow the links in our main menus above.

    Of course, you can always find more by browsing our Jewellery, Fashion and Home & Garden collections or shopping by Maker, but hopefully our picks will spark ideas and help you quickly find something that’s just right.

    If you need more guidance please feel free to get in touch. We’re here to help you, whether you’re looking to mark a special occasion, find something to fit a theme or style in a particular room, or commission something bespoke. We work closely with our makers and can recommend designers to suit your needs, and don’t forget we also have Gift Vouchers.

    Happy browsing!

    Pictured above: Classic Silver Hoops by Suzanne Claire, Big White Mug by Edit Juhasz, Skyline Pendant by Karen Howarth and Black Porcelain & Gold Lustre Bowl by Penny Little.

  5. Value, sustainability and Christmas shopping! An interview with Anne-Marie Shepherd of The Design Trust.

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    We’ve had the huge pleasure of meeting and working with craft champion Anne-Marie Shepherd over the years. She understands what it’s like to be a maker and has been supporting creative businesses in different ways through her career. She’s worked with show organisers Tutton & Young and The Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen. Her knowledge of craft and all that goes on behind the scenes in the craft industry makes her a valuable member of The Design Trust – an online business school providing practical resources, workshops and guidance for makers and creative businesses. We caught up with Anne-Marie to find out more about The Design Trust’s new business planning resources, as well as big topics of conversations… value, sustainability and Christmas shopping!

    Katie: For our followers who aren’t necessarily makers, can you briefly describe what The Design Trust is all about?

    Anne-Marie: The Design Trust is an online business school and resource for small creative business owners. We offer free content in the form of blog posts on our website covering all aspects of running a business, from costing and pricing to marketing and finances. We host online and in person workshops, run a vibrant online learning library membership called The Business Club and create a diary and journal planner each year to help keep creative businesses focused, on track and thriving.

    Katie: You and Patricia at The Design Trust are a huge support and essential source of knowledge and advice for makers. We know that you work really closely with them and have honest, constructive conversations. Based on what you hear from makers, can you tell us what you feel is the real impact of a handmade purchase?

    Penny Little Ceramics

    Anne-Marie: The difference between mass produced and handmade is multifaceted. Handmade incurs so many aspects of usually just one person’s creativity, skill and time.

    From the initial idea and the making to the final product and the taking to market – it all comes from the same person. The maker must do it all! It takes time to develop and hone a making skill. It takes even more time to learn and put into action business skills. These all come at a cost, whether that be time or money.

    The handmade product isn’t the result of a quick process of mass making, as it is from a factory with practiced workers, with the product then being passed to administrators skilled in costing, pricing, marketing, and packaging. Handmade businesses don’t benefit from those economies.

    Katie: Yes and that’s not an easy thing for makers to talk about with customers. A handmade purchase goes towards all these aspects of a maker’s business, as well as supporting the independent physical and online shops and galleries they work with.

    Anne-Marie: As a buyer, I am always interested in the story behind the product. The inspiration, the process, the person creating. We know so many makers who were once lawyers, or surgeons, or teachers, or worked in the corporate world and realised that their creative calling was becoming too strong to ignore. How their previous experiences inform their work and practice is a constant source of interest. And this is where the relationship between maker and buyer starts, develops, and continues to build. Handmade has provenance which is so often the draw for buyers and collectors.

    The impact of handmade is the talent, beauty, and story. The off the shelf versus the unique.

    Judith Brown Jewellery

    Katie: So, especially at this time of year, we know that each purchase is hugely valued by the makers and small businesses like ours. These are challenging times, but it’s so important to look at the positives. Do you think we’re making progress in moving away from a throwaway society and that the increased interest in craft has had a role in this?

    Anne-Marie: Yes, I do! The weather this year has harshly confirmed the reality of a failing environment. And reinforced the fact that we have to all take responsibility for our own consumption. Whether that be food, homewares, or our clothing. There are so many amazing campaigns and campaigners calling for shopping small, shopping with less waste, or for changing our buying habits and promoting ‘shopping for life’. Refill, Just A Card, Holly Tucker, and Small Business Saturday are all well worth a follow for this.

    Craft is definitely playing its role. Not only in the marketing of longevity of handcrafted goods, but also many, many makers are offering mending workshops and services with buyers bringing old jumpers to have new life put into them through beautiful repairing, or ceramicists offering mending services for old but beloved ceramic pieces.

    Katie: Thoughtful handmade purchases hold so much value for buyers and lucky gift recipients as well. How would you explain this value to someone who doesn’t usually buy craft?

    Anne-Marie: I think the value goes back to what I said earlier about the time invested by a maker in learning a craft and the story behind the making. Craft is made by someone’s hands. A someone with a name and a history. Not by a machine or a system. A handmade object is created with thought, an inspiration, by talent, with care and at times ‘with blood, sweat and tears!’

    There is also value in the knowledge that the product is often unique. There aren’t millions of those handcrafted mugs all over the world. Your handmade mug might be the only one with that certain glaze or that handle with that special spot for your thumb to nestle in.

    Tea Bowl by Rebecca Perry

    The handmade object also makes you feel a certain way. It brings you joy looking at it, or it brings you warmth using it. Having beautiful well-made items in your life that you know may last a lifetime and which you can potentially pass down to future generations brings a feeling of genuine satisfaction. I have items of handmade jewellery which my daughters have already claimed. I love that they will continue to enjoy and use crafted items in their lives that I have loved and used in my life.

    I recently interviewed the embroiderer Emily Jo Gibbs who has the kitchen table made by her father that they used as a family when she was a child in her own kitchen being used by her family. There is so much wonderful meaning in that, isn’t there?

    This is the value of the crafted object.

    Sarah Morpeth’s Papercut Wreath

    Katie: Well, Christmas is fast approaching and we’re all making lists and thinking about giving gifts to loved ones. Which makers have caught your eye and what’s on your own wish list?

    Anne-Marie: There is SO MUCH exquisite work on, I could write a whole blog post for you just answering this.

    Sarah Morpeth’s papercuts are delicate, magical and beautiful. I love that she creates pieces across price brackets so you can have a piece of hers to hang on a tree of go whole hog and get an incredible piece of wall art.

    I haven’t come across Nick Vorstermans’ wood work before I love the shape of his turned vessels and also the fact that he adds colour. Really lovely.

    Bowls by Nick of Studio Critical:

    I came across Suzanne Breakwell’s paper craft pieces years ago and still think they are amazing. The skill and patience she must have to create such delicate detail in each piece! I’d be all fingers and thumbs!

    I have an embarrassing number of handcrafted cups and mugs and add to it often – still. Rebecca Perry’s tea bowls are just gorgeous – classy, understated and I imagine beautiful to hold a warming cuppa in. (Pictured earlier above).

    I have always been a fan of Corrinne Eira Evans’ chainmail jewellery and this ring is HIGH on my Christmas wish list – It’s absolutely stunning. (Pictured at top).

    There’s nothing like snuggling under a cosy blanket after a cold walk in the hills and I love the colours and pattern on Emma Swinburne’s woven textiles. This blanket scarf is fab!

    If someone was going to blow the budget on me (you can always hope), I have always coveted a Sophie Marsham hanging sculpture for the garden. I love the combination of materials she uses and how the metal really shines through the resin.

    Blanket Scarf by Emma Swinburne

    Katie: Thank you Anne-Marie… of course we love everything on your wish list! Obviously after Christmas comes a new year and that brings a time of reflection and planning for makers. You at The Design Trust have opened your shop for your brand new 2023 diaries and journal planners.

    Anne-Marie: Yes, these books are more than just planning tools, they include 50+ pages of invaluable business content across marketing, finance, and time management. They are business handbooks written specifically for creative professionals. They’re available now on The Design Trust website.

    Thank you again to Anne-Marie for chatting with us. If you’re a maker and you want to get more organised in 2023, here’s a bit more about The Design Trust’s two options catering for everyone’s needs. We have a special discount code for our readers

    The Diary Planner: A ring bound book in mint / lilac or orange / ochre. This is a diary with week to view for all your to do’s, actions, appointments etc.

    The Journal Planner: A hardback book in orange / ochre or dark brown / white. This does NOT have the week to view diary, but instead has a single monthly page where you can write your most urgent and important to-dos, your goals, and any actions around your finances, marketing, etc.

    These are full of exercises, tips and tools. The price for each is £50 which includes:

    • 2 hours of pre-recorded business training around planning
    • 2 x 2 hours of live planning workshops around finances and marketing
    • A Private Facebook group where you can ask business questions and get support

    You can get 15% off these books and other resources and workshops at The Design Trust if you purchase by 31 December 2022 using coupon code MADEBYH

    We also have another fantastic opportunity for our readers in the new year. Details coming soon… be sure to follow us and The Design Trust on Instagram @thedesigntrust and @madebyhanduk

  6. Championing makers for 15 years! An interview with The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair’s Ann-Marie Franey

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    It’s almost time for one of our favourite shows. The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair is a curated event celebrating makers and making. It presents a variety of handmade craft, from jewellery to glass, textiles to ceramics, prints, sculpture and more. It oozes quality, yet the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and you’ll find a mix of established and new makers exhibiting together. We’ve been supporters of this show for many years, but a bout of covid prevented our director Katie from visiting last year in its new venue, so the excitement has doubled for this year’s show! We recently caught up with the GNCCF’s director Ann-Marie Franey to find out more about this year’s event…

    Katie: I can’t believe you’re about to open the doors to the Great Northern’s 15th show! Huge congratulations to you all. I think we’ve been visiting for about 10 years now. Can you tell us a bit about your dream team and how the GNCCF started?

    Ann-Marie: We can’t quite believe it either. I founded the GNCCF back in 2008 with Angela Mann who helped navigate the show to success over the last 15 years. 2022 is the start of a new journey though as Ange has decided to retire to pastures new (literally – she’s swapping craft for cows and off to take up her new passion for farming).

    But the fabulous Victoria Scholes has stepped up to join the GNCCF team as Development Director. She’s obsessed with craft and brings with her many years of experience in the sector as a maker, curator and organiser so she’ll be a great asset. Victoria’s going to be responsible for fundraising and helping develop our portfolio of fairs and outreach activities. Next month’s show will be her first so she’s hitting the ground running and on a huge learning curve!

    Two other key team members are Jane Dzisiewski and Leanne Richards. Jane is responsible for designing all our beautiful branding and promotional materials and she’s our digital marketing lead. Leanne has also been with us for many years as front of house, managing our fantastic volunteers and welcoming our visitors.

    So it’s onwards and upwards for GNCCF!

    Katie: The venue has changed and you’re in the beautiful Victoria Baths now. What can visitors expect from this setting?

    Ann-Marie: Victoria Baths. Well, what can we say?

    It’s got to be the most original venue for craft anywhere in the UK. Designed to be the grandest baths in Britain when they opened in 1906, the decorative tiled and stained glass interiors of this Grade II listed Edwardian landmark sets off handcrafted items to perfection. It’s a warren of beautiful spaces and a great building to explore. Expect exhibitor stands in the pools….but we will try not to throw our newcomers in at the deep end! And graduate talent in the changing cubicles around the pools.

    This year we’ve teamed up with Green Grads in their first showcase outside of London – for an exhibition of graduate’s with craft and design ideas to heal the planet, curated by Barbara Chandler. We’ve also thrilled to be partnering with the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust this year – five of their scholarship award winners will be exhibiting and selling their work from the stunning tiled Turkish Baths. And new for 2022 will be artist installations, exhibitions and bookable craft workshops – all taking place in quirky rooms around the venue.

    Liz Willis Jewellery
    Zoe Stainton Needlefelted Sculpture

    Katie: There’s a line on your posters and flyers – ‘Craft says something’. How would you describe the show to someone who has never visited a contemporary craft fair before?

    Ann-Marie: Craft is imbued with narrative. Every piece tells a story from the markings of the maker to the reason we buy it. A particular piece speaks to you, and you just have to have it. The GNCCF brings all those craft voices together into a beautiful symphony. It’s a mecca for craft lovers and those who love shopping and buying lovely handmade things for themselves, their homes or as gifts. We’ve got jewellery, bags, functional ceramics for the home, sculptural ceramics and glass, wall art, cushions, lighting, furniture and much more. It’s about finding something you love and then loving what you find. It’s about finding something unique and something to last and treasure.

    You’ll be able to meet and buy directly from over 200 makers under the one roof. As an annual event, we have regular visitors who save up all year to buy work at the fair. We aim to have work for all pockets but even if you don’t want to buy anything it’s a wonderful day out browsing all the gorgeous work and chatting to the makers. Some makers will also be demonstrating their work and we have some free drop-in workshops as well as more intensive pre-booked workshops to make your own piece of craft.

    Tone von Krogh Ceramics

    Katie: I especially love visiting your show because I always meet new makers – graduates and established makers. You’re so good at keeping it fresh and changing the exhibitors. How do you select your makers?

    Ann-Marie: GNCCF is recognised by makers as one of the top shows in the UK. Makers apply and then we invite a panel of craft experts to select to ensure a quality and diverse show. We are more than doubly over subscribed every year so sadly we have to turn down many great makers. It really is a coup to be selected for GNCCF and that’s why GNCCF is really a cut above other craft fairs. We always make sure that over a third of our selling makers are recently graduated or emerging makers. We visit other craft events such as New Designers on the search for new talent and we like to partner with like-minded organisations to bring new features to the fair. For example, we’ve teamed up with Green Grads this year and will be showcasing over 30 recent graduates who are meeting head-on the world’s most pressing eco-issues and highlighting a return to nature and craft, and the power/desirability of local materials and strengthened communities. We’ve also teamed up with Blackpool-based community crafts organisation Aunty Social to give makers who come from non-graduate routes a chance to present their work.

    Paper Sculpture by Kate Kelly of Kaper

    Katie: We’re really looking forward to catching up with our makers who are taking part – Liz Willis, Zoe Stainton, Fran Buxton, Tone von Krogh, Ann Povey, Print Garage, Rachel Butlin, [vinegar & brown paper] and Kaper to name just a few – as well as enjoying some Christmas shopping! Do you find you’re personally drawn to a particular craft or maker?

    Ann-Marie: I love all craft. And always buy my Christmas present at the show. I’ve always had an interest in ceramics, but I’m running out of shelf space so will be on the look out for some stylish statement jewellery…or something to put on the wall…though don’t have much wall space left either!! Victoria is also a collector and has added to her collection at the GNCCF. As she’ll be working behind the scenes this year, she won’t have time to browse so, like me, will no doubt have to make some quick fire purchases!

    Print Garage

    Katie: We’ve always loved that you create different themed exhibition areas in the show each year. Tell us what we have to look forward to in this year’s Green Grads area.

    Ann-Marie: Very excited to be hosting Green Grads for its first showcase outside of London. We think they’ll animate the Edwardian changing cubicles very nicely with their products and concepts tackling the pressing issues of climate change, sustainability, biophilia, circular production, waste, recycling and depletion of resources. It promises to be a challenging but fascinating exhibition of some real graduate talent.

    Katie: Are there going to be any workshops for visitors to take part in or demonstrations to watch?

    Ann-Marie: As ever, many makers will be demonstrating on their stands throughout the show and we will have some drop in textile workshops for everyone to have a go. New for this year are pre-bookable craft workshops for a deeper dive into learning a new skill with some of our exhibiting makers – including madebyhandonline’s Jennifer Collier, who will be making really pretty paper flowers and plant pots – a great Christmas present! We’ve also got knife whittling and willow weaving and some upcycling workshops – all bookable via our website.

    Thank you very much to Ann-Marie for chatting with us. We’re so looking forward to the show! We’ll be visiting over the weekend and have the very enjoyable task of choosing a maker to receive an award, so we’ve been closely studying the exhibitor list! You can find the full list of exhibitors on the Great Northern’s website here.

    Here’s the essential info….. Address: Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Manchester, M13 0FE.

    Preview evening, Thursday 13th October: 18.00-21.30
    Friday 14th: 10.00-17.00
    Saturday 15th: 10.00-17.00
    Sunday 16th: 10.00-16.00

    Advance tickets are available from Eventbrite here. Look forward to seeing you there.

    [vinegar & brown paper] Etched Glass
  7. Risk Makers are back! A collaboration between Virginia Graham and Jennifer Collier.

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    A couple of years ago we started a new project called Risk Makers which brought together a group of our makers for support and challenge… to play, take risks with their work and develop their practices together.

    Our makers are based all around the UK and lots of them spend most of their time working in isolation, only coming together at exhibition launches or craft shows. In our project, we started to look at different aspects of a maker’s life, including health and well being, productivity and how we could help with supporting and developing new work at the same time as involving our audiences more. 

    The key outcome for us was that in order to properly focus on supportive challenge and to create new work we needed to have time to be together to learn from one another and work collaboratively. 

    We began with a small exhibition to present some preliminary collaborations. We didn’t aim to create anything commercial – this was purely to explore and be playful with ideas and skills. (Read more in our earlier blog posts).

    It was a very exciting time for us and marked the beginning of new possibilities. The exhibition was presented at The Contemporary Craft Festival in 2018 and we were absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response. It’s something we definitely felt we wanted to continue and grow with more makers.

    2020 and the arrival of Covid has meant that we are even more apart than we were before our project started. Although we never want our Risk Makers project to be a digital one (in fact the very opposite), we’ve started to pick things up again and come together as best we can online in order to try and recapture those feelings of potential and positivity.

    And now, we’re really happy to announce that we have some new collaborations to show you. The first is an exciting collaboration between ceramicist Virginia Graham and paper artist Jennifer Collier.

    They originally made an incredible tea set for our exhibition, and although it was made as an exploratory piece many people wanted to buy it! 

    Building on the success of the collaborative tea set, Virginia and Jennifer have worked together over the last few weeks to create some very special limited edition mugs. 

    The experience we’ve had of working with them, observing and sharing the design process, has been so uplifting during such tricky times! Everything has been done over Zoom, email and text messaging. Here’s what’s been happening behind the scenes:

    Virginia sent Jennifer some colour swatches to match with threads and papers…

    Jennifer chose papers, colour matched with threads and then worked into them with beautiful stitch in her inimitable style… 

    We then spent a long time narrowing down her selections to just 6 favourites and discussed different colours that could be used for the insides and handles of the mugs…

    The chosen stitched papers were then made into digital transfers and sent to Virginia…

    Taking shape. Virginia’s wonderful slab built, overlapped forms and signature black slip at the joins…

    The mugs needed 3 kiln firings. You can imagine the nerves!

    The big reveal over Zoom one evening last week…

    Jennifer has also designed and made bespoke boxes for each mug and we have little cards to go with each one to show they’re limited edition, especially made for Risk Makers.

    We are so proud of the mugs and we hope that you will like them too and enjoy the way we’ve combined both makers’ distinct styles.

    We’ll be launching the mugs on our website here this Thursday evening and sharing them over the Digital Craft Festival (27th-29th November). We’d love to know what you think. There will only be a few of each design available as they are limited editions. If they go well we’d love to create more and extend the range.  

    Here’s a little teaser for you…

    The idea of makers collaborating certainly isn’t a new one, but to us these mugs are multi layered with positivity and potential and fresh starts – just what’s needed at the end of such a challenging year.

    #RiskMakers #madebyhandonline

    All image credits Virginia Graham, Jennifer Collier and madebyhandonline

  8. Craft Says… The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

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    ‘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.

    Libby Ward

    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 find.”

    Visitors, 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.

    Eleanor Crane

    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 season.”

    Mizuki Takahashi

    The GNCCF will commence with a special preview evening on Thursday 10th October from 6pm-9.00pm. Following the preview, the fair will then be open to the public from 10am on Friday 11th October to 4pm on Sunday 13th October. Lots of our makers will be exhibiting, including Eleanor Crane, Tone von Krogh, Ashi Marwaha, Claire Allain, Mizuki Takahashi, Lynsey Walters, Libby Ward, Naomi James, Sarah Packington, Liz Cooksey, Ann Povey, Ruth Green, [vinegar & brown paper] and Zoe Stainton.

    Ann Povey

    Follow this link to the full exhibitor list and visit the GNCCF website for all details and tickets.

  9. A new year to Dream, Plan, Do!

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    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: 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 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…

  10. Makers at Middleport… Libby Ward and Alex Allday

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    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.

    The workshop tickets are available through or call to book 07914530281.

    To find out more about Middleport Pottery visit their website here. There’s a visitor centre, factory tours and different events throughout the year. It must be a really inspirational place for Libby and Alex to have their studio! You can see and buy Libby’s jewellery online with us here and Alex’s ceramics here.


    Lead image credit UKHBPT.

  11. MADE LONDON 2018 is open!

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    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.

    Libby Ward.

    Lisa Slinn Ceramics.

    Jennifer Collier

    Kate Bajic.

    Virginia Graham Ceramics.

    Dionne Swift.

    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.

    We’re all set to enjoy the next three days here and really recommend a visit if you’re in the area. There are over 100 talented makers and this is a great opportunity to meet some of our madebyhandonline makers in person, including Cathy Newell Price, Kate Bajic, Dionne Swift, Justine Allison, Libby Ward, Jennifer Collier, Helen Noakes, Wolfram Lohr, Sam Walker Ceramics and Virginia Graham.

    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…

    Here are the show opening times:

    Friday 19th October: 10.30am – 5.30pm, Saturday 20th: 10.30am – 5.30pm, Sunday 21st: 10.30am – 5pm.

    One Marylebone, 1 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 4AQ

  12. Fresh designs from ancient landscapes: An interview with jeweller Lucy Spink

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    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!!

    Which Makers’ work do you have on your personal wishlist? Teresa Dunne – I was given a scarf for my birthday (so I guess it’s not on my list anymore), Bronwen Gwillim – I recently bought a pair of her earrings, Heliconia Furniture’s chair in black walnut is a thing of beauty, Peter Lanyon’s No 4 shelves, Rebecca Proctor’s ceramics …. I could go on and on.

    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!

  13. The great Great Northern is coming!

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    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.

    We’re really looking forward to catching up with everyone. Lots of our madebyhandonline Makers will be there, including Ann Povey, Tone von Krogh and [vinegar & brown paper]

    Liz Cooksey, Fern Robinson and Rachel Brown….

    …and many more. Follow this link to see the full exhibitor list.

    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 presentation and there will also be demonstrations throughout the weekend.

    See you there!

    (Pictured: Naomi James, Jennifer Collier and Lynsey Walters)

    Open to the public:
    Friday 12th October: 10am-6pm
    Saturday 13th October: 10am-5pm
    Sunday 14th October: 10am-4pm
    Upper Campfield Market, Campfield Arcade, Manchester M3 4FN.

  14. The Contemporary Craft Festival 2018… Risk Makers (Part 2)

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    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!

  15. The Contemporary Craft Festival 2018…Best in Show of shows! (Part 1)

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    It seems unbelievable that a week has already passed since the opening night of this year’s Contemporary Craft Festival here in our hometown of Bovey Tracey in Devon. As with every year, we were excited to catch up with all our maker friends, we were in awe of their incredible work, the town was buzzing with energy, and we were both elated and exhausted by the extraordinary Festival experience!

    Now it’s all gone and we’ve had a couple of days to rest (and to avoid the onset of the ‘Bovey Blues’), we’ve enjoyed looking back at some of our pictures of our makers’ displays. This year we were mainly based in our beautiful yurt exhibiting a collection from our Risk Makers project (more of this in part 2 of our blog tomorrow). This meant that we didn’t have as much time in the main marquees as usual, but we did manage to zoom around early each morning to take some snaps to share with you. We saw exquisitely made furniture, colourful glass, joyful ceramics, imaginative and playful jewellery, beautifully textured textiles and so much more, all made by individual makers…

    Lindsey Mann Jewellery

    A joint stand of Tone von Krogh’s ceramics and Dionne Swift’s textiles.

    Teresa Dunne Textiles – we were so proud that Teresa won the Best Maker in the South West Award!

    Peter Lanyon Furniture

    Virginia Graham Ceramics

    Liz Cooksey

    byAliceWood Leather

    Mizuki Takahashi Jewellery

    Alice Heaton Glass. AAH Design

    Suzanne Breakwell Paper Sculpture

    Ruth Green Design

    Justine Allison Ceramics

    Lynsey Walters Jewellery

    Anya Keeley Mixed Media

    Hannah Dowding Furniture

    Penny Little Ceramics

    Little Burrow Designs

    Fern Robinson Jewellery

    Kate Evans Ceramics

    The Festival was a true celebration of the rich, creative talent of the UK, and a lot of fun too….the makers’ ceilidh dance was a hoot, the wide variety of food stands kept everyone spoilt for choice and very well fed, there were activities for children, workshops, demonstrations, a mobile craft film cinema and the brilliantly hilarious Pottery Throwdown. Our director Katie took part and the challenge was to make a teapot in 10 minutes. It poured, but with that spout, this was made for tea in a hurry or for those who like it weak…

    We’re very happy to announce that the winner of our Best New Business Award was presented to jeweller Lucy Spink. We’re looking forward to welcoming her and her beautiful work on madebyhandonline very soon.

    Thank you as always to Sarah, Nina, Kate, Fran and all the team at The Contemporary Craft Festival for putting on such a show – definitely winner of the award of Best in Show of shows!

    That’s all for now. Tomorrow we’ll share our Risk Maker project pics with you…

  16. The Risk Makers are coming to The Contemporary Craft Festival!

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    In just over 2 weeks it’ll be time for the fantastic Contemporary Craft Festival here in our hometown of Bovey Tracey in Devon. It’ll be the fifteenth year of the show! We’re really proud to be sponsors of this event and our director Katie will be joining the judging panel again for a very privileged look at all the stands before the show opens for the private view and maker award ceremony. It’s such a great social event too. Lots of our makers will be exhibiting over the 3 days and we can’t wait to catch up with everyone.

    And this year, there’s more… we are excited to announce that we are going to have our very own exhibition space at the Festival to present the first stage of our Risk Makers project. We’ve brought together a group of our makers to challenge, collaborate and take and make risks with their work. Over the last few weeks our Risk Makers have been planning, sharing ideas and beginning to work collaboratively with one another. (Read more about the beginnings of this project here). Here are some behind the scenes pictures from their studios…

    We’re interested in playing, teaching, sharing skills and providing the freedom to experiment with materials to make exciting combinations, and this could lead to new products, new ideas and new ways to involve more people in making.

    We have Marna Lunt collaborating with Virginia Graham and Jennifer Collier, Suzanne Breakwell with Claire Read, Dionne Swift with Tone von Krogh, Adam Cornish with Jennifer Collier, Helen Noakes with Dionne Swift and more!

    At the Festival we’ll present our Risk Maker’s work (some complete and some in progress) alongside their sketches and materials, providing Festival visitors with the first opportunity to see the collaborations (and the potentials) between these exceptional makers. This is just the beginning so we’d love your feedback.

    Through this project we’re also interested in exploring wellbeing and the positive results of making for comfort, release and therapy, as well as the challenges of being a maker working in isolation. If you’re visiting the Festival please do come and see us – we’d value your thoughts and experiences.

    We’re also very happy to have Andy Poplar of [vinegar & brown paper] with us. He’s been working with Marna Lunt to combine his emotive, etched glass with her contemporary embroidery. They’ve started to create a collection of extraordinary lampshades based on inspirational female figures and we’ll be exhibiting some of these in our yurt.

    So, keep a look out for our beautiful Risk Makers yurt (from Yurts for Life) and come and say hello. We’ll also have demonstrations and talks in the yurt over the 3 days, and there will be opportunities for visitors to experiment with materials and meet us and our Risk Makers.

    If you can’t make it to the Festival we’d still love to hear from you via social media, here in our blog or via email.


  17. Paperwork: An interview with Hannah Lobley

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    We loved hearing how Hannah Lobley became a paper artist by accident! Hannah originally specialised in wood working during her degree, but when she accidentally left a favourite book in the rain and was reluctant to part with it, she started to investigate how she could preserve the papers and celebrate their qualities. This led her to develop a new material which she calls Paperwork. Each page is layered and transformed back into a solid wood-like material, and from this Hannah uses traditional wood working techniques to create beautiful items for the home, including bowls and clocks. As Hannah says, “Ultimately, wood becomes paper becomes wood again.” We caught up with Hannah to find out more about her work….

    We really love the way your making process reveals the texts and colours from the papers you use. Can you tell us a bit about how you manipulate your papers to create such wonderful depth and pattern in your work? 

    After working with paper and books for 15 years now I understand and can, to a certain extent, manipulate the colours and patterns that will appear. But what I love about my process is that, with many of the pieces, I don’t know what will appear. I can design and work the shape and form, but due to the many layers involved, the surface patination is uncontrolled. When I start wood working a piece, it is a capricious process that surprises me every time. The beauty of this element means that every piece I make is unique and each surface texture will never be produced again.

    What’s your studio like? Do you have a favourite tool? 

    My studio is a converted outhouse in our garden. In the summer it’s great to get the doors open and feel like I’m working outside. It’s messy and dusty (just how I like it), but all my tools have their own special place, so I can find them easily!

    My favourite tool would have to be the lathe, my Dad taught me how to use it. It’s where the magic happens and where this process all began.

    A bowl on the lathe.

    Where’s your ideal place to go for inspiration?

    I love going for walks with my kids and clearing my head, but I would say I’m most inspired when I’m in the studio ‘playing’! I am a problem solver, so I like to get in there making. I don’t draw lots of designs, I need to see things three dimensionally. By making and seeing them this helps my designs evolve.

    Turning a clock face.

    If you can, describe a typical day for you?

    Much like everyone else, my day is a day of juggling. After breakfast it’s the school and nursery run, then it’s straight home to make a cup of tea (very important to get me going!) Then, it’s either a day in the studio making orders and new pieces or in front of the computer answering emails and writing proposals.

    We know you’ve been working on something new lately…tell us about your new oak shelves.

    I initially designed them as children’s shelves, but the feedback I’m receiving is that many adults love them too. They were inspired by my 3 year old, who is crazy about dinosaurs. He and his brother have so many books and they always fall over on their shelves. I started looking at bookends, but they were all very predictable. Then I realised I was positioning the heavy books at the end to hold up the rest; it occurred to me that this one could be shaped and static, creating a decorative and functional aspect. Once I started working into the books, the patterns that were appearing were amazing, but you could still see that they were produced from books. I have so many different designs in my head now, but I just need the time to make them!

    How do you begin to design new products?

    The designs can develop in many ways. As I mentioned earlier, it could be through trying to solve a problem in daily life, through experimentation in the studio, by talking to other creatives, travelling, etc. I have a notebook full of ideas that, again, I just need time to develop. I will loosely sketch a design, but my wood working tools and Paperwork material are my pen and paper. I start working into the laminated paper and the design develops.

    If you were to collaborate with another maker who would you like that to be?

    So difficult to narrow it down, but I really love Michelle Mckinney’s work, it’s so delicate and light, completely opposite to mine.

    What are your exhibition plans for the rest of the year ahead?

    It’s building up to being a busy year… In May and June, I will be exhibiting at West Bridgford Library in Nottingham as part of a Marvellous Materials Exhibition.

    In June I will be showcasing a piece of work with Design Nation at Eunique Design Fair in Karlsruhe, Germany. This work will be inspired by Nottingham and Karlsruhe, as they have been twinned cities since 1969.

    The autumn will see a visit north to take part in Art& at York Racecourse for the first time. I will be exhibiting with a group of Derbyshire based Design Nation artists.

    I am currently working with a Vintage Car Art company, recycling old Motor Sports Magazines. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we produce.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. Thank you so much to Hannah for answering our questions. It’s always so interesting to see behind the scenes, especially when the smooth, beautifully finished end products have been through such an exciting and messy process! Head this way to shop from Hannah’s collection. Hannah’s turned bowls are beautiful as well as being functional because they’re all finished with a coat of varnish. We also love her clocks and her new shelves. Please do feel free to get in touch if you’d like to explore a bespoke commission with Hannah.

  18. Risk Makers…the beginnings of something new.

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    In September 2017 we brought together an amazing group of contemporary craft makers from our community on madebyhandonline to explore different approaches to sharing contemporary craft and skills with the public. We had a day of exploration and nourishment in order to discuss ideas for a new model of workshop and to analyse current challenges for makers.

    Over the years we’ve often been asked to run workshops for the public and we wanted to explore this idea, but as we’ve always been concerned about the bigger picture for the craft industry and the makers we represent, we were also very keen to find new ways to create opportunities for our makers that would further their own creative practices. We’ve been struck by how many makers are struggling with working on their own and we see the negative impact this can have on confidence and creativity. The creative community on social media is so strong and incredibly supportive, but there’s nothing quite like meeting up with your tribe to boost one another and spark new ideas.

    This research day came about after talking with different makers about the challenges they sometimes face with their work, a desire to create exciting opportunities for customers to see more behind the scenes, and a meeting with Nicola Thomas from The University of Exeter. Nicola’s a Cultural Geographer and she’s been working with makers and craft organisations for a number of years. She’s interested in makers’ livelihoods and how creative policy works in practice. Together, we planned our research day to explore ways to combine exciting new experiences for the public with stimulating professional development for our makers. The day was supported by Exeter University and held at Kaleider – an inspirational organisation and studio in Exeter which brings people together to design, promote and produce exciting creative live experiences.

    It was an amazing day. We were nervous at first, even though we’ve known and worked with these makers for many years! It was a rare opportunity to have such a high calibre group of talented makers in one room and the potential felt so very great. We would have loved to have had all of our makers together, but of course this wasn’t possible. We invited a few from across the country who, between them, have a wealth of experience exhibiting, working with the public and teaching, are strong advocates for our madebyhandonline community, and who are all working primarily in isolation.

    In the room we had… textile artists Dionne Swift, Sarah J Perry and Marna Lunt, ceramicists Virginia Graham and Tone von Krogh, paper artists Jennifer Collier and Suzanne Breakwell, jeweller Helen Noakes, mixed media artist Claire Read of Little Burrow Designs and woodturner Adam Cornish.

    We also invited Richard Foot and Arron Fowler – craft film makers extraordinaire from R&A Collaborations. Although we didn’t know exactly where we were headed, we wanted them to start documenting the project. We also felt that their experiences from working with different makers and attending many craft shows would be valuable to our conversations.

    Fascinating discussions in the morning quickly put workshop designs for the public on hold as we began to discuss ways of creating space to play, challenge and experiment and we looked at how we could facilitate makers to support one another with their work. We focused on the idea of developing collaborations in order for them to teach one another, share skills and create exciting new pieces of work, both collaboratively and on their own. This clearly had to come first and could then lead to us creating new work and opportunities with and for the public.

    We explored the many positive impacts of makers collaborating with one another (emotional, social and professional). We’d already asked our makers to bring some of their tools and materials along for the day and as soon as we moved to these the energy and excitement in the room was extraordinary. It was hard to get them to break for lunch!

    Questioning the effects of combining apparently jarring materials, experimenting with mark making on different fabrics and the sharing of experiences within the craft industry made it very clear which direction we were headed!

    Our day was extraordinarily productive and also a lot of fun. It was such a privilege to be with everyone and we hope this was the first day of many. Together, we’ve now designed a pilot project and we’re hoping to start it this year. This isn’t just about creating support in a comfortable way. We want to nudge our makers to take risks with their work. Our day revealed that this is something that they don’t feel they’re able to do, due to working in isolation or a lack of confidence, the need to create ‘safer’ commercial products or having a work schedule that’s full, but not always in a satisfying way. This risk is now shared and it’s creating excitement rather than fear.

    Our makers have already begun to discuss ways they can work together and we’re working with Nicola to look at ways we could share this project with everyone and invite our audiences online and at shows to get involved. We have lots of ideas, and this project creates potential for developing a new kind of workshop for the public or maybe collaborative courses within universities.

    What happens when an embroiderer and a ceramicist are given the freedom to respond to one another’s work? What happens when a paper artist, jeweller and woodturner collaborate on the same piece? How does collaborative craft impact on an individual maker’s work and wellbeing?

    We’d love to know if this is something you’d be interested in following or getting involved with, and we’d very much like to open this up to more makers as the project develops. Watch this space.

    #RiskMakers #madebyhandonline

    All image credits madebyhandonline & R&A Collaborations.

  19. Preparing for her next show…a guest post by ceramicist Katie Lowe.

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    Lots of our makers will be exhibiting at a new craft and design show in Cheltenham next month, including ceramicist Katie Lowe. Katie uses slip casting to make miniature vessels with a focus on creating subtle gradients of colour. Her stands are always very attractive as she displays her vessels in ‘waves’ of colour, from pale to deep, dark blue. Like many makers, Katie spends a lot of her time working alone, so exhibiting at shows brings huge benefits. We caught up with Katie recently to find out about what she’s been working on in preparation for the new Made By Hand Cheltenham show….

    “After finding out about the Made by Hand Cheltenham show when I was at the Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey last June, I knew I needed to apply! With it being the launch of a new show I do feel honoured and excited to be part of it. One of my favourite parts of being a maker is doing the shows. I love getting feedback from customers and it does give you an instant buzz when the public want to buy your work. I work from home in a shed in my back garden and when I’m in the making zone I have very little interaction with other people, so the shows definitely make me feel like it’s all worth while!

    Since my christmas shows, I have been developing a limited edition orange to go alongside my current collections. There are always so many tests and experiments I want to do, but time definitely runs away! I personally love the colour orange. It’s such a bright and happy colour. I thought it would be perfect to use with my work because it’s blue’s complimentary colour, and it’s also quite bold and contrasting to the calm subtle gradients I usually use.

    I have also been thinking about new ways to display my necklaces alongside my vessels. They have always been a topic of conversation when I wear mine at events or shows, but after making them I just haven’t had time to promote and market them as I would like. I’m looking forward to presenting them at the Cheltenham show.

    Of course, alongside my experiments I have just been casting, casting and casting. With my work being so miniature it takes a while for me to fill my kiln, but seeing the blue waves inside after the firing is very satisfying!

    Another aspect of doing shows that I love is networking. I’m so interested in other makers’ practices and love making those connections with fellow exhibitors – making friends and learning from one another. Since the Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey, I have had my eye on Kate Hollowood’s lighting, so I’m particularly looking forward to catching up with her and bagging one of those! I have also admired Helen Noakes’ jewellery for a long time and always love inspecting her stand.

    Lighting by Kate Hollowood and Polar Bear Ring by Helen Noakes.

    I will be in the Start Up section at Made By Hand Cheltenham, alongside 9 other talented emerging makers. I am definitely looking forward to seeing their work. I am particularly excited to be on a stand next to jeweller Rachel Butlin. We’ve been friends since university and she has definitely helped me from the beginning. We shared a stand at the first show I exhibited at, so it will be like old times!

    Enamel earrings by Rachel Butlin.

    When it comes to planning my stand I always tweak it a little from the previous show. Looking back at the first one I did, I definitely feel more confident each time to make slight changes and take note of what catches the public’s eye. I like to look at my stand and feel that it flows from one side to the other, just like the gradients within my work. When thinking about new props I always take that into consideration. I’m hoping to make a feature of the new orange without taking away from my blue waves (maybe by using a different way of displaying the vessels in clusters), so keep an eye out for them when you visit!’

    Many thanks to Katie for writing this for us. We’re really looking forward to seeing the new orange collection at Made By Hand Cheltenham. The show will take place in Cheltenham Town Hall, 10th-11th March. We’re very happy to be one of the sponsors of this new event and we’re excited to be joining fellow judges over the weekend to present awards to some of the exhibitors. For full visitor information and advance tickets please visit the show’s website here. We hope to see you there!


  20. Renewal…A discussion with jeweller Sue Gregor about environmental impact.

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    The new year often inspires changes, but jeweller Sue Gregor has been working on a significant change to her practice for some months now. Sue is based in Bristol and she’s been making contemporary jewellery using acrylic, silver and real plants since 2005. This year is a kind of renewal. Her process of embossing remains the same, as does her exciting use of colour, but her focus lately has been on materials and her own impact on the environment.

    These cuffs are clearly recognisable as Sue’s work, but something’s different. We caught up with Sue last week to find out more…

    You’ve been making jewellery from glass quality acrylic for many years now. Can you tell us about the significant changes you’ve been working on over the last few months? 

    After becoming more and more concerned about plastic waste I have spent some time researching alternatives, and now all the acrylic I use is made from 100% recycled materials. It’s also free from volatile organic compounds and hydrofluorocarbon, making it more environmentally friendly as well. It is important to me that I am not contributing to the increase of plastic waste, but am doing something to re-purpose some of it.

    What was it that impelled you to change your materials?

    I felt that up-cycling some of the plastic waste would mean that I was not contributing to more plastic in the world and, in a very small way, could stop some plastic being dumped. I say small as my work is handmade and not mass produced, so my total production for the year could fit on a table top. However, I feel that by raising the issues and letting people know recycled acrylic exists means I might inspire larger companies who use acrylic to do the same.

    Was it hard to find the materials?

    To find the materials I did some searches on Google and had some samples sent from various companies. I wanted to look closely into which ones had the most recycled material content. I was delighted when I found Green Cast acrylic, which is made from 100% recycled materials.

    What’s the recycled acrylic like to work with? Are you pleased with the results?

    The first samples I tried did not give me the same results, but I did a number of test strips, altering my heat timing and pressure, and I’m now very happy with the results I can achieve.What else are you doing to lessen your environmental impact?

    I have a number of bins in my studio which I use for sorting out different types of materials for recycling. I have spent some time researching biodegradable packaging. I have green jiffy envelopes (padded with paper not bubble wrap) and brown paper tape (rather than plastic tape), cardboard boxes to pack my items in, both individually and for sending to galleries, and ribbon made with wood pulp!  This means my packaging will biodegrade quickly and could even be put on a compost heap! Some gardeners recommend adding these materials if a compost heap is too moist, so I am happy about that.

    I work from home and walk everywhere in Bristol, so do not have to run a car.

    What other plans do you have for the year ahead?

    As well as supplying my existing stockists, I am taking on some new galleries such as the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle and Torquay Museum.  I will be exhibiting at Made By Hand in Cheltenham, Made London at Canary Wharf and the SIT Trail in Stroud. Alongside these I have some exciting exhibitions and show offers this year:

    In January I am showing my work at the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool in an exhibition called ‘Journeys In Mind’. It is about raising awareness about mental health. This is another subject close to my heart and one that I feel passionately about. I have decided to be open about my family’s experiences in a hope that it will give others strength to know that things can change. I feel it is time that mental health was not something we hide and are ashamed of, but something we discuss openly and support each other through.

    I am also in talks with Garsington Opera about an exciting project with them.  They want me to make a special range of jewellery using leaves from their grounds.  I have done this before for weddings so am exited to see what I can create for them.  I love making more personal site specific pieces – they seem to have a real meaning for their wearers.

    Many thanks to Sue for the interview. We really appreciate the efforts that she’s gone to and admire how she’s proven it’s possible to maintain high quality, whilst lessening environmental impact. Head this way to view Sue’s online collection with us. You can also use our commissioning form on Sue’s page to contact her and order a bespoke piece of jewellery….

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