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By Janet, Apr 23 2013 12:58PM

A few weeks ago The Refectory Table played host to 7 makers from the Crafts Council injection programme, 2 officers from the Maker Development Team and a photographer.


Crafts Council had commissioned us to provide a networking experience combined with excellent content for the makers to get to grips with as a group. They were going to be spending a rare day together, away from Crafts Council HQ, getting to know each other and building lasting ties and working relationships.


We wanted their time together to be thought provoking and have lasting value.


We modelled the day on Tell Your Story, one of our most popular courses. The makers spent time exploring their business and personal values, and thinking about how to create stories around those values in order to build meaningful relationships. It was all about creating messages about themselves and their work that would resonate at a deeper level with clients and customers, fostering empathy and helping build understanding and loyalty around their brands.


The day was also very much about the makers finding out about each other, so exercises spent helping each other explore personal and business values helped them build relationships not just as fellow makers but as potential future collaborators.


Some makers brought their wares – and these were used over the lunch and breaks – giving them the opportunity to see each other’s work, handle it and drink and eat from it. There were beautiful blown glass vessels and platters from Michael Ruh’s studio, witty white tableware from Reiko Kaneko and beautiful sculptural wooden kitchen boards from Lee Borthwick. In asking the makers to bring work we also created an opportunity for them to get some great photos of their work in use. Tas, the photographer, somehow managed to make everyone comfortable enough to be unselfconscious whilst he snapped away throughout.


While the makers were discussing ways in which their stories could be told on websites, blogs and social media, the two Crafts Council officers used the day as time out to think about elements of a re-design for the Crafts Council website.


A day at The Refectory Table is designed to provoke those special ‘aha’ moments – where the light bulb goes on and clarity of thinking arrives. The makers worked through a substantial workload and took away pages of notes, and goodie bag and CD of course materials – but still clearly had a lovely day out together.


The deeply social nature of our courses, built around great content and great food, connects people together in a community of ideas and creativity. We keep a conversation going with previous participants (and they with each other) on social media and in real life. This diligence in staying in touch leads to fresh thinking and fruitful collaboration. And that’s what The Refectory Table is really all about.


Thank you to Crafts Council for commissioning this event, and to the makers on the day.

Thanks also to previous course participant Helen Hallows for loaning her work ’Up the Garden Path’ for the day.


You can read more about the day in this article from the May/June edition of Craft & Design Magazine.


The makers were – Samantha Bryan - Brain’s Fairies, Linda Bloomfield - handmade porcelain tableware, Yen Duong - Yen Jewellery, Noorin Khamisani - Outsider Fashion, Lee Borthwick - Installations & sculptural maker, Natascha Wahl for Michael Ruh Glass, Reiko Kaneko - Ceramics.


Photography Tas Kyprianou


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