Thursday, 15 March 2012

Climate, Creations and Commerce

I suppose fashion is part of ‘manufacturing’  in the sense of creating economic benefits from creativity, but I must admit that mass-produced widgets and fashion design make uneasy bedfellows in my mind.  Creativity and ingenuity go into both in the initial stages, and in most cases mass production of an item is the result.  Thus perhaps I shouldn’t find it strange that the government-sponsored Make It In Great Britain campaign, which is out to encourage manufacturing-friendly attitudes  amongst the populous, has enlisted the likes of Doreen Adusei of Fashionworks ceramics and interiors designer (and highly successful businesswoman) Emma Bridgewater to its cause.  

Maybe it’s because I come at crafts from a very individual perspective: that of the ‘lone maker’.  Or perhaps it’s because the ‘products’ I’m involved in and value from others can only be produced by one pair of hands at a time.  Take the exciting and colourful work of expert potter Lesley McShea, who kindly showed our family some of the modes of expression achievable through her working medium recently.  We had a wonderful time exploring what’s within us when clay is in our hands, and getting an insight into the motions a craftsperson in a different discipline goes through before adding her own individuality to her work.   I love her combinations of animal prints and ancient artefact styling, with a colour palette that’s stunning to see close-up. 

The skills and individual creative spirit of people like Lesley McShea will no doubt be celebrated in Craft & Design Month in May, sponsored by Craft & Design magazine.  UK Handmade also makes a big contribution to getting many small businesses into shape to find and face their potential markets.  So much so, in fact, that Creative Director Karen Jinks has brought UK Handmade and its ‘Buy Handmade’ campaign under the umbrella of another initiative to encourage economic activity and entrepreneurship: the Get Britain Trading movement, launched by the Forum for Private Business. 

Many of us out there in small craft businesses are women, and for those of you who haven’t heard it yet I’d thoroughly recommend chasing down the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour special programme earlier this week on women in business/ It’s  thoroughly worth listening to if you can - even just for the mental pat on the back it provides for those of us working quietly away there! 

We should be more vocal when we get the opportunity, so hyped-up with all this positivity I couldn’t resist it when the Climate Week team put out a call for ‘sustainable outfits’ via their website.  Not sure what they will make of my mega-yarn overjacket entry on their Facebook page, but suffice to say, being possibly a little too sustainably ‘deep green’ it might not win the prize of fashion retailer-brand vouchers.  Here’s hoping whatever you create in the coming week will be an absolute prize to all those around you, as that’s what matters most.

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