Team Craft! An interview with Sarah James of Made By Hand Wales…

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Made By Hand Wales The Contemporary Craft Fair returns to Cardiff at the end of this month for its 3rd year. It will  showcase a selected group of 135 makers and artists, set in the beautiful surroundings of Cardiff’s City Hall.

At madebyhandonline we are very proud to sponsor the event again and will be helping out during the show, as well as presenting a maker award. The event is organised by Sarah James and Nina Fox – the brilliant team behind The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey in Devon. Sarah is utterly devoted to contemporary craft. This is the 3rd event in her portfolio and she’s an avid supporter of makers and other craft organisations. We caught up with Sarah to ask her a few questions about this years Made By Hand show…

You’re very active and supportive on social media. Tell us a bit about #teamcraft.

Makers and followers of craft have a strong community on social media, and as a former maker myself I can identify with lots of the ups and down of being a maker, #teamcraft is my way of joining the conversation, to show support and to say “together, we are stronger”. I also like to show support to fellow event organisers and online retailers (you!), who stick their neck out and it’s my way of saying “I’ve got your back.” I support others that I believe have the maker’s interests at heart. Thanks for noticing!

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The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey is a well established and respected event. It must be really rewarding to see the Made By Hand Wales show growing as well.

Being a proud Welsh person, it’s difficult to put into sensible words how much I love Made By Hand, Cardiff. It’s held in a jaw-droppingly beautiful venue, City Hall. I love the marbles statues and sweeping staircases that are dripping with historical importance. I’m quite in tune with the Welsh psyche and it’s really interesting using different approaches to develop the market. This year we have focused just as much on the maker and where they are from as the product itself. I wanted to highlight that the work is made by individuals from places that you might have visited. Not just amazing makers from Wales, but I’m also getting excited about how many makers from all over the UK and Ireland are heading to Cardiff at the end of the month. Ultimately, it’s about celebrating the individual, which is what craft is all about.

I know you have a great collection of contemporary craft at home. Can we share some pictures of some of your favourite purchases?

I’ve just bought a piece by Anya Keely, I love her whimsical work, they take me to a lovely happy place.

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Adam Cornish’s gorgeous turned wood pieces are also very beautiful, they have a lightness of touch that is incredibly difficult to achieve in wood. You can meet Adam and Anya at Made By Hand.

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One of my most precious possessions is a teapot by the lovely, late Morgen Hall. Morgen gave a masterclass at Made By Hand when it was at Tredegar House in 2011. My mother bought me the teapot in 1994 and it’s very special to me. Over the years, getting to know Morgan and finding what a generous, humble spirit she was, makes it all the more special. We lost her too soon.

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What’s on your shopping list for Cardiff this year?

I always try and get as many Christmas gifts as possible from Made By Hand. Over the years my love of handmade has rubbed off on my family so we often give each other something handmade. I have a bit of chopping board and wooden spoon habit, I’m not sure where it’s come from but I do love cooking, and working with tactile boards and spoons makes me happy! I’m currently in the market for a good scarf so I’ll be spoilt for choice at Made By Hand. Sian O’Doherty is very close the top of my wish list. She’s our poster girl for the event, I am totally in love with her soft and robust knitted shawls and throws.

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I like to buy my mother some jewellery and I really love the look of Viki Pearce’s folded silver pieces, I can’t wait to see them in the flesh.

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Helen Round has really practical and stylish household textiles in gorgeous colours. I should maybe mention that I also buy far too many tea towels. I’ve got armfuls of them. Do you think I need help?

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As well as shopping, what else can visitors look forward to at the show this year?

Made By Hand is rather jam packed with things to do over the weekend. As well as shopping from 135 makers, you can book a workshop, watch a craft demonstration and listen to a world class maker give a masterclass. Children can enjoy free workshops provided by Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre and Kings Monkton School. You can even join in the with Made By Hand’s Pottery Showdown with the winner and finalists from BBC’s Pottery Throwdown. Our Made By Hand Café will keep your energies in check and make sure you allow enough time to go shopping! Could I suggest that you buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queues!

See you in Cardiff.

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Many thanks Sarah! We’re really looking forward to the show. We’re busy planning a little display of work by our makers that will go in the entrance of City Hall and we’ve been enjoying looking through the list of exhibitors and finding out about everyone taking part. Here’s a link to the full list of exhibitors and, for those of you who know your makers, here are links to some of our makers who’ll be exhibiting: Caroline Rees (pictured above), Anne Morgan, Adam Cornish, Sarah J Perry, Karen Dell’Armi, Hannah Dowding, Cathy Newell Price, Helen Brice, Su Trindle, Katie Almond, Eluned Glyn, Clare Collinson, Katy Luxton, Nettie Birch, Sian O’Doherty, Susan Holton, Loosethread, Anya KeeleyPrint Garage and Ruth Green. See you there #teamcraft!