Tuesday, 28 June 2011

crafts at Glastonbury 2011

Just back from Glastonbury which for foreign readers is the biggest music and arts festival in the world and a rather special event. We had a Heritage Crafts Association area which was the nicest spot on the nicest field on the whole site, forget the horrendous mud images of the TV and papers we were camping in style.

This  was the view from my lathe
It was great fun this year to have friends along from the HCA to share the campfire with in the evenings, next door Sophie Hussain was demonstrating stained glass and running workshops where lucky folk got the chance to make their own small glass panel.

And here are a few of Sophie's panels in the evening sun
Guy Mallinson another of the tutors from the "Mastercrafts" TV program brought his gorgeous parachute shelter along and was running spatula making workshops.
One of the great things about working at Glastonbury is that you get to go a few days before the public arrive and enjoy the build up before the chaos starts. It is known for music and there must be 100 stages for live music ranging from the huge main stages with 20,000 in the audience to a piano in a tent, or even in a field.
Many go for the big names from U2 to Beyonce but I love wandering and dropping in on little gigs on small stages. Whilst performances may not have the polished professionalism you get real passion and fun. Top score this year was Mumford and Sons playing a tiny campfire gig for about 250 folk in Strummerville a place where the spirit of Joe Strummer lives on.

We were there for 8 days and saw the dawn on 5, this is sunrise over the HCA area, Glastonbury is quite a nocturnal place.
 The media love pictures of mud and when you get 250,000 people in a field and a shower of rain all those feet very rapidly do bring the mud up. Here are the first visitors arriving.
 And this phot taken from the same spot 48 hours later looking down the hill, these folk are queing for the loos.
Our field is high on the hill though overlooking the site and gets less footfall than most so even after rain it was not too bad. This was as bad as it got, this is Barn who came and helped me and demonstrated spoon carving.

I have lots of happy memories of time spent sat around the campfire with Guy, Sophie and all our friends and helpers, a week away from the computer in a field sharing song, dance and a good whisky is pretty good therapy.

Last two random pics, there is so much to see and do there and I tend to experience it without the camera.

A turf sofa.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

pottery in Stoke

I am no expert on pottery in Stoke but was just horrified to learn that Wedgwood has moved production to Jakata, Indonesia.

Here is a short youtube of the Wedgwood factory "Made in England"

and a longer one of a guy demonstrating throwing.

Now listen to BBC Radio Stoke doing a 3 minute feature from the Wedgwood factory in Jakata, "a little bit of Stoke in Indonesia"
Surely people buy Wedgwood as a heritage brand and once you move it to Indonesia don't you loose most of what made it special?

Emma Bridgewater thinks so this is her Stoke factory.

and a last bit of good news HCA president HRH The Prince of Wales has stepped in to save Middleport Pottery one of the last potteries working in stoke. More on the story here.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Balvenie Masters of Craft awards on TV

Nice clip of the Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards on NTD TV this clip focuses on Stewart Hearn of London Glassworks who won the ceramics and glass category. It was a fun evening and I was delighted to be presenting awards to such talented folk.

Balvenie Masters of Craft awards

Last night a select group of craftsfolk from around the UK left their workshops and headed to a very posh hotel in London's Mayfair (yes the one with the most expensive houses on the monopoly board and in real life too) We were at the Connaught to celebrate the winners of the Balvenie Masters of Craft Awards, I had the honour of being one of the judges and presenting some of the awards. We had a great judging team but craftsfolk are most likely to know Kevin McCloud off the TV and Nick Hand wonderful crafts photographer.

Well it was a wonderful evening, hosted by warm friendly folk from the Balvenie. The stars of the show though were the craftspeople so lets announce the winners.

Wood winner and overall Balvenie Master of Craft 2011: Christoph Gotting, violin maker
Christoph Gotting spent 20 years renovating the best 17th century instruments made by the like of Stadivari followed by another 20 making new instruments of the best possible quality. Apparently the ground and varnish are play a major part in the difference between a good violin and a great one. Christoph has undertaken 800 meticulously recorded varnish tests to produce instruments that are the probably the closest currently available alternative to an original Strad.

 Emily Ruth Davey, shoemaker

Ruth operates a shoemaking business from her workshop on the mid-Wales coast. She says her customers range from dukes to dustbin men, from young to old, yoga teachers, artists, poets, doctors and even the odd film star. Testament to her success is her current search for an apprentice

Glass and ceramics winner: Stuart Hearn, glass blower

Stewart has been blowing glass for 28 years and runs London Glassworks. While his pieces celebrate traditional craft, they also have a strong contemporary aesthetic. Stuart is passionate about passing on skills and provides regular training and workshops

Textiles winner: Iain Finlay McLeod, weaver

Iain is the fourth-generation weaver in his family. On the Isle of Lewis, he and his team of five weavers create high-quality cloth on traditional looms over 70 years old. They sell their cloth to some of the best tailors and fashion houses in Tokyo, London and Beverley Hills

Stone winner: Jacqueline Cullen, jeweller

Jacqueline is a jeweller working with Whitby jet. Specialising in Victorian mourning jewellery, Jacqueline has developed innovative processes and formats that celebrate rather than disguise the inherent flaws of Whitby jet, allowing the natural beauty of the material to speak for itself

Leather winner: Deborah Carre, shoemaker

Deborah is a hand-sewn shoemaker. She is currently building a business that focuses on making bespoke men’s shoes by hand and has a new workshop on the shop floor at Gieves & Hawkes, 1 Savile Row, London

Metal winner: Wayne Victor Meeten, precious metalworker

Wayne is a silversmith, goldsmith and precious metalworker, who aims to push the boundaries of traditional smithing by using 21st century technology. His designs are contemporary with wonderful form, line, texture and structure

After the food and the awards we enjoyed some very fine whisky, my favourite of the evening being the 21 yr old Balvenie portwood, rather out of my budget but delightful to experience. It was quite moving to see how touched Christoph particularly was to receive his award and I hope this helps shine the light on these folks dedication and skills and raises the profile of craftsmanship generally.