Creativity in Lockdown

I know that I am not struggling half as much with lockdown as some. I know that I am one of the lucky ones and that, for me, this time means more peace and quiet, less charging about and more time to create. If I am honest though, it isn’t as simple as that. So I am extremely grateful to have been asked to work on a couple of specific projects in the last few weeks: things to focus the mind and stop it raging back and forth over all the issues we, and I, face.

First one of the galleries which stocks my work approached me to ask about the practicalities of making a range of upmarket desk sets. This has been a real joy! Somehow creating on a small scale seemed to be just the thing: I needed to find some purpose again and small felt good.

Porcelain ink wells with added clay from the River Thames

Designing and making inkwells has been giving me so much joy

Then, a few days ago I was contacted by a man who wanted a special birthday present for his wife. He had seen my work in a gallery and wondered if I could use clay from his garden to make a commission for her. The house was not far and so I agreed to a socially distanced site visit. The garden was large and wild with a wonderful selection of materials. A soft grey clay with a fantastic texture; tiny pebbles lay on the bed of a stream like jewels; further down, in the woods, the clay was a deep reddish brown and it sucked at my wellies as a walked. Armed with a trowel and a fistful of sandwich bags I waded in and soon had a vast selection of materials to add to the porcelain which forms the main structure of my work.

Burnished porcelain with added colour from clay found at the bottom of a garden

The rhythmic scraping of the clay to reveal the strata of colour and to perfect the shape of the piece as it dries is always absorbing.

Today I have been fettling the first piece for this commission. Time has passed in a dream state. I realise, with some surprise, that I had spent the entire morning not thinking about anything other than clay. I feel restored!

It’s a Wrap!

I have become increasingly concerned about the type of packaging that I use: getting through bubble wrap by the mile since I started selling my work.  In a recent accountability workshop for like minded creatives we talked about this and someone mentioned paper bubble wrap

I decided to trial it at the Contemporary Craft Fair in Bovey Tracey, Devon last week.  I bought the Rajapack EX MINI system which comes on a cardboard dispenser and also provides tissue paper to interleave with the packaging.  I also bought a big roll of string and some brown recycled paper bags.  The cardboard dispenser and was easy to set up.  It’s quite a small thing to transport, but as you pull  it from the dispenser the ‘bubble wrap’ cleverly expands into a honeycomb structure.

IMG_20190607_125257_710 The verdict?  The first couple of pieces that I pulled off the roll didn’t quite go according to plan – maybe the piece was too big; maybe trying to use the dispenser while it was on the floor, under a table, hidden by fabric impeded things; maybe it is always difficult until the dispenser is a little less full – but I was delighted to have found an alternative to plastic which works brilliantly to protect smaller pieces and the environment.  It looks good too and there is a weird satisfaction in the way it comes off the roll!  I think the jury is still out for larger works which I was less confident were adequately protected.

Given that my work is about the fragility of our landscape, it is vital for me to find a satisfactory solution to the wrapping of my work.  Not sure I’m all the way there yet but I am certainly feeling much happier.  And let’s face it, if we all do something isn’t that better than a few good people doing it perfectly?