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.
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?
Well, it has only taken me about 18 months but at last I have found the time to enjoy reading Edmund de Waal’s book The White Road. I am glad that I have waited until the right moment as I have been able to indulge myself with soaking up de Waal’s palpable enthusiasm for the subject of porcelain without feeling rushed.
I have had the time and the peace to read most of the book whilst invigilating our exhibition at Fountain Gallery which has its final day today. Now this says something about the number of sales and visitors to the gallery and begs questions about self invigilated shows. (Thank goodness for Tregony Gallery which cheerfully goes on selling my work without me putting in an appearance). But that aside, the luxury of reading a well written book about the porcelain story has been a delight.
There are three lasting impressions from reading this book. First is the extraordinary excesses which those with money and power went to in the past. When Augustus the Strong of Saxony died in 1733 he had a collection of 35,798 pieces of porcelain (de Waal, 2015). Secondly of the heightened emotions which the efforts to create ‘white gold’ in Europe seemed to invoke. The alchemists searching for the formula for creating gold from base metals and also how to make white gold spent decades working in intolerable conditions, imprisoned and forced to experiment over and over again until they struck success (de Waal 2015). Thirdly the wonder with which people have always perceived this material. De Waal describes the first makings of English porcelain by William Cockworthy as an obsession;
” To make something so white and true and perfect, that the world around it is thrown into shadows as the blackthorn does when flowering in the hedgerows in early spring.” (de Waal, 2015, p.225).
Oh my goodness, I get that one! When I open the kiln and there it is: a crisp, thin, translucent vessel with a pure, creamy whiteness. It is a kind of alchemy if you ask me!