Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Working with Clare Gage: Day Two

Didn't get to do any making today but did have a good old chat with Clare about the more business side of things. She's been to London this weekend, queuing to get into Liberty, a name I'm sure you've heard of - reknowned for their 'Liberty prints' and links to Mr.(coolguy) William Morris :)

Liberty Best of British

For three years now, Liberty have held an open call for designer makers to show off their products. Each person gets three minutes with a Liberty 'panel' to discuss their work and the potential to be on TV. Clare queued for 4 hrs and initially anyone who wasnt a jeweller i.e. Clare, was called up. Clare said she walked past a staircase full of jewellers who, because the industry is flooded with jewellery makers will probably have been there twice as long.
She had her three minutes and was told that they really liked her work and she obviously knows her market but that Liberty are looking for products that involve printing on ceramics - which isn't suprising, but they did give her a contact card so that really IS something. They also give you feedback and the panel suggested 'the shop at bluebird' for Clare and guess who...ANTHROPOLOGIE!! I was really excited when she told me and even more astounded when she said she'd already been approached by ANTHROPOLOGIE twice! :O

the shop at bluebird, 350 King's Road, London

So why isn't she selling her cups to them already?
Because Anthropologie want to sell her cup say for £30 pounds but have a set mark-up of around 28% so instead of getting £16 pounds from each sale like normal if she were selling directly to a shop, she only gets £11 and Clare can't afford that difference. Surely there is a way round this. Anthropologie sell her cup for a little extra? In order for Clare to get her £16, Anthropologie would have to sell a cup for £45 :O That is getting expensive and if they can't sell her cups to the public, then there's no point in stocking. Its tricky.

Anthropologie Opens in Regent Street
Anthropologie, Regent Street store, London
Stores buy items from a wholesaler or distributer and increase the price when they sell the items to consumers. The increase in price provides money for the operation of the store and the salaries of people who work in the store.

A store may have a rule that the price of a certain type of item needs to be increased by a certain percentage to determine how much to sell it for. This percentage is called the markup.

If the cost is known and the percentage markup is known, the sale price is the original cost plus the amount of markup. For example, if the original cost is £4.00 and the markup is 25%, the sales price should be £4.00 + £4.00*25/100 = £5.00.
A faster way to calculate the sale price is to make the original cost equal to 100%. The markup is 25% so the sales price is 125% of the original cost. In the example, £4.00 * 125/100 = £5.00.


Whilst we were packing pieces with purple and gold shreddies into Clare's purple branded boxes, emptying the kiln, wiping down the glazed pieces ready for firing and training to be a clay dustBUSTER..we got talking about Clare's upcoming shows and it looks like I'm gonna get to come along to help!! YEY! She says it'd be good for me to see how she sells and interacts to the public :) Conversation lessons! Woop! So I'm going with Clare to the Wirksworth Festival on 10th-11th September and I'm very excited!!
Here's a list of all the shows Clare will be at in the coming months:

It's gonna be hard work x

Monday, 22 August 2011

Selvedge Autumn Fair

My friend Ellie Evans is selling her work at The Selvedge Autumn Fair this year. When she's not working with me, she's sewing and cross-stitching pin cushions, hanging pockets and all manner of other lovely things out of all the fabrics she's been hording in her studio :) Very tempted to go!! It's relatively cheap to get in, the first 300 people get given an awsome goodie bag APPARENTLY and if everythings as good as Miss Evans's work then it'll definitely be worth a look. Bigging you up big time Ellie! Haha x

Landaan 19.08.11 - 20.08.11

So I had a great weekend away in London :) I got to The Vorticists exhibition at the Tate Britain which was fantastic - so much so that I bought a rather expensive exhib catalogue for £20 just so I could get copies of all my favourite pieces :) And I also got to the Print and Design NOW show which hence the name was a space full of flat prints on the walls, many of which I thought were okay but not amazing.BUUUTT, I did discover a few gems of work which I've thankfully been able to track back to their artists on one very handy bearspace catalogue online :)


They have photos of all the print work on the website but I'm popping my own photos of my favourites on instead because my camera has (hehe) picked up the colours better than theirs did!!

Ian Chamberlain - visited the BT Goonhilly Satellite Space Station where over 60 giant satellite dishes are busy sending and receiving TV pictures all over the world, while simultaneously handling thousands of international phone, fax, data and video calls. The prints he showed at the SW1 gallery were all etchings :)


Dawn Cole: has a fab website where she's got images of quite a few of her prints like these. I'm not really keen on the rest of the work she has done, it's much less colourful and although I generally love bold and simplified, it's this more detailed work that I like the best. These two photos are mine taken at the exhibition and the third is my favourite of her experiements from her website :)

Slipovers and Pullovers, Solar Plate etch, 2010

Want to be in her good books, Solar plate etch, 2010

Our cover model, Solar plate etch, 2010
Dawn is based in Birchington on the North Kent coast and works primarily in print. 'Dawn creates thought provoking works which are, at first glance, not always what they seem'. These prints are from her collection Knit 1 Purl 1 and I've not really figured the concept but I like the way she has used fragments of photographic imagery and then repeated them radially to create the doily lace-like prints. From a distance they appear to just be a geometric pattern but on closer inspection you then start to see glimpses of recognisable features; faces, hats, clothing.

Most of  Dawn's images have radial symmetry.
Other objects that have radial symmetry: Spirograph, Snowflakes, Starfish (pentamerism), Jellyfish (tetramerism), Corals (hexamerism and octamerism), fruit -  it basically pops up a lot in BIOLOGY and MATHS :) Plates!! Anything loosely bottle shaped or cylindrical from above :)

Two other artists that spring to mind that also work with radial symmetry are body jewellery maker Nora Fok and Natalie Langley - a Notts Trent graduate this year who works illustratively :)

Natalie Langley - 'inspiration is gathered from studies of practical objects, of which the aesthetics are regularly overlooked.'

Nora Fok's beautiful 'Mathermagic' (2005) wristpiece :)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

I'm going to Laaaandon to buy a.....ticket for The Tate Britain exhibition..? :)

I'm going to an exhibition called The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World at the Tate Britain. The artists of this movement which started in around 1914 use lots of block shapes and angles and bright bold colours that appeal to me when I have seen them at other exhibitions so I'm going to have a look.

It finishes on the 4 Sept for anyone who wants to go :)
Trying to find out what else I can go and see while I'm down in London and have come across a fab looking exhibition at V&A but it starts after I go..just my luck. Its called Post-modernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 and looks amazing!


Grace Jones in a maternity dress designed by Jean-Paul Goude and Antonio Lopez 1979
It starts on the 24th September - 15th January :)

Print and Design Now!! 2011
12 Cardinal Walk, Roof Garden Level, Cardinal Place, London
Lots of graduate and young upcoming designer work :)

Tracey Emin: Love is what you want
Hayward Gallery
til' 29th August

Thomas Struth
Whitechapel Gallery
til' 16th September

Tate Modern
til' 11th Sept

Here's a link to a great video about Joan Miro :)

If I've got time, I think I'll go to Miro, The Vorticists and either Thomas Struth or Print and Design Now...depending on which is easier to reach. I'm not always sure about Tracey Emin's work, it's good but very personal to her, so I can learn less from her stuff I guess.

Just found a Louise Gardiner exhibition at Quarry Bank MIll in Styal (til' 11th September) which is right near my grammas house so I'll go and explore that next weekend :) She mainly focuses on embroidery on canvases to create these stitched illustrations. I like her work because she uses unusual colour ways including neons :) I'll post some photos up if I can x

Excited :)

The Magic Stitchery Witchery Wand of Louise Gardinelly: Exhibition in Styal

The Magic Stitchery Witchery Wand of Louise Gardinelly: Exhibition in Styal: Please email me if you would like to go on my Mailing List for this and other exhibitions.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Janet Echelman

Stumbled across this US artist on Lizania Cruz's blog which I follow and Janet Echelman's work blew me away so I went to have a peruse of her website myself :) These are a few of my favourite in her portfolio.

1.26, 2010
 Echelman generally works with polyester or other high tenacity -
  1. The quality of bodies which keeps them from parting without considerable force; cohesiveness;
  2. The quality of bodies which makes them adhere to other bodies; adhesiveness
 - fibers with gravity and tension to create her suspended sculptures. Mostly she'll create a steel skeleton on which she can then work her fibers. This piece above apparently uses a material called Spectra fiber instead which is 15 times stronger than steel by weight but is really lightweight and low impact so she can temporarily attach her work to buildings in the 'urban airspace' without too many raised eyebrows.

She Changes, 2005

Her Secret is Patience, 2009

She Changes, 2005

Her Secret is Patience, 2009

I was wondering if Echelman uses fibres that illuminate themselves..like optical fibres..but I think that because her work generally features in urban spaces, she can position coloured lighting on the tops of the buildings that surround the sculpture so the colours of the fibres she uses are exaggerated at night. Much cheaper option I suspect :)

Target swooping down...bullseye!, Madrid, Spain, 2001

What I love about Janet Echelman's work is the vibrancy of her colours and how her sculptures seem so fluid and tactile. She has not just thought how it looks as a 3D object but also very carefully and skillfully how it will work in space. Both her colour palette and fluid shapes contrast really well with the dull/cold geometric repeated cityscape surrounding her work. She's transforming the urban space which is seen everyday but goes unnoticed by the public into this out there 'something you'd find in Space if you ever got to go' experience.
I like the way that she is using multiples of fibres (or paralell lines) to create a surface that can be seen through so that from different angles new shapes are seen as these fibres overlap..accidental shapes like a Venn Diagram :)
I'd like to see one in the flesh. I've always been drawn to sculptures and objects which are suspended, I find them calming as if they're floating and could be taken up by the wind at any moment. They also appeal to me because you can almost see and feel gravity; the force which is holding them down. In Echelman's case, her sculptures are held in place by gravity AND tension, so I bet they keep weirdly still, like they've been captured in a photograph. Deep stuff  :) x

Monday, 15 August 2011

Working with Clare Gage: Day One

Clare Gage graduated from Cumbria Institute of Arts with a degree in Contemporary Crafts in 2007 and was in the same year awarded the 2007 Design Directions: Ceramic Futures Award, providing her with funding from the Arts Council to set up her very own studio in my hometown Chesterfield. I have been lucky enough to be allowed to help out over the next few weeks and have already gained a good sneak peek into the unknown world of ceramics!!

During her course, she had the opportunity to study electives in constructed textiles (weaving, knitting etc), printed textiles, embroidery and ceramics as well as choosing to study silversmithing as an evening class. She specialised in Ceramics and Constructed textiles as she felt these would allow her to make full use of the equipment the University was providing her. Good value for money and I suspect these were the areas she was the best at :)

 Her work is mainly porcelain and she knits and weaves these cute little cup, bowl, vase shapes with buttons and the lacy bits in textile which are then used the create casts (by a company in Stoke) which she can then used to pour porcelain slip into. (slip is runny clay but with a chemical added to make the clay more dense when it drys out)

Her are some photos of her products and a link to her website:


Panel cup - each of the little stitches are added on by hand after the cups have been cast.

This one is my favourite :)


First things first she shows me how to slip cast. The slip is already gloopy but needs to be mixed through so is mixed in a kind of food processor for clay. Clare sticks her hands straight in there...ewww...its then tapped out into her jug. She has a casting table with about 12 cast blocks on..each is made up of three sections..two sides and a base. She's even got one of her originals that she made at university..all bobbly and uneven and crusty but authentic. Clare times herself for efficiency and apparently she can pour a cast every 30seconds. Pretty efficient :) The slip absorbs slightly into the edges of the cast so after about six minutes claire pours the excess back into the blender leaving about a centimeter of clay in the cast and hence a hollow cup shape pops out the next day with the textures she's made on the outside :)

10minutes and she's cast 12 cups!

Clare also shows me the kiln which gets up to 1060 degrees. Everything is fired twice..I can't quite remember but I think the first fire is called bisque firing and hardens the clay so its much less fragile..her glazes are then added and the the pots are put in for a final fire. She shows me three of the same product at each the stages and after each fire, the piece gets smaller and smaller. Apparently clay shrinks but porcelain clay even more so. The rest of the mornignwe spend cleaning the studio because the dust from the clay gradually builds up and up and its not so great for the lungs :)

The afternoon brings exciting jobs and I'm let loose on creating her porcelain christmas decorations :) Clare says she is just getting into the busier months now because businesses generally have much less money to spend in the summer but also spend these months  seeing what the demand in the market is so come christmas they know exactly what and how many they want. Her orders will generally all come at once come September and November so August is really where she needs to get her product numbers up.

Feedback she has recieved is that her products are too expensive. Both Clare and I think that the prices she sells for are reasonable because all her work is handmade but she points out that only about 5% of the mass market actually appreciate this fact. The other 95% don't really care.

She explains that she has three avenues of buyers..wholesale buyers..which will boost her exposure in the market by taking her work to the shows (free) and giving her customer feedback. She does however compromise the amount of money she makes because there are many more people who take a cut from her work before the public can buy it. I think it was something like a £30 cup would only make her £6 if sold through the wholesaler. (Shrewty)
Then there are retail buyers so she acts as the wholesaler..only the shop takes a cut before the customer can buy a cup so she would make £16 instead of £30. Much better for her but exposure is more limited to areas local to the shop she stocks.
And then she has public buyers which are who she wants to attract the most. These are the customers who buy straight from her- the maker. They can buy online through her website or through the Created gallery which her family own and she would then recieve the full £30 for one of her cups. The only drawback is that customers have to travel all the way to Chesterfield and it takes a long time for her to recieve enough exposure for her name to be searched for online by enough people.

The porcelain I use needs to be kneaded first to get rid of air bubbles and then I roll it out between two wooden rules which act as tracks so the thickness of the clay doesnt get any thinner then about 1cm. I then have to peel the clay up and transfer it onto a textured casting block without cracking the clay. Its frustratingly difficult when you start reusing the excess clay. I push the clay down a bit with my hand and then give it a few rolls to add the texture. Peel back and then use cooking cutters to create hearts and stars and all manner of cute shapes. Simple and fun and with a red ribbon looped though they look very beautiful :)

End up covered in clay dust by the end of the day but it was very good fun. Got to wait a whole week to learn more.