2017 is ticking gently towards it’s festive finish with 2018 peeping infant like on the horizon, full of hope for all that it can be, exciting in it’s possibilities. This year has of course been filled with some utterly wonderful moments and milestones for Teapot Towers bringing with it glorious people, experiences and a new member to our little clan.
Where my carving is concerned probably the most rewarding side of my work are workshops and the enthusiasm and interest from people looking to learn a little about this craft has been completely heart warming. Every time I teach I am gifted with people who embrace my slightly romanticised passion for carving and I hope leave with a little spark of it too. I spent a wonderful few days at The Goodlife Experience where people’s interest was almost overwhelming in the most lovely sense. As a festival it is unique in the connection almost everyone there has to makers and their work; it’s both rare and uplifting to find so many people who believe in the importance of what crafts people are doing and being there is an utter joy.
This year saw my first forays into craft markets, introducing me to some gems who look to champion the work of makers, seeking to do more than offer a space to sell that work and actually showcase and support talent. They also offered a chance to talk to other makers myself, discover what folk are up to and see the strength in the making community. It’s not always easy for organisers to maintain a friendly, human feel throughout while also putting on a great event but I’ve been lucky enough to find myself attending a couple of the real shining lights. SoLo Craft Fair curate markets across South London and each one stands out for both the carefully put together selection of makers but also for the friendliness and warmth that comes from it’s founders. Crafty Fox, while remaining one of the more established names in the makers scene also maintain a human approach, rooted so much in supporting makers that is really quite refreshing. Also pretty wondrous is The Mother Maker, it would be lovely if this world could get it’s act together and not need initiatives designed to specifically give women a foothold but honestly, we do and this is certainly worth shouting about.
My time with Manchester Folk Festival offered something new for me which proved to be so very rewarding as I had to opportunity to curate a selection of workshops within a space across three days. Once again people proved open and excited about taking up new crafts as we welcomed Claire Gould and Jenna Clark to lead workshops along side SingleMaltTeapot at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. What I really loved about this kind of set up is that it is a wholly encouraging space. I believe hugely that folk should be applauded for trying something new and using a space in this way creative a welcoming environment for that where you can also see other skills you might like to pick up; at the same time shedding light on the work of other makers and helping plant the idea with people that hand make work is filled with passion, time and heart, connecting them to the things they may see at markets or fairs. Manchester proved so full of love for the idea and filled our workshop with friendly, eager faces!
Hmmmmmm, what else could I have forgotten in amongst all this…..nope, nothing much of import.
Okay, there was one little thing, a very little thing who is getting bigger by the minute. In reality, that little thing rather eclipses everything else, Willow is a bloomin’ wonder. Anything that can wake me up at 5:30 in the morning then instantly make me forget it with a smile from her crib is pretty marvelous. I don’t really think that either myself or Sam were really quite prepared for just what parenthood brings, I’m not sure that with a first child it is possible to get something on that scale either but boy, everything changed. It’s relentless in its demands and that’s what makes it so tough sometimes, there’s no one big thing that is too much to handle but all those little things that come with raising a child never, ever stop.
Fortunately, all that is completely over shadowed by every smile, giggle or moment of cute advancement in this tiny human that is so entirely fresh to the world. Each day seems to bring something new, noises or abilities and carries the overwhelming ability to melt my heart in a moment simply by sitting and popping her arms up to tell me she would rather have a cuddle than play with her toys now.
I’m full of optimism for next year, there is so much from 2017 that I can’t wait to take forward but before I get onto those there are a couple of monkeys I need to shrug off my back. Distraction and confidence. A little to often, when my confidence dips, I can get distracted from a lot of the things I’d like to be doing; building community, keeping up contact with wonderful makers and driving forward with my designs and ideas. This year….and any following that I know that I need to hold onto the conviction and passion for making changes for the better for makers and though I’ll always have that voice of imposter syndrome I want to just give it a little shhhh more often and make things happen.
Where will I be trying to aim all that though? What’s coming up?
I’ll be back in some of my favourite places and also taking workshops to new spots. I’m very excited to be back on The Goodlife Experience line up for 2018, running even more workshops this year to get as many of you carving as I possibly can. In the first few months of the year I’ll also be popping up in Malvern, Manchester and Cardiff to teach this craft I love so much. I am also looking forward to curating more spaces and bringing more incredible makers together to introduce folk to what they do. There is a heart warming enthusiasm from the makers I speak to to spread their knowledge to new people and to work together to find as many new faces as possible. The welcoming communal workshop spaces are something I can’t wait to do more of.
At some point in 2017 I started to feel like a crafts person, while of course I am ever learning and inspired by the makers around me I now see new things and wonder how I might adapt them to my own personal style rather than just giving them a try. From that there are new designs and concepts ready to prototype and bring to folk looking to really marry together the idea of being able to use something completely beautiful. I’ve always wanted to create items of use but I am becoming more comfortable with the idea that folk sometime just like to look at them too. My aim with my new designs is to not weigh more on one side of beauty or function than the other.
I’ll also be bringing some new ways to get hold of my work. I’ll be launching soon with The Creatives Corner and seeking other stockists who share their belief in supporting their makers to allow them to thrive. Online I’ll be adding a means to order custom spoon designs, selecting wood type and designs to have something utterly unique. I’ll be firing up on Twitch very soon and also have some plans for a patreon that will give folk a chance have some hand carved goodness while supporting the process for pocket change.
Across the rest of the site there’ll be resources popping up and tutorials to give budding carvers guidance on new projects, tool care and technique; aswell and information to help with different wood types. You’ll also find more coming out of the SingleMaltTeapot blog as we reconnect to our search for the goodlife, or our own little idea of it and in this area it is very much a we, our new family. We are the first to feel that ideal has gotten a little lost at times but as we make our own steps back along that path those stories will find themselves told, stumbling though they may occasionally be.
Myself, Sam and Willow will be growing and living and loving, for that alone I am looking forward to 2018. There is of course plenty more besides and I do hope you’ll keep along with us, telling your story however you can too.