The other day I was thinking about where creativity comes from and what makes some people naturals when it comes to making things with their hands. Having just got back from Made by Hand Cheltenham, where I was one of 100 lucky makers given the opportunity to show their work, the standard was quite astonishing. The best time at these events for me is first thing in the morning before the day gets going and people arrive. You can wander from stand to stand in the quiet as makers arrive with coffees and start to set up, looking closely at the work and considering the practice and skill and sheer imagination that has gone into such perfect pieces of hand-made joy. For anyone who hasn’t been to one of these events I urge you to go. You’ll never want to buy mass produced again and the pleasure of meeting and talking to makers, so happy to share their experience and skill, is such a privilege and the icing on the cake.
There is no doubt in my mind that some people just know what to do when they find their thing, be it clay or paint or glass, textiles, wood or jewellery … the list goes on. That’s not to say that hundreds of hours of practise haven’t gone into the work as these makers hone their skills, learn from their mistakes and perfect their craft, but if you are lucky enough to ‘find your thing’ it’s definitely a feeling that you have come home. I wonder if a leaning towards making in clay for example like I do could be carried in our DNA and passed down from generation to generation. There are no potters that I know of in my family but I like to think that perhaps some ancient ancestor of mine made pots in the way I make pots, with their hands and heart, pressing their fingers into the clay to form a vessel that can hold something beautiful or a simple treasure. And if so, perhaps the very first time I picked up the clay, which felt so familiar to me as soon as I touched it, their hands reached across the generations and took mine in theirs to show me what I already knew.