CraftFinder’s interview with Katie – our madebyhandonline director.

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From the archives…

The CraftFinder team interviewed our Director Katie for their ‘Meet the Collector’ series and we thought we’d share the interview with you here as well…

Meet Katie Honnor, co-founder and director of the online selling site and contemporary craft community madebyhandonline. With Katie being such a strong advocate for contemporary craft we couldn’t wait to get a glimpse of her craft collection. And we weren’t disappointed.

What was the first thing you bought and what attracted you to it?

It was a honey coloured fat bellied mug by Clive Bowen – such a beautiful form with slip decoration. This was about 20 years ago and it was £16, which was a lot of money at the time for a teenager! I remember being aware that it probably wasn’t the sort of thing my friends were spending their pocket money on, but it was a moment of absolute clarity for me – I loved it and wanted to hold it and own it.

Katie didn’t stop there. Here’s a collection of Clive Bowen pieces unwrapped following a visit to his open studio, and later being very well used…

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Tell us about your favourite piece of contemporary craft.

Well that first purchase is still very important to me, but at the moment it would have to be my Easy Tiger Ring by Helen Noakes. It was a gift given to me at Christmas in the middle of a pass the parcel and such an incredible surprise! I spend my days seeing beautiful things on madebyhandonline and I just loved the humour and skill in this piece. The fact that it was a gift as well makes it even more special. I still can’t believe I own one!

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It seems fitting that such a fun piece should be won in such a fun game. How do you normally go about finding contemporary craft?

I go to quite a few craft fairs and exhibitions, especially the Contemporary Craft Festival in my hometown of Bovey Tracey, the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester and MadeLondon. I also follow other events on social media – this is a great way to discover Makers. The Devon Guild of Craftsmen is also on my doorstep and of course I can’t resist buying a few pieces online too.

How do you decide what to buy?

My purchases are always emotional really. I’m just drawn to things. I buy things that I feel a connection with and admire and want to use in my day-to-day life. I might see something at an event and spend a little while thinking about it before buying it. Whether I’m going for something functional or not I’d far rather wait a while and get something that I really love, rather than buy something cheaper for the sake of being quicker.  Lately, I’ve started treating myself to one piece of jewellery when I go to the big events. I recently bought some earrings from Maike Browning at The GNCCF.

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Do you consider yourself to be a collector of contemporary craft?

Not particularly, I have a collection of contemporary craft and I’ve been buying for a long time now, but I just buy what I love and it’s quite varied. I’m especially drawn to ceramics and jewellery, though I like a wide range of styles. I now have a few pieces by Clive Bowen as we always go to his open studio event as a family. Another potter I love is Hannah McAndrew, she makes the perfect shaped cereal bowl, and I have a beautiful dish by Marianne de Trey. I also love my Karen Dell’Armi bangles and my little collection of earrings by Julia Parry-Jones and Christine Kaltoft. I like to buy things that have a function, even if I don’t make use of them very often. But I guess that function doesn’t have to be literal, it can be to make me smile or evoke a memory.

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Do you think beautiful craft objects have more of a capacity to make you smile or evoke a memory than a mass-produced object does for example?

Yes I think so. But not in all cases. Any object can have that capacity, for example an object associated with a specific place or an object to mark a special time. But the handmade is special. It has more depth to it and it really means something doesn’t it?

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What else does your collection include?

I have two beautiful teapots that sit side-by-side in my kitchen where I can see them, one by Tone von Krogh and one by John Leach. Other ceramics that get lots of use are by Katrin Moye, Hanne Rysgaard and Taja. I like to buy things that make me smile – this is a really important form of connection so I have a few of Anya Keeley’s pieces and a beautiful Helaina Sharpley wire cup which hangs next to some of my other favourite cups! I have a beautiful ring by Claire Lowe which has bright red wool set in resin and I commissioned pachadesign and paper artist Jennifer Collier to make me a lamp, I also have one of Jennifer’s paper milk jugs – these pieces are very special to me.

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Obstacles such as money and space aside, what piece of contemporary craft would you most like to find in your stocking for Christmas?

My father-in-law Michael Honnor is a painter and printmaker so I’m very lucky to have some amazing pictures on my walls, however I’d also love to have something a bit more three-dimensional, such as a Helaina Sharpley wall piece or a piece with lots of texture and energy by Dionne Swift. As I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen what I’d really like is a really comfortable, but beautiful chair – Christian O’Reilly’s Alice Chair would be perfect. And if I could have one of Samantha Bryan’s fairies for company that would make me very happy!

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Would you say that the theme of your collection happiness?

Yes, I suppose I do. It really is something that gives me great happiness and pleasure.

Do you have a tip for aspiring collectors?

Be clear about what you like and buy the things that you make a connection with, and certainly not something you think a ‘collector’ should have. Buy what you love, and what you can afford – or wait until you can afford it.

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Many thanks to CraftFinder for the interview and for letting us share it with you here.