Introducing Crafting Connections

Dr Lauren Baker introduces Crafting Connections!

Crafting Connections is a brand-new workshop programme launching this Spring, created especially for craftspeople and designer makers. The workshops are intended to help you uncover the innovative potential of your business using exploratory making, applying your creative and making skills to think through your past experiences as a business and try out new ideas. Together, we will build a picture of the craft and design sector as it exists now, and imagine what it could be like in the future. The aim is to build new connections with others working in the region, useful resources, and consider developing new products or ways of working that enhance the craft and design sector in the North East.

Why are we hosting this workshop programme?

Craft skills and businesses have been growing in strength in recent years, especially as we all try to shop local, support small business and economy, and encourage more ethical forms of production. We’re focussing on craft and designer makers because, despite this newfound popularity, a lot of the designer makers we speak to tell us they find it hard to build their networks, balance business practices with their creative practices, and find time to make plans for their future. By dedicating one morning a week to exploring these issues and more, we want to start a conversation about what the future of craft and making looks like for North East businesses. Our hope is that you will leave the workshop programme with lots of new connections with other makers in the region, have some ideas to move your own business and the craft sector forward, and tools for making your new ideas a reality.

Who is running the programme?

The Crafting Connections programme is spearheaded by our Innovation and Research Assistant Lauren Baker. Lauren originally trained in surface pattern for textile design, before going on to work in commercial galleries in the North East where she specialised in supporting craftspeople and designers. She has recently completed her doctoral research into the development of craft business identities, where she worked with Scottish craftspeople to understand how they use programmes of support to develop their enterprise. Alongside this, Lauren also has her own ceramics practice, and she leads hand-building ceramics workshops for beginners at a local pottery. All of this work fuels Lauren’s passion and love for the creative sector in the North East. Alongside Lauren, each session will be co-hosted by craftspeople, creative professionals, and academics who will share their own unique experiences with you.

How does it work?

Crafting Connections consists of 4 workshops, each lasting approximately 3 hours. During these workshops you’ll be introduced to other makers, helpful resources, and useful tools to think about your business now, and where you want to be in the future. Rather than getting you to write all these ideas down or listen to presentations, we’ll be using exploratory, low-tech, mindful making to think through our ideas or intuitions. This will be a talking point for the group, as we share experiences, concerns, and hopes for the future, and come up with new ideas together. You’ll be supported by other locally based practitioners, who can offer insight and advice.

Where will the workshops be hosted?

A vital part of Crafting Connections is the role of place, and the effect this has on who we meet, what we do, and how we work. To reflect this, we are hosting atleast two of the four workshops in-person. This includes The Shipley Gallery in Gateshead, and the FabLab at Hope Street Exchange, Sunderland University. The hope is that this can enrich your connections to the craft networks in the North East and beyond.

When is it?

The workshops will take place through out May, with an introductory welcome session at the end of April. We can’t wait to meet you and get making!

Introduction Session: Held over Zoom – Wednesday April 27th 2022, 10am-12pm

Workshop 1: The Shipley Gallery, Gateshead – Wednesday May 4th 2022, 10am-1pm

Workshop 2: Hope Street Exchange, University of Sunderland – Wednesday May 11th 2022, 10am-1pm

Workshop 3: Held over Zoom – Wednesday May 18th 2022, 10am-1pm

Workshop 4: Location TBC – Wednesday May 25th 2022, 10am-1pm

Sign up to Crafting Connections here!