16 April 2018

British Craft Trade Fair


So long no blog! I’ve been meaning to write at least one post a month then March just went! April is already half way through, which means my first event of this year, British Craft Trade Fair (BCTF) has been and gone. Today I’d like to share a little about the show, especially since this was a trade show and wasn’t open to the general public.

If you have been reading my blog for a long time, you might remember that I attended this show in 2013 with a huge bump, expecting my daughter Sabrina. I was in a new comer stand and very nervous. (You can see more in this post)

But I must tell you, this time was worse. I was more nervous than the last time. Probably because I knew how tense this show can be, but more so because this was my first trade show for many years as I had a studio break in between, and also I am now full time self employed. I have not worked with galleries for years and worried how my new tableware would be perceived today.


PREPARATION
The major part of preparation is the stand display. Unlike other ceramic events, we are not there to sell individual items to the general public, but to present your sample work to professional buyers. Your work needs to be shown in the best possible way to stand out among more than 500 exhibitors.

Display is not my forte. I always admire other people’s stands for their professionalism and uniqueness. Still, you can learn and experience over time. So I have written some tips that I have learnt and hopefully you might find them useful, especially if you are a new maker.

MY 5 TIPS FOR PREPARATION
1. collect ideas
2. think about materials that flows with your work
3. think about wall space
4. think how you transport and store them after the show
5. plan time scale


COLLECT IDEAS
Display plan doesn’t come just over night, so you will need to develop over time. To help your ideas grow to exactly how you want, it is useful to collect ideas and visual examples. I did this using Pinterest and Instagram. Not necessarily from show display, but images of someone’s kitchen shelve, shop display and wall decoration can also be useful. The more you collect, you can narrow down your own idea. 

MATERIALS
For the main display materials, you may consider using your own furniture or buy a new product or even make your own plinths etc. Whatever you use, think about the materials that flow with your own work. They can be wood, glass, metals and steels… almost anything, but make sure the materials are harmonise with your work. 
In my case, I used wood. Tableware is based at home environment and I wanted to make it ‘warm’ ‘home-like’ setting, so I used an old table that I already have and built wooden shelves to go above it. 

WALL SPACE
Last time, I didn’t use the wall space effectively, so I have decided to provide panels myself this time. Panels are hung with metal brackets, which is much securer than using S hook. BCTF actually offers panels and shelves if you would like to pay, but this would be one off, so if you would like to keep your display kits for future, make your own.

handmade panels that used for a corner of my stand

TRANSPORT & STORAGE
Unless you have a big car and house with plenty of space, you will need to consider how you transport your display kits and where/how to store them after the show. Ideally you can utilise the display materials for another shows so double the usage, but this can need a little planning as each show has different stand size and scheme.

The table I used was actually the same one I used in 2013. It is my usual photo shooting table and my wrapping station. Already exists mean that there is a space for it. (I must admit that I was lucky to live close to the venue so that we did not need a long journey with the table on the car roof!)
The wooden shelves are made to be dismantled so can be transported flat. Also they can be adapted to other ceramic events I will be attending in the future. So no waste.

After all, I must say a huge thank you to my dear husband who always listens to my design ideas and implements it with his DIY skills. (and coping with my nagging!)

PLAN TIME SCALE
Whether you need building and painting your display materials, make sure you put that time into a work schedule to avoid last minute chaos. As makers, you may stretch time to make maximum stock as close as possible to the show, but preparation of display itself can also take time. I have set at least a week worth of time slot dedicated to this. 
If you have children at home, you will need to put that into the consideration too. You know what’s going to be like with running around child next to your precious materials!


SHOW DISPLAY
My apology for rather poor quality of photography, as I struggled with those artificial lightings. Nevertheless, I hope you can get an idea.


MY 5 TIPS FOR DISPLAY
1. think about theme and style of your work
2. think how your work want to be seen / plan for eye levels & other eye views
3. think about effective background
4. props or no props?
5. use advice if available

THEME & STYLE
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted my display to look like someone’s home. Be it dining cabinet, table setting or wall decorations, that you can enjoy looking at. This idea applies in every part of my display, otherwise it won’t harmonise each other.

EYE LEVEL & OTHER EYE VIEWS
This is about deciding how your work wants to be seen.
Eye level is the first thing you have to consider in order to draw the viewer’s attention without them walking pass. In my case, the top and second shelves of my dining cabinet is the eye level point, and there I have displayed my ‘rakugaki’ series. Unique and individual blue and white decorations are good to catch viewer’s eyes but also makes you feel at ease with symmetry display, rather than tiring with over-loaded display.


Once you draw your visitors into your stand space, you can create another view point and close up. Like tabletop display, which is a bird eye view as they look down and physically handle your work. I displayed my ‘mazekoze’ series as if I was styling the table for friends gathering to create inviting feel. 


Wall space can create maximum impact if you use it well. I used two panels in the corner to display two series of work, with carefully chosen items that explains each character. 

‘mazekoze’ series is aimed for everyday use to mix up colours. So I scattered plates randomly on the surface and added a little shelf to display my new cups to maximise the use of colour palette.


‘rakugaki’ series is about spontaneous doodling. Here I have selected oval platter that shows large surface decoration and spoons for irregular shapes, which I hoped to be eye catching.


I must admit, the most exciting part was to display the paintings by Debbie Georgie. Debbie is one of my most admiring painters today. She paints flowers and ceramics in such a beautiful and somehow nostalgic manner. Prior to this show, I asked her commission for painting with my pottery. Aren’t they just wonderful? Thank you so so much Debbie. 

BACKGROUND
In the past, I used to settle with all white display. Although nothing wrong with all white, I went for bold colour to make my work to stand out. But be careful with the choice of colour, because you don’t want it to crash with your work or overtake the impact. My choice was dark grey, which is bolder than white but still understated colour and works with almost any colour. I had some beautiful paint left (called ’downpipe’ from Farrow & Ball) from our recent living room renewal. (See this post.) This was used on the background of shelves as well as two wall panels.

PROPS OR NO PROPS?
Using small props can be effective for your display as they can provide mood or seasonal touch. However, if you over do it or use wrong materials and/or theme, it can ruin the whole picture. 
I used natural linens, green herbs, wooden spoons and pears (yes pears!) for the table styling, carefully selected to match the theme. Hope you like the look.


For a little space left on the side, I used our bedside drawers. Stand doesn’t have storage space and you are not allowed to leave any storage boxes there, but you will need some space to store paper works, stocks and so on. So having drawers is very useful without looking cluttered. On the top of them, I displayed some bud vases and cherry blossom from our garden to give a sense of spring.


USE ADVICE
One of the great things about BCTF is that you can get advice from the organiser, be it display or price setting. I found it very useful, otherwise you may stuck with your unsolved problem. If you have advice available, of course do use it!


REFLECTION
Over all, it was a good show despite my nervousness.

I had so many positive feedback about both my work and my display. I took a small notebook to record visitor’s information and it came back almost full. Many of co-exhibitors came and left me positive comments too, which is really encouraging and supportive.

Except, I had one lady stopped by and left me a negative comment. “Your work is too simple, too domestic.” to my face then she walked off! I was stunned and did not what to say, so I just said “sorry”.

I ranted a little bit over Instagram post but after reading some comments, I had a second thought. Maybe I should take this as a compliment. Because I know that pottery is never simple. It takes practice, skills, knowledge and effort. It also takes time to get “simple” right. You can easily overdo things in pottery, almost to “hide” the lack of skills or weakness. So if my work appears to be “simple and domestic”, it means that my aim of everyday tableware has been achieved. Maybe this lady actually helped me refocus what I am aiming for! 


Anyway, I must say I am very happy with the show result, as I have received Christmas exhibitions offers and a good numbers of orders from galleries that keeps me busy for the rest of year. Some galleries that had my work back in 2013 have come back and ordered many, which is truly grateful knowing that they are happy to have my work again.

Hope you enjoyed behind the scene of BCTF and some photos. Thank you for reading. m x


2 February 2018

SHOP OPEN!


My online shop has reopened. 

I am currently reviewing the design and size of some items prior to the trade show in April. Therefore some current stock are now on sale with reduced price. 

Another good news is that I have set for an international shipping to most of Europe countries and Japan, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand too. Hope this may be a good news for some? 

You can browse from here

Thank you so much for your support. 

Maki x

12 January 2018

Goals for 2018


We are back home safely from Japan. My girl has returned to school and our routine has gone back to our usual, but my body clock has been behind the routine from travel fatigue, hence it took me a while to write my blog post. How are you all? 

It was rather unexpected holiday that as my mum has gone ill during our stay I ended up looking after two of my loving people. Leaving my poorly mum behind is not easy, but I hear she is on a mend thankfully.

During flying back home, I was thinking about how I would like my 2018 to be. Without a doubt, “good health and well-being” is on the top of my list. Without it, I cannot make my work and be there for my family. It’s so simple but one of the most difficult goals to achieve for me. Taking my own time, especially for resting time has never been easy. I even feel guilty when I’m not working. So this year, I would like to look after my well-being more consciously and not to feel guilty for it. 

After our plane landed, I saw a woman struggling to sort out the buggy with one hand and other holding a little baby. Everyone was just walking pass. I instantly offered her a help and she asked me to hold her baby girl whilst she was sorting out the buggy. The moment I hold the baby, I felt warmth. My daughter looked at the little baby and told me that she used to be that small. She gently stroked the baby’s hair and smiled. The woman and I had a little chat and she thanked me with a somewhat relieved smile. It was a little precious moment that my girl and I shared because of helping this woman. 

When we don’t have time, we tend not to notice what’s around us. But if we can slow down a little bit, then we may be able to see what might be more important. We may be able to realise a sense of gratitude in our life.

So my goal in 2018 is “being gentle with yourself” and “being kind to others”.

Have you thought about your goal for this year? Would you like to share? Whatever that is, I hope you had a good start to the new year. 

1 January 2018

A Happy New Year




Thank you so much for visiting my blog, all your likes and comments in 2017. It was certainly a year of big changes for me as I became sorely self-employed and full-time in my studio work. Also having seen my little girl starting her school, after years of difficulties in her medical health, it was an emotional year. I’ve shared my story from time to time, and it was great to receive your kind messages, which have been truly encouraging and helped me get through. I cannot thank you enough for that.

Here to your happy and healthy 2018!

Talking about a new year, me and my girl are now in Japan, spending some time with my family. 

Maki x 

21 December 2017

Merry Christmas


Thank you so much everyone for checking out my inconsistent blog!

I have been so busy and find it difficult to update blog more regularly. (I’m more regular at Instagram these days) Nevertheless, I still like a proper writing space, be it notes to myself or my ponder rather. I will continue writing my blog as much as I can, so please continue come and say hello!

Did you know you can get notification of my blog update via email? If you are interested in, please resister, you can find it on the top right hand corner of my blog. (You can see this bit only on PC screen I think, not mobile, sorry!) 


Here is some seasonal captures for you. Hope you like them. 


School run finished. 
Studio door shut. 
Now candles and mulled wine. 
Who’s with me? 

Whatever you do, wherever you are, 
Wishing you all a happy warm Christmas! 

Maki xxx

26 November 2017

SHOP OPEN!


Finally my online shop has gone live tonight!

Hope you can pop over and have a loooook! You can view from my website → here 

(Shop will be closing on Friday day 15th December.) 

Any feedback is welcome. Enjoy!

m x

11 November 2017

Christmas Makers Market


Ok, it’s not too early to mention Christmas now, right?
Are you a early planner, or like me rather leaving till the last minute?
Whichever the case you are, here is the event you may like to anticipate this season.

I will be attending Christmas Makers Market on Saturday 25th November at Rural Art, among with other artists. Rural Arts is a beautiful gallery with lots of fun workshop and a lovely cafe, located in a Yorkshire town, Thirsk. If you are near by, why not pop over for your first Christmas shopping? (or even last for a well-organised person!) 

Meeting makers and artists is a great fun, talking to them and finding out their insight. Purchasing something directly from them is rather special too. 

I will be showcasing a selection of tableware, as well as Christmas decorations and hangings. 

my Christmas bells will be also available

The show is from 10 am to 4pm. For direction and more information, please visit the website Rural Arts. Looking forward to meeting you.

*   *   *

Those who cannot be near Yorkshire, my online shop will be open soon. If you don’t want miss out, please sign up to my newsletter to get early notification. You can do so via my website


Thank you so much for your support.

27 October 2017

NEW WEBSITE


Hello everyone!

I have been rather quiet here lately. Where did October go?? Honestly!

Actually there were lots of things I wanted to write about in my blog, but with lots of things to be done, time always seems to be gone by before I get a chance to write anything! Agh!

Anyway, here is a brief but BIG NEWS for you.

My new website has gone live! 

I have been aiming to upgrade my website since Sabrina was born, then four years have passed. (whoops!) Doing it all by yourself is not so easy for a non-tech person like me. But I did it!

Right now, I am on the next stage, which is setting up my online shop, which I am hoping to open by the end of November. Fingers crossed. 

In the meantime, hope you can enjoy viewing my website and let me know what you think. Any feedback is welcome. 

If you would like to know about my shop update and future event, please sign up for my newsletter. You can receive early notification.

All link is here; makikohastings.com

Thank you so much for your support. x m

13 September 2017

Wardlow Mires Pottery & Food Festival

show venue in the middle of beautiful Peak District (before the storm!)
A huge and belated thank you for those who came to Wardlow Mires Pottery & Food Festival last weekend despite the horrendous weather. You were all amazing! If you have seen my story clip from Instagram, you could tell the buzz of the venue. I was actually stunned how busy it was! It was wonderful to meet so many people, had a chat about work and life, and to see off many of my work to happy new homes. Thank you so much!

Here are a round up of this show and more of goodies from other potters at the end. Hope you enjoy! 

“A celebration of the table”

A keyword of this show by the organiser Pat Fuller was stuck in my head since I first heard about this event a few years ago. To me, pottery has always been to be used and enjoyed at the table, which was deep in the food-culture in my Japanese background. However, as you can find so many industrial ceramics out there, I guess it is not as easy as you think for people to bring “handmade” pottery to home. But actually I feel more and more people enjoy their home cooked meal with family and friends these days, and they are realising that a joy of the table can be brought with handmade pottery to serve the food. I’ve been holding this idea, which is quite a basic but easily forgotten, as the main reason that I love making pottery and love to share with people. 

So with a lots of expectation, I finally visited the event last summer. Well, you know what? It went beyond my expectation. It was bloody brilliant! Up until then, when it comes to ceramic event, tableware were not necessary the centre of focus. But this show was all about it, which was exactly what I was looking for. So you know how much I was delighted to take part of this show. I cannot thank the organiser Pat enough for being so kind and encouraging. 

my stand at the show (need more refining!)

Setting up with my display stand whilst you look around many established potters’s wonderful displays wasn’t an easy one. I kept feeling that my stand looked rubbish and amateurish. Not enough height, not enough impact. I was rather disheartened to be honest. The space in our car was limited with my daughter and camping gears, as one of my excuses. Yet the show like this is actually a good place to learn, too. I hope I will get better at it with practice over time.


As you can see, I displayed two of my recent work, “rakugaki” (blue and white series) and “mazekoze” (four coloured) in symmetrical way. The interesting thing from this show for me was to hear what people say about my work. 

my "rakugaki" mugs and jugs

Many mentioned that “rakugaki” has a sort of Scandinavian feel. I do love Scandi style myself, but have never thought about it when I was making these. It’s rather nice to know such taste comes out naturally not deliberately, so I am very happy.

"mazekoze" nesting bowls

As for “mazekoze”, the colours and the texture of glazes were well received. If you’re my blog reader for a while, you know it took me a long time to get these colours, so it is nice to hear such a good response. Some says “organic”, some says beautiful to the eyes and to touch. That made my day!

Many also mentioned that they can see Japanese-ness in my “caring to the details” approach, but there are also freedom in designs like Western. What a great compliment! Thank you everyone. 

********

Now, you know I cannot take my eyes off other potters as a pottery lover. There were many established and talented potters at the show. I would like to share some of my favourites with you. 

I have been a big fan of Isabel’s work for some time now as I posted in the past (here). Those colourful surface decoration are truly joy to the eyes and we enjoy having a cuppa in her lovely mug everyday. 

colourful stand with ISABEL MERRICK
bird butter dish by ISABEL MERRICK


Actually Isabel has been a great asset for me to come to this show. Always encouraging and giving me positive feedback, and in fact she was the one who persuaded me to apply for this show a year ago. It is so fortunate to meet someone like Isabel, as I feel like I have got a mentor! Thank you Isabel, as always. It was lovely seeing you again, (and your fabulous tent with fairly lights!) 

I have never met Margaret before, but she approached me to say that she’s been reading my blog. You know I share about my daughter’s condition etc in blog, talking to her felt like rather personal and intimate. 

MARGARET BRAMPTON and her stand
an excellent owl bowl by MARGARET BRAMPTON

Margaret produces traditional slipware with sgraffito decoration, many of which are flora and fauna. I was instantly drawn to her owl bowl with a quirky handle. You know I could not resist! Happily came home with us. Thank you Margaret, it was so lovely to meet you. 

Fleen’s stand was directly opposite to me. I haven’t seen her work at first hand before but I knew from an article in Ceramic Review. Fleen makes wood-fired salt-glazed stoneware with stamped surface decoration, which is her unique charms. She also makes simple yet elegant porcelain pieces. 

FLEEN DORAN and her beautiful salt-glazed work

Fleen kindly shared her tips about online shop, mailing list etc and all was very helpful information for me, as I am hoping to build that up this year. She is now expecting her first baby and it was lovely to chat with her, and she also spoken to my daughter at the site. All the best Fleen and looking forward to hear if it’s a girl or a boy! 

Ben’s free, wild and somewhat primitive drawings on his work are just so appealing to many of us, I’m sure. They make us happy! It's a simple fact! 

BEN’s whimsical drawings bring us happiness
A man to watch! BEN FOSKER

His drawings fascinate me a lot. As I also draw my “rakugaki” series, it’s good to get inspiration from other artists work too. Having spoken to him over Facebook for some years now, it is strange to meet him this way because you don’t feel like a first time. He is indeed a lovely chap as you imagined and kindly shared the story about his family and his thought about the show. 
wonderful owl platter by BEN FOSKER

I always wanted his work one day, so this owl platter now sat on my bird wall looking at us everyday. 

As I was looking around prior to the show starts, Sheila’s pottery was the very first one that I was attracted to. 

 pencil drawings by SHEILA HERRING

SHEILA HERRING and her stand

She explores the surface design with pencil line drawings and sgraffito. I just love those techniques and tools. As you might remember that I used to use pencil line drawings on my old “rakugaki”, it brought a smile to my face when I saw her work. With additional colours and dark clay that she altered its shape and embossed pattern, her work brings to life. 

my fav jug of the day by SHEILA HERRING

I adore this jug with a flower handle. What a creation! Great meeting you Sheila. 

Finally I cannot thank enough for this opportunity to Pat the organiser of this wonderful event. Her friendly, welcoming and down-to-earth character is such an admiration to many of us, certainly to me and helped put me at ease at the show. 

beautiful teapot and cups by PAT FULLER

We returned home with a perfect memory too. We shall treasure them. 


Thank you so much for reading along! Hope you enjoy it and find your favourite too. You can click each name to visit the potter’s website to find out more.