2016 workshop dates - finally!
I attended my last Christmas fair on Saturday in Reigate. It was a quiet day (someone said it was "panic Saturday" and I guess last-minute presents are more likely to come from Argos than artisans). But I enjoyed the Christmas Tree competition, and met some really amazing people, including a lovely retired artisan blade-maker called Mike Wardell who made daggers for Damien Hirst to use in his artworks.
I've really enjoyed this year's series of fairs. It's been hard work - particularly the setting up and breaking down - but I'm getting the hang of them, and there are always lots of interesting and enthusiastic people on both sides of the stalls. Plus, I get to bore people endlessly about polymer clay...
You never really know what the end result of a particular fair is going to be - some of the least promising venues have been the best from my point of view. I'm planning to do some bigger ones next year, I think - but only if Dave, Charlie and Tom will let me disappear for two or three days at a time!
Anyway, it's been a manic few weeks - Christmas seems to start in mid-October for artisan makers. Now, with Christmas nearly here and almost all my commissioned bangles, jewellery and tableware pieces finished and sent off, I've had a few moments to think about what I'm going to be doing in 2016...
Polymer clay workshops for adults and kids - I've finally sorted out a set of dates for polymer clay workshops during 2016 at Hobbycraft Crawley.... they are:
Wed 20 Jan, 10.30-1.30 - adult beginners
Fri 19 Feb, 1-4pm - adult beginners Sun 13 March, 11-12.30 - Kids fun polymer workshop
Thur 28 April, 10.30-1.30 - adult beginners
Mon 27 June, 10.30-1.30 - adult beginners
Sun 17 July, 1-4pm - adult beginners
Wed 17 Aug, 10.30-12 - Kids fun polymer workshop
Wed 14 Sept, 10.30-1.30 - adult beginners
Fri 21 Oct, 1-4pm - adult beginners
Click here for more info on the adult polymer clay workshops
Click here for more info on the kids fun workshops
I might also do a session in November for adults and kids to come and make Christmas decorations together - maybe Sunday Nov 20 - 10.30-12.30?
Bookings are already coming in for the other part of my teaching work, which is birthday treats and parties, and workshops for groups of adults round someone's kitchen table. Click here to find out more.
I'm rather nervous about it, but I'm doing my first demo at the London Polymer Clay Group at the meeting at the end of January - I'm showing people how to do the 'mica shift' technique, which results in a sort of hologrammatic effect in a flat sheet of clay. Beautiful but a bit fiddly, and I'm not sure I'm really qualified to demonstrate to lots of polymer clay experts!
Other business plans for 2016: I'm going to spend some time next year building up my range of retail outlets, and adding a lot more pieces to my Etsy shop, which has been surprisingly successful despite being mostly empty all year.
I've been accepted to sell on the Amazon Handmade platform, and I'm contemplating applying to sell on Not On The High Street, which is beautifully curated and full of amazing items, but also quite expensive as a seller. It does have the advantage of being heavily UK focused, though. Sending things across the globe gets a bit nerve-wracking at times.
I'm also going to look for a couple of shops that are willing to stock some of my pieces - please contact me if you can think of anywhere suitable!
And, most importantly, the actual process of making, which is what it's all about! I've got loads of plans and ideas - far too many, really. I have a notebook full of scraps of paper with designs and possibilities, and I keep having to buy new types of clay and equipment in order to experiment.
My biggest investment so far has been a jewellery kiln, which I found on ebay a couple of months ago and drove to Coventry to collect (from a woodworker, strangely enough). I'm really looking forward to having some time to make some more pieces from silver clay - as well as lots of possibilities in bronze clay and copper clay, which have the advantage of being much cheaper (though harder to fire correctly) than silver clay.
I'm not a gold person, but I do love silversmithing, and am looking forward to coming up with new designs, especially ways to combine the beautiful colours and patterns of polymer, with the simplicity and authenticity of silver.
And lastly... a new workshop! My hoarder tendencies, general untidiness and endless desire for new materials and experimentation mean that my existing 8x10 foot shed (which used to house little more than a lawnmower and strimmer) is now groaning at the seams.
We have a large unconverted loft and with the boys getting bigger (and bigger... and bigger) we need some extra house rooom. So early next year we are extending the mortgage to convert the loft, and I'm adding in a bit extra to build a larger workshop at the bottom of the garden, with decent electrics and a set of path lights so I don't have to venture down with a torch at night.
I am beyond excited at the prospect, but it will be sad to wave goodbye to the tiny hut which has served me so incredibly well. I feel a surge of joy every time I open the door down there as it really is the physical embodiment of my heart and soul. Hopefully Dave will find a purpose for the actual wooden building, but I'm planning to strip out all the worksurfaces and lights etc, so he'll end up with the shell I originally pinched off him (but with a few more holes!)
Anyway, that's my news. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, and that 2016 is full of happiness, joy and satisfaction.