The Potter has Landed

A couple of years ago I was invited to apply for membership of the Design Factory, an organisation funded by Arts Council England which exists to promote artist integrity, raise standards and to ‘support and develop the very best designers/makers in craft practice today’.  I was hugely flattered.  I had only just finished my diploma, didn’t know what I was doing and was crashing around in the dark.  Through their scheme of mentoring, workshops and support at exhibitions I have learned so much.

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Design Factory stand at Top Drawer.

Now, in addition to having an artist’s profile of which I am really proud and which I could not have come up with without attending a writing workshop organised by them, I have taken part in exhibitions which I would not have dreamed of being involved with if it had not been for their support.  One of which, Top Drawer, this January has done enormous things for my career, leading directly to 3 exhibitions in interesting places over the next year:  This July I will be the featured maker at Hybrid Gallery in Devon, at the same time I am exhibiting alongside Debbie Barber, an established maker whose work is well known at Red Barn Gallery , one of the best known galleries in the North-west.  Then, in the autumn, I will start preparations for a collaboration with artist Candide Turner Bridger for an exhibition in Norfolk at Great Walsingham Gallery next year.  I can hardly believe my luck!

This week, probably as a direct result of the opportunities which they have provided me with,  I was informed that I have been invited to become a Flair Level member of the Design Factory which, in addition to looking great on my CV will give me even more opportunities to learn and to exhibit both nationally and internationally.  I am really excited about this.  It feels like a true endorsement of what I have been trying to do since I finished the diploma and it definitely promises to open doors for me.  There is just one tiny problem – I think I need to get back to the studio and get making – so much to do, so many pieces to create, so little time!

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Time to get back to the studio and start making!

 

 

 

I was a Trade Show Virgin

Let’s be honest from the start here – when I signed up to be part of Top Drawer as a part of the Design Factory team I had absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for.  I had not really thought about what a trade show is and I hadn’t really considered whether it was appropriate for my work or not.  As I catch my breath after my first ever trade show I find myself reflecting on what I got right and what I might have done differently if I had had the presence of mind.  So this week I thought I would share with you my post show feelings:

  • If you possibly can, especially for your first time, go as part of a group. safety%20in%20numbers1

You might get a little less space than if you went on your own but what you get instead is someone reminding you of all the things you have to do, organising the stand, supporting you before and during the event and producing a more corporate feel to the area – I think our area looked great because  it was so coherent in appearance.

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Our stand looked coherent.

 

  • Do not trust the public transport system.

I found travelling to an unfamiliar venue first thing in the morning discombobulating.  On the first day my journey took double the time that it was expected to and I arrived late and flustered.  The second day was better but still not perfect.

  • May friends with your neighbours.

cachedimage1Everybody needs good neighbours!  To look out for you when you need a bite to eat or drink, to boost your energy levels and with whom to have a bit of a laugh and to hold the fort for you when the public transport system lets you down.  Thanks guys!

  • Say no to nothing but promise nothing either  9c47ce60901c0e8e0aee74b0eced525f1

I now have a pile of interested parties to contact.  Potentially I have some very exciting opportunities to look forward to.  If I had promised something to the first person who showed an interest, I would have felt rather pressed to agree to some of the later ones.  By agreeing to things in principle and suggesting that I follow up later, both the potential customer and I have time to consider all the opportunities that the show presented and neither side is stuck with something that might not be the best for them.  I am hugely looking forward to making contact with the people who expressed an interest over the next few days and having more detailed discussions with those who, in the cold light of day, really do want to do business with me.

  • Take a goodie bag with you

I seem to have eaten rubbish for 3 days.  Next time I do a trade show I will make sure that I have plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge so that I can stock up each day and not fill up on chocolate and muffins!

  • Do not party until the middle of the night before!

On the day before Top Drawer I set up my stand in very good time in order to drive 150 miles, party half the night, eat and drink far too much and then drive back on the Sunday morning to man my post.  It was not a good look!  Party all night!

  • Be prepared

 

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The invaluable ‘little green book’.

Due to the fact that my wonderful daughter was left in charge until I could get back from Somerset on Sunday I thought it would be a good idea to give her a structure for her conversations with possible customers.  Throughout the weekend ‘the little green book’ was to prove invaluable.  I could never have remembered the detail of all those conversations if I had not had a structured approach to the notes that I made immediately afterward each one.

 

  • Don’t plan too much for the few days afterwards.

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    don’t plan too much for after the show.

By the end of day 3 I couldn’t feel my feet, my brain was in a complete fug and the only place that I wanted to be was my bed – for a very  long time!  So it was a bit of an error to have to go into the studio on the following day to work on 4 urgent commissions.  I need to think that through more carefully next time.

  • Get help

 

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Set up and Break down was a nightmare

The unloading, set up, break down and removing of the stands is a nightmare.  If it had not been for my strong, helpful, patient and tolerant husband I would not have coped.  Simple!

 

 

  • Smile

All the time, at everyone!  bc35526f361a06e4957a0716a80112761

 

Baby, It’s Gloomy Out There!

 

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Beverley Brook on a grey day in December.

My Beverley Brook vessels have been going down a treat and, in my enthusiasm to make each one unique I went for a walk along the brook at the weekend to try and get some more images to use in the inside of the vessels.  The light was awful – grey with a hint of fog – and so I was not exactly hopeful of getting a shot worthy of the Royal Photographic Society but in actual fact it doesn’t seem to matter for what I want.  So this week I thought I would do a bit of a ‘how to’ blog because a lot of people have been asking me about the interior decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1:  Take some photos.  The deer are still feeling a bit frisky and so it was not difficult to find a couple of stags playing ‘I’m the biggest deer in the Park!’

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I didn’t have to get close which is good because I am really anti people stalking the deer and surrounding them with cameras!  These two were not really fighting.  In fact they looked distinctly bored and the younger one was simply going around the herd picking on all the other stags in order to annoy them as far as I could see.

Step 2: Download your image and enhance the lighting and contrast in Photoshop.

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By now the image is looking a little extreme but that is what I need if the decal is to work well.

Step 3: Remove anything that looks the least bit confusing:

 

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all the bracken has to go for starters.

Finally order the decals, stick them inside the vessel and fire.  I have not got that far with this image yet – it will probably make an appearance on a piece to feature in the Top Drawer exhibition that I am taking part in after Christmas but I am hopeful that it will look something like this:

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