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!