Sourcing Craft is an Art

 Kate Coker

Kate Coker

Crafted for Christmas is our annual festive exhibition that takes over our shop and gallery and even our onsite makers’ studios. Crafted for Christmas offers visitors the chance to acquire something truly unique and special, either as gift or for the home; it’s a visual feast for the eyes.

This exhibition is where we support and showcase many more British makers, designers and craftspeople than we usually have space for; while we usually have work by 150-200 makers in our craft shop, for Crafted for Christmas, this increases to almost 400.

Supporting craftspeople is one of our most important charitable aims. Every purchase made in our shop, gallery or online directly supports not only the craftsperson or maker, but it also helps New Brewery Arts to support the wider craft ecology through talent development and other professional opportunities for makers.

We are passionate about hand-crafted objects - they have a special meaning and, as you live with them and use them, you learn about the piece; how they were made, about the material, about the inspiration behind them. While we encourage people to have a go with crafts through our courses and workshops, some people prefer to experience craft through living alongside handmade objects rather than making them.  

We have an amazing variety of pieces included in Crafted for Christmas this year; ceramics (both decorative and functional), glass (blown and fused), metal (forged and sculpted), textiles (wearable and domestic), wood, prints, and a wide selection of jewellery in a variety of materials (silver, gold, bronze, acrylic, copper, titanium, glass and others), we also have craft kits to give people an opportunity to have a go themselves.

We’re always on the lookout for amazing work to sell in our shop. But for Crafted for Christmas we start sourcing work in January, 10 months in advance of the start of the show. We look for British made, high-quality work, and we are invariably interested in the story behind the piece and the craftsperson who made it.

 Selbourne Pottery

Selbourne Pottery

We attend trade shows such as the British Craft Trade Fair (Harrogate), visit craft shows such as Contemporary Craft Fair in Bovey Tracey, see makers in their studios, view university shows and regularly visit other galleries and exhibitions.

It’s really important to us that we talk to designers and makers. Some makers contact us to tell us about their work, but principally we source by getting out and about, allowing us to keep a strong eye on mainstream trends, so we know what’s happening generally in the retail industry as well as in the craft sector.

Whenever we choose to take work by a maker or craftsperson we discuss selling prices with them. There’s always a dialogue about how much they need to make for their practice to be sustainable, and how much we need to cover our costs and to give to our charitable work. It’s clear that with online shopping people can choose to shop online elsewhere, or even buy direct from the maker, but we always make sure the price we sell for is the same as that you would pay if were buying directly from the maker; there is always parity of price.

 Takahashi McGil

Takahashi McGil

So, when you buy a piece at New Brewery Arts not only are you buying work at a price that supports the maker, but you are also contributing to us as a charity. There aren’t many places where purchasing something handmade can have such a beneficial impact.

We love sourcing work for Crafted for Christmas, and we really hope that people appreciate the quality and love that goes in to each unique piece. I also hope that people see that buying from us contributes to the wider craft sector, and supports New Brewery Arts, makers, designers and craftspeople. More than anything else I would say buy what you love, and buy handmade!

Crafted for Christmas
27 October - 31 December
Mon-Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 10am-4pm

Unwinding at our Summer School

Our course and workshop programmes continues to thrive and develop as people look to crafts to unwind, but this August was the first time we had organised a group of workshops which really allowed the participants to develop their skills over 2 or 3 days. During the two week Summer School fifty students, many of them first time visitors to New Brewery Arts, took part in a diverse selection of crafts with tutors who are highly experienced and established in their field.

The programme had something for everyone; some students were determined to develop their skills in a particular workshop, for others it was an opportunity to enjoy a stay in the Cotswolds, learn a new skill, meet new friends and appreciate some time away from the pressures of work.

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Our students on Wood Engraving with Peter Brown enjoyed the fine detail of this craft; the results were wonderful and a testament to the tutor and the level of concentration needed over the two days.

I tried my hand at engraving many years ago, with no guidance, and put it to one side after (at best!) mixed results. I therefore came to the course not as a complete beginner, with a range of problems I had encountered, and a realisation that there would be all kinds of things I had never even considered. I think Peter provided me with what I needed to approach all these hurdles, and much besides. I left feeling all I now needed was a decent roller, some suitable paper and practice, practice, practice.

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Textile Print Stories with Dawn Dupree explored colours, textures and printed design on fabric and the results were expressive, colourful and imaginative. The students explored open screen printing techniques with the heat press, foiling and dyes over the three days , drawing inspiration from the landscape and found objects and images. Dawn is a renowned Textile artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally over the past 20 year and it was a pleasure to watch her inspire students and see the results of their experimentation with dyes.

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Letter carving and Calligraphy goes hand in hand and we were very happy to welcome Tom Perkins and Gaynor Goffe back to us for the Summer School. Both are experts in their field and students came from all over the UK to take part in their masterclasses and to develop their skills with such experienced tutors.

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We were so happy to have Dorothy Reglar (one of our resident makers) deliver a Smocking Workshop for us. Smocking is a traditional craft that is rarely seen in contemporary garments and it was wonderful to see both traditional and contemporary examples in smocks and to watch the students learn this craft and - with Dorothy’s help - produce beautiful samples over the two days which I am sure they will continue to work on at home.

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Dinny Pocock’s Needlefelt a Bear workshop was a huge success with students producing bears all with their own characters and poses. Dinny says of her work:

The process of creating an animal out of a wilful bundle of wool or deadweight of clay seems to me fascinating and absurd in equal measure. I like to capture the moment of stillness between movements, the moment when something extraordinary might happen.

It’s no wonder that this workshop booked up so quickly, so next summer book early!

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It was the first time we had run a precious metal clay workshop with Amy Surman and this proved to be popular and enjoyable and we have already put more into the timetable for the Autumn. Amy’s running another of these workshops on 29th September if you think it’s something that might interest you.

Amy was an excellent teacher, giving clear instructions and useful demonstrations, and allowing us lots of time to produce our own work - a very good balance between instruction and hands-on experience. It was a lively group of people with varied experience, so while we worked hard over the duration of the workshop, there was lots of chat and laughter.

The three day Acrylics Masterclass had to be re structured at the last minute due to ill health, but we managed to secure three wonderful tutors, each with their own style and expertise; the students explored seascapes, still life and trees over the three days.  Our thanks to DJ for inspiring seascapes, Dan McDermott for still life insights and Fiona McIntyre for her masterclass on trees and landscape.

It is always wonderful to see people engaged in craft and during this Summer school the students had time to meet new friends, discover talents and learn new skills which I am sure they will continue to develop until next year …

New Brewery Arts is a great place to learn and has a really positive atmosphere.

Excellent teaching, learning new skills and processes, working alongside other artists and seeing their work.

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Raw Talent

It’s all very well going to an exhibition and admiring what is on show - or maybe thinking ‘my five year old could do better than that’.And it’s fine to be an observer and learner about craft, appreciating the skill and imagination that goes into creating works of art and craft. But it’s quite another to be inspired to think ‘well, i might try that’ 

The Textiles of Lucienne Day by Jan Miller

The Textiles of Lucienne Day by Jan Miller

For the past six months I've been working on a project with Beth Alden (CEO at New Brewery Arts), and have been hearing advance snippets about the New Brewery Arts' programming calendar. So I'd been looking forward to visiting Lucienne Day: Living Design for quite some time. It was a curious experience. There was joyous familiarity to some of the exhibits, whilst also so much more to explore and learn about the artist.

A visit to see an old friend - Julie Cope

It was a great privilege to present the two Julie Cope tapestries by Grayson Perry at New Brewery Arts in 2017. As the curator I had time in the gallery when it was just me and the work, a very private experience, and one that at the time I didn’t ever think I’d ever have the chance to repeat. However, in November I opened an email telling me my name had come out of the draw for a stay in Grayson Perry’s A House for Julie Cope house…

A Jewellery Buyer's Journey

A Jewellery Buyer's Journey

I work in the Craft Shop at New Brewery Arts and it’s my job to look after all our jewellers and their lovely jewellery. We try and go to as many craft fairs and trade shows around the country as is physically possible to source jewellery; we also have new jewellers approaching us directly as they have either visited us, or heard of us via the craft world grapevine and want to be a part of New Brewery Arts.