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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Craft debate

The Crafts Council UK and the British Museum have been hosting a craft debate on Twitter this afternoon. If you head over and search #craftsdebate you can still read the discussion, which covered definitions of craft and issues about professional vs amateur making and the value of craft in modern society. It was interesting stuff, although my feelings are mostly in agreement with this post by Ros.

I don’t like the suggestion that there is a huge gulf between professional and nonprofessional crafters, like making things mostly for yourself is something to be looked down upon because everyone with real skill and passion should be able to make a living from it. I don’t think the skill level of amateurs is necessarily lower than that of professionals. In pottery at least, I think access to resources is often the biggest difference between the two – I’ve seen people selling stuff at Potfest that I could make just as well myself, and amateurs at my college class produce work that looks highly professional. And while I’d love for more people to appreciate and be prepared to pay for handcrafted items made with love and care, I think there is a limit to how big the market can grow before it becomes just another expression of modern consumerism.

Etsy seems to be full of remarkably similar stuff that most people could make themselves if they tried, so it seems to me that the drive to make a living from it doesn’t do the reputation of non-specialist* craft any good whatsoever. Something that is charming and personal when made for yourself or a friend loses its charm somewhat when mass produced.

*I say non-specialist because as Ros acknowledges, people need to be able to make a living from crafts such as stone masonry & blacksmithing to keep the skills alive really because they require such an investment in equipment.

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I spend a happy few hours at Potfest Scotland on Saturday. This is the 3rd year I’ve been to the event and it was interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t. There was a very noticeable increase in the number of people with jewellery on their stalls (I guess because of the economy), which certainly gave me some new ideas. I treated myself to a pack of modelling tools and a ‘podpot’ by John Rivers of Riddings Pottery in Derbyshire.

'Podpots' by John Rivers © 2000-2009 Riddings Pottery

'Podpots' by John Rivers © 2000-2009 Riddings Pottery

This year’s purchase is similar to the design shown bottom right, but pea green in colour. I bought it to match an orange-red glazed one I bought last year, which is like the pot shown bottom left. I love how the shape of these makes you want to cup them in your hands; good pottery should always make you want to touch it in my opinion! (Click on the picture to visit his website).

Another potter whose work I have bought at Potfest in the past is Steph Jamieson. I love her smoke fired sculptural pieces; they are so tactile and have an almost bone-like quality to them.

Top of the list of things I would have bought if I’d had the funds, is a Raku pot by Pat Armstrong. She had some really fabulous ‘copper fumed’ pots which looked like they were decorated with nebulas and fiery suns, like something from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Leaf wall plaque by Joan Hardie, image © Jack Hardie 2006–2009.

Leaf wall plaque by Joan Hardie, image © Jack Hardie 2006–2009.

I also loved the leaf wall plaques by Joan Hardie of the Bitter Beck Pottery in Cumbria. There was a really lovely one, similar to this picture (click on the thumbnail to visit her gallery), all matt autumnal colours, that would have looked a treat in my living room if it wasn’t way out of my price range!

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heart keyring

A good friend had a birthday earlier in the week and I wanted to send her a piece of my pottery but her taste in jewellery runs more to vintage marquisite, so I made one of the hearts into a keyring for her instead. It seems to have gone down well and looks like I might be making another one as a present for a friend’s mother. I better get my Mum’s necklace finished soon, she’s going to be jealous!

Spent most of my pottery class this week glazing beads for various jewellery projects. Hopefully, the stoneware kiln is fixed so I might actually get my other painted stoneware tile pendants and another goblet fired before the summer break. And I’m off to Potfest Scotland tomorrow, which is always a good source of new inspiration and ideas (and a dreadful temptation to spend money!).

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First event

My good friend Amy is going to be featuring my work on her trade stall at Conpulsion – a gaming convention taking place in Edinburgh over the last weekend in March.

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