500 Handmade Dolls: Modern Explorations of the Human Form
“Contemporary and unique, these handmade creations range from representational to abstract, from skillful realism to provocative surrealism—and they’re made from every conceivable material, including beads, gourds, and polymer clay. Juror Akira Blount, a pioneer in the “art doll” movement, incorporates vines, twigs, and carved wood in her fabric dolls; with their expressionless faces and closed eyes, they appear absorbed by inner worlds. Dutch artist Marlaine Verhelst’s porcelain designs seem to have sprung straight from a medieval painting. Chris Chomick’s strange and slightly scary figures feature amazing detail and elaborate costumes. Dollmakers, crafters, collectors, and anyone who loves beautiful objects will love the amazing diversity showcased here.” → more info
Please welcome our newest columnist, Ellie Thouret! “Ellie is a UK-based designer of handknit and crocheted accessories. In her rare time away from the needles and hooks, she can be found scouring Etsy and Folksy for cute and quirky handmade items.” She’s going to be covering the area that is her neck of the woods: England! Leave her a comment below if you have any great suggestions for her or if you just want to welcome her :)
This is my very first post for my new column, Handmade in England. I hope you’ll all enjoy reading about the UK handmade scene. I’m looking forward to showcasing the best handmade products and crafters that we have to offer! In this post I will be profiling the Manchester Craft & Design Centre (MCAD), a fantastic studio/retail space right here in my city.
MCAD was established in 1982, originally known as Manchester Craft Village. Situated in a historic fish and poultry market, the Centre was set up to help kick-start the regeneration of the Northern Quarter, a now-trendy area filled with independent boutiques and bars. It houses 18 studios with around 35 makers/designers, a cafe and a small exhibition space.
“We aim to be the place to make, see and buy contemporary craft and design in the North West,” explains Kate Day, Director at MCAD. “MCAD offers a supportive working environment with affordable rents for city center retail/studio space. We provide a signposting service for our tenants to business development agencies such as Business Link, funding opportunities, awards, commissions and exhibiting opportunities.”
The goods on offer at MCAD vary, from jewelry to handbags, art to ceramics, and the Centre is usually buzzing on weekends. The light and spacious design welcomes visitors and the beautiful items are displayed extremely attractively. But for the artists based at MCAD, it is the business support that they really value.
“MCAD promotes the Centre and studios with ongoing marketing activity including our website, monthly e-flyers, promotional activities and partnerships with organizations such as the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair,” comments Kate. “We also curate a national/international exhibition program with regular events and workshops.”
Colette Hazelwood, a designer/maker of contemporary jewelry, who has been based at MCAD for over 10 years, since graduating university in 1999. “Being at MCAD has undoubtedly helped me in my business, not so much directly – but indirectly. It has allowed me to come face to face with my customer, not only is this good for me but it’s great for them to get to know me and judge whether they can trust me with their great grandmother’s diamond and platinum ring!”
Jane Dzisiewski and Stephanie Brown are part of Designers Eclectic, a collective of jewelers based at MCAD since September 2009. “Some people would say it was either brave or insane to start up a business in the middle of a recession but MCAD has enabled us to do this,” Jane explains. “MCAD provides low cost studios in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. We couldn’t have got studio/retail premises in the center of town otherwise.
Stephanie continues, “The Craft Centre is an invaluable creative platform to launch and grow a business and is a fabulous creative community to work in and be a part of. All the tenants are emailed regular updates on creative opportunities, awards and commissions from the office.
The tenants are encouraged to initiate ideas to promote their own studios and the centre. They have varied backgrounds and contribute their expertise to the Centre when and where they can.”
Suzanne Devine, handbag and accessory designer/maker, finds the mutual support among MCAD artists particularly valuable: “I have been at the Craft and Design Centre for 6 years now and it has been a big part in this learning process and a great experience having friends who are in the same situation as me – some with more experience, some now with less experience and also the advice and support that we pass around to each other.”
Demand for studio space at MCAD is growing, a reflection of the increase in crafters in the North West UK. “Courses such as Manchester Metropolitan University‘s Creative Business Development help to prepare new graduates with entrepreneurial skills, and we’ve also noticed an increase in people establishing craft / design businesses as a second career,” says Kate.
MCAD will hold a new exhibition, Threadbare, in July. The launch event takes place on Saturday July 3, all are welcome. Please visit the MCAD website to sign up for the Centre’s monthly e-flyer. For more information on MCAD, visit the Centre’s website, Facebook Page and Twitter feed.
*MCAD photo credit Ed Chadwick.
Last week I talked with Eloise of HidenSeek who found herself in the unfortunate position of having one of her designs copied by a large retailer. My post certainly captured your interest, and I found that a lot of you are concerned about finding yourselves in the same situation as Eloise, Gemma Correll and Laura of SheDraws. This week I share some of Eloise’s tips for handling suspected infringement.
1. Protect your work from direct duplication
If possible, watermark photos and images in your online shops. While this may not completely deter copyright infringement, it means that any images taken directly from your shops will be easily identified as yours. “I started putting a watermark on the images in my shop very early as a first step,” says Eloise. “I understood back then too that it is pretty impossible to protect your work from copying. The watermark for me is just a sign to big companies that you are willing to protect your intellectual property and of course they become unable to use the ‘I didn’t know it was copyrighted’ defence.”
2. Gather support from other artisans
As I learned from your comments last week, infringement is a huge worry for a lot of indie designers. There are numerous communities and even a Facebook group dedicated to identifying and stopping copyright theft. “The support that was offered to me so freely and the abundant kindness shown by thousands of people back then, still fills me with the warmest emotions whenever I think about it. I learned that people are willing to put themselves on the line for a perfect stranger that has been wronged and that when we the little people band together we make an unstoppable force.”
3. If you suspect infringement, contact the individual or company immediately
“When you are dealing with individuals…let them know of the problem and seek for a calm and quick solution, they will probably want to avoid any stress and trouble, just as much as you. If they show great resistance or indifference to your plea, you could treat them as a company. Companies will seldom reply to your personal plea. You should still immediately let them know of the problem and be very diplomatic about it, so no rough accusations, just ask for an amicable solution.”
4. Don’t back down…but keep your cool
If calm communication doesn’t work, don’t feel defeated. “Feel free to make your problem public and find any way to apply pressure to them. You could send them a proper bill for your services that they so conveniently appropriated or you could take them to a small claims court (that’s what it’s called in the UK at least and you don’t need a solicitor for the procedure). I wouldn’t suggest you go for a proper court case unless you are rich or can find a no-win no-fee lawyer. Even then, expect an excruciating few months, legal proceedings are a very tiring and dirty business.”
5. Don’t let fear of infringement ruin your passion
Particularly when you’re feeling powerless, it’s easy to think ‘It’s not worth it’ and call it a day with crafting – but don’t! “All in all, you can’t do much to protect your work, other than lock it in a box and never open it again. Since you are going to show your art to the world, might as well go all the way! The more your art is seen, the easier it will be to defend yourself if the unfortunate happens. The fact that everyone could see I had sold the specific artwork on Etsy months before Paperchase produced their own copy, made it very clear in everyone’s eyes that I was the one being copied.”
Have you got questions or simply want to share your experience? Post in the comments section below!
One-of-a-Kind Handmade Weddings: Easy-to-Make Projects for Stylish, Unforgettable Details
“One-of-a Kind Handmade Weddings is filled with ideas to inspire today’s bride-to-be. The book is filled with extra-special touches that will quickly and easily personalize any event—whether it’s in a ballroom or at the beach. Centerpieces in bloom, candlelit walkways, perfect accessories for flower girls and groom, a memory scrapbook, table lanterns, a fishbowl of wishes, and save-the-dates—these are just a few of the many decorative details. There are a wide range of projects and additional design ideas for the planning, ceremony, and celebration. Readers can choose from among the easy step-by-step projects—or look for inspiration in the photo gallery of design ideas to create their own signature style.” → more info
Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design
“Today’s crafters are no longer interested in simply cross-stitching samplers or painting floral scrolls on china. Instead, the contemporary craft movement embraces emerging artists, crafters, and designers working in traditional and nontraditional media. Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching has revolutionized the embroidery industry. Each year Nikki McClure sells thousands of her cut-paper wall calendars. Emily Kircher recycles vintage materials into purses. Stephanie Syjuco manufactures clothing under the tag line “Because Sweatshops Suck.” These are just some of the fascinating makers united in the new wave of craft capturing the attention of the nation, the Handmade Nation.
Faythe Levine traveled 19,000 miles to document what has emerged as a marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos. For Handmade Nation (along with the documentary film of the same name, coming in 2009) she and Cortney Heimerl have selected 24 makers and 5 essayists who work within different media and have different methodologies to provide a microcosm of the crafting community. Participants in this community share ideas and encouragement through websites, blogs, boutiques, galleries, and craft fairs. Together they have forged a new economy and lifestyle based on creativity, determination, and networking. Twenty-four artists from Olympia, Washington, to Providence, Rhode Island, and everywhere in between show their work and discuss their lives. Texts by Andrew Wagner of American Craft Magazine, Garth Johnson of Extremecraft.com, Callie Janoff of the Church of Craft, Betsy Greer of Craftivism.com, and Susan Beal, author of Super Crafty, supply a critical view of the tight-knit community where ethics can overlap with creativity and art with community. Handmade Nation features photographs of the makers, their work environment, their process, their work, and discussions of how they got their start and what motivates them. Handmade Nation is a fascinating book for those who are a part of the emerging movement or just interested in sampling its wares.” → more info