Why Craft Finder?
Craft Finder was born in South London, just up the road from Brixton. I was moving to Sheffield from London where I'd been living and working for nearly 20 years and was wondering what to do next. Walking into a craft shop gave me the inspiration - I felt the excitement of hand made things.
As a lover of contemporary craft I've often been frustrated by the difficulty of finding makers and their work,whether near home or when visiting another part of the country. Craft fair catalogues such as those from Origin or Lustre seemed to get lost just before I needed them. And although the internet provides more information that any of us can imagine, finding the right information quickly and easily never happened.
I designed Craft Finder so that I would be able to find makers and places near wherever I happened to be.
At Craft Finder we are lovers of contemporary craft. We want everyone to enjoy the excitement of finding something they love, wherever they are in the UK. We carefully select makers for our collection so you aren't disappointed when you visit us or them.
We have a second aim too. We want to support makers so that they can focus on what they do best - making. Many makers spend considerable time promoting themselves, which is not necessarily where their skills lie, or what they enjoy doing. We hope that Craft Finder will reduce the time that makers need to spend on promotion, so freeing up more time for making.
Who we are
Prior to starting Craft Finder I worked across the public, private and voluntary sectors in a variety of roles. I've discovered that I love starting things from scratch and helping people make the most of life.
Living in London until recently meant that I was able to benefit from the proximity of many events and makers. I bought my first piece of craft 10 years ago, a jewellery box made from slabs of clay with curvy indentations. Now my collection (that sounds rather grand, but I do have a collection, even if it's not very large) includes a beautiful vase made from birch bark to a piece in white cast porcelain. Only 2 pieces of the collection have cost more than £70. Craft Finder's 'personal collection' idea arose from the lack of space that I know will become a constraint in real life.
In January 2013 I took on the role of Maker Liaison Worker. I’m passionate about championing the work of UK designer makers and have been involved in the world of arts and crafts from an early age. I grew up in Cumbria where my family ran a gallery which was where my love of all things handmade began. After completing a BA Hons in Fashion Studies and working in London as a designer, I moved to Sheffield where I set up my own business, Bettyjoy. When I’m not at Craftfinder HQ you can often find me huddled amongst piles of fabric in my studio, teaching craft workshops or writing tutorials and articles for craft magazines.
Catherine Ailsa Jones
In May 2013 I joined Craft Finder as the Audience Development Worker. I believe that contemporary craft provides an excellent antidote to our fast paced world driven by mass production, and that beautiful objects are good for the soul.
I grew up in South Yorkshire before moving to London to complete my BA in Fine Art Practice at Goldsmiths. After graduating I lived in Germany for 10 months in an attempt to learn German, but also to work as a copywriter for an online tourism company. Writing short stories and collage making drive my artistic practice, and when I am not working at Craft Finder I am often in my studio playing and creating. I also co-edit Maude, an online magazine for artists and makers to publish their thoughts, research and reviews.
First, we want to make sure that things are working right and to hear what you, our visitors, have to say. We've one or two things we want to tweak during this start-up time as well. One of the things we'd like is a mobile version for the smartphone users amongst you but we'll have to see what you say. On a whim you'd be able to check the best of contemporary craft in your vicinity, whether you are on your way home from work on public transport or going away for the weekend.
Let us know what you think, however brief, so we can consider it in our future planning.
Craft Finder would never have existed without the support, help and encouragement of many people. At the top of the list are:
Yorkshire Artspace, especially Mir Jansen and Kate Dore
the Arts Council, especially Steffan Hughes-Jones
Jane Ferrier-May who helped keep me on track
the Crafts Council, especially Fiona Moorhead, for believing in us
Shirley Frost at designGAP who encouraged me on my way
makers at Yorkshire Artspace who allowed me to interrupt them as they were working, including Jennie Gill, Ross Gilbertson, John Thatcher, Anna Childs, Coralie Turpin, Jason Thomson, Keith Tyssen, Brett Payne, Seiko Kinoshita, Charlotte Tollyfield, Brian Holland and Neil Woodall.
makers I talked to at craft fairs who also helped hone my ideas.
For dedication to the task, flair, flexibility and generosity, many thanks are due to our developer Blaine Manock and html whizz Matt Solly of Indigosquared and Anna Weaver, our designer at DesignAGoGO. Without them you wouldn't be reading this.
And many thanks are due to all those who put up with me thinking about Craft Finder most of the time, especially to my partner Greg.