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They originally made an incredible tea set for our exhibition, and although it was made as an exploratory piece many people wanted to buy it!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


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