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[PAGEBREAK]My creative passion
Ever wondered if you could turn a passion into a career? Caroline Rees talks to three women who have turned their arts and crafts hobbies into real work
Read about theseinspirational women, who have turned their hobbies into their careers and getmotivated into action!
Katrin Moye, 38, runs her own ceramics business in Nottingham, where she lives with her husband Rob and their two children, Ewan, nine, and Finley, five.
Old job:Bookshop fiction buyer
Start up costs:£5,000
This year’s earnings:£12,000
“I enjoyed my job at Waterstone’s bookshop, but I’d been doingpottery as a hobbyfor years. When I went on maternity leave, I started aBTEC ceramics courseand that fired me up.
When we moved back to Nottingham in 2000, I went back to work part-time at Waterstone’s. Weset up a studio at homein a big outbuilding with akiln and a wheeland Iborrowed £1,000from my parents to get it set up.
I sold all my first pieces to friends and work contacts at Christmas 2003, whichboosted my confidence. Orders from friends of friends snowballed and I’d fulfill those while Finley had an afternoon nap. When he stopped having a nap, I didn’t have time.So I left worktwo years ago and did two days a week in the studio.
My experience ofmarketing and eventsat the shop was invaluable because I knew how topromote myself. I got agrantfrom the East Midlands Arts Council to getprofessional photostaken, then I did a mail-out to 15 galleries – and about half placed orders.
I wasunder-confidentto start with, but that changed when I got into shows. At theTop Drawer Trade Fairin January 2006I got enough orders for the whole year. One lady placed one for 60 pieces. I kissed her!
Last year I applied for Origin: The London Craft Fair, but didn’t get in. That prompted me to put together acoherent collection. It’sdecorative domestic slipwareon the theme of family history. I started shaking when I got in this year as it’s the Crafts Council’s showcase event.
I’ve gottwo part-timers working with menow, which is great, as I was starting to get lonely.I feel a bit guiltyabout not giving my children enough time, but thejob satisfactionjust doesn’t compare with before. I feelproudthat I’ve done it without any formal training.”
My best move:Joining the Design Factory – they took me to the Top Drawer Trade Fair, which started me off with large orders.
My worst mistake:Promising somebody 35 pieces for last Christmas and not delivering them until December 23. They were not happy. I took too much on and should have kept them informed in advance.
Top tip:Be aware of what you can do to make your work better and keep looking for new ways to develop it. I always listen carefully to comments from the public who speak to me at shows.
Katrin will have a stand at Origin: The London Craft Fair, which takes place at Somerset House, WC2, from October 2 to 14. Tickets, £7. Call (020) 7845 4600.
[PAGEBREAK]The Glass Designer
Amanda Simmons, 36, designs pretty kiln-formed glass at her home in Corsock, Dumfries and Galloway, which she shares with her husband Dan.
Old job:Clinical technician.
New job:Glass designer.
Start up costs:£10,000.
This year’s earnings:£20,000.
“Being a glass designer is therealisation of a dream. I’d done an art foundation course, but I didn’t have the confidence to be an artist and thought I’d earn more as a scientist.
By the time I turned 30, I had becomehooked on glassand swapped full-time NHS work for part-time agency work. It paid well, which enabled me to do apostgraduate certificatein glass and architecture at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design two days a week. I was thrilled to get a distinction, whichvalidated what I finally wanted to dowith my life.
I bought a kiln and started off in my mum’s garage. Unfortunately, every time the power surge went on, her neighbour’s lights flashed! I became a full-time glass maker when we moved to Scotland in 2005.Our downstairs is a gallery spaceand I work in a double garage-sized tin shed, which I’m renovating myself.
Public work brings in the most moneyand I’m just finishing my very first public commission, which is a large Perspex sculpture for a regeneration project in Sheffield.
I fell back quite hard on my savingsat first because I wasn’t selling enough. But the work is beginning to beprofitablenow. Being in Scotland is completely inspiring my work. I’m in the studio seven days a week if I can get away with it.”
My best move:Moving to Scotland. There were too many people in London trying to do the same thing.
My worst mistake:I said yes to more exhibitions than I could really handle when I moved up here.
Top tip:If everything’s going wrong in the studio, step away. I take the dog for an hour’s walk and the problems are almost forgotten. I also have a punch-bag in the studio!
For more details, call 05601-470120
Jan Garside, 59, produces woven art textiles and lives in Nottinghamshire. She and her husband David have two grown-up children, Ben, 31, and Tiffany, 29.
Start up costs:£7,000
This year’s earnings:£5,000
“I really enjoyed being a midwife, butI’d always had an underlying interest in the arts. I’d been going toevening classes, but was looking for something more serious, so I did anAccess to Higher Education coursein art and design at North Nottinghamshire College in 1998. I still had to work four days, so they allowed me to fit it in around my shifts.
Starting a degree was abit of a gamblebecause I wasn’t sure how I could afford it, but my tutor encouraged me. I applied to Loughborough University and was accepted. I used to drive there five days a week, then be at the hospital at weekends. I often had towork all nightto catch up with course work. I took out a student loan and the fact that my husband had a decent job helped.
Going to university at 50 was brilliant. The younger students treated me as though I was their age and used to take me out clubbing. I met friends on the course who specialised in weaving and they persuaded me to take it up.
When I finished my degree in 2002, I waschosen to go to New Designers, a big show in London. I went to a talk there by the Crafts Council about an award scheme calledNext Move. I applied and was offered a place at Manchester Metropolitan University. I had free studio space for two years, plus a maintenance grant.That’s when I gave up midwifery.
When I came home from Manchester, I couldn’t afford a studio, soI converted a room in the house. The regional Arts Council also awarded me money to buy a loom.
My textiles are bespoke wall-hangingsand my clients are mostly private buyers. Commissions start at £900, so I don’t sell a lot but, when I do, it’s so worthwhile.My biggest thrillwas selling a piece to West Dean College this year – my first public commission. I’m not earning a huge amount; without my husband’s income, I would probably need a part-time job too.I know self-employment is hard work, but it’s so exciting.”
My best move:Applying to the Crafts Council’s Next Move scheme, which provided access to equipment and training for two years.
My worst mistake:Not changing my career sooner. There’s so much I want to do and sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t have enough time and energy.
Top tip:Don’t be afraid of trying something new. Embrace it if you think it will work for you.
For more details, call 01777-838791
Help for turning your creative passion into a career
*The Crafts Councilis the leading body in the UK and has several awards schemes. Call (020) 7806 2501
* In Scotland, tryCraft Scotland: 0131-4476575
*The Design Trusthas published a business start-up guide, available to order on (020) 7320 2895
* Craft-making can be lonely work, so join the relevant guild or association.
* Advice and grants are available from regional arts councils.
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