Transcript first Poly meeting

R1: Again, everyone saw that we were encouraging you to bring some things along that you might be working on, anything that, you know, part of your soft of craft, if you like. And the idea is if we can have people just kind of sat around a table and what we’re going to do is just sort of throw in some little conversation starters and see where they go, and the idea is that if you’ve got anything, if you’ve got sketch books or any of your knitting or whatever, just feel relaxed. You can leave it, yeah, yeah.
R2: Yes. We’ll put two tables together.
All: [00.31 moving around talking]
R3: We did do a raffle at [01.43 unclear].
R4: I like that, because I am involved in the embroidery too.
R5: Yes, you are.
R4: Yeah, very cool, just kind of cool. I was in my [02.08 unclear]. I was too busy at work to go so I had to stop. I was like the secretary of the branch but when you can’t go to anything you’re redundant.
R5: [02.16 unclear] to bring yours.
R4: Have you? Really? It’s a riot.
R3: It depends who they chose.
R4: You’re right.
R6: Something I’m working on at the minute, quilting.
R7: Yeah, it’s going to be a lap quilt just for me. I’ve got loads of different like ‘30s reproduction fabrics.
R6: Okay.
R7: I’m perhaps doing this initial shape first and then…
R6: See what comes of it.
R7: Yeah.
R6: It’s nice if you can use fabric as well. Somebody I knew made, how to make children’s dresses and they [02.44 unclear] and stuff, so it’s like a memory sort of [02.47 unclear].
R7: I’ve not done that yet though.
R6: It’s lovely, yeah.
R7: And those are my favourite flowers.
R6: Yeah, beautiful leopard prints.
R4: Are those the silk or are they just shiny?
R5: They’re just shiny.
R4: Oh, like the…
R5: They’re like crayon.
R4: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do you use like threads every or anything like that to keep them in shape?
R5: [02.59 unclear].
R4: Or just want to spit for [03.02 unclear]. It’s like a sort of false beeswax.
R5: Like crayons, yeah.
R4: Yeah. But you need something to kind of keep it in shape.
R7: Yeah, this is my obsession, I think.
R6: I think it can be a bit addictive, can’t it? Once you get going you can’t put it down. I did make [03.12 unclear] in September and they did loads of workshops down there with [03.17 unclear] did a quilting pin cushion and she’s got well into it now. They did like hexagonal sort of prints, so she was so involved in it, she’s quilted pretty much everything now, so yeah, she’s really got into it. But she loves knitting stuff as well, she’s only fifteen but she really loves sewing and textiles. She’s doing GCSE textiles at school, so loads of knitting and she’s making a bluebird and then she’s usually got two or three different things. She’s done…knit socks and she’s knitted a pair of fingerless gloves that were a pair of socks that she’s adapted and they’re Dr Who [03.54 unclear] so it’s got the police box knitted along the fingers.
R8: Is that your bag?
R3: Yeah.
All: [04.03 all talking]
R6: It sounds good, doesn’t it? Yes, so she’s adapted it and made these fingerless gloves and it’s got your police box and little windows down and out the side and then [04.16 unclear] over here, she’s done it really well.
R4: I also like the fact that you’ve got a [04.14 unclear].
R7: That’s very clever.
R5: This is a standard sewing kit.
R4: Right.
R6: Yeah, she’s really enjoying it. It’s good.
R7: I wouldn’t mind, it’s like a great quilting community.
R6: Okay. I don’t know if she’s looked online though. Do you go on to Pinterest and things like that?
R7: Sometimes but I try not to do it too much because you get sucked in.
R6: You do, yeah, it’s like looking at magazines and things, you kind of get drawn into it all, don’t you, yeah.
All: [04.40 all talking].
R6: So it’s beginning to hinder different things. It’s interesting to see what people are doing.
R4: This thing has worked out quite well for me because of the fabric [04.58 unclear], kind of keeping all my stuff in.
R5: Well some of the things you made, when you see, the secret is having them online between [04.50 unclear].
R6: What’s your [05.04 unclear] Hanna? Do you make? You’re a sewer? It’s like [05.10 back] on your own.
R8: I am a textile lecturer on the textile design course at Trimo.
R6: Okay, well, my daughter, I was just saying my daughter is doing her GCSEs at the minute but she’s really into knitting and sewing and things, so she might like to come across and see what…
R8: Yeah. Where does…is she doing…
R6: At Helston.
R8: At Helston, okay, yeah, yeah.
R6: Yeah, they came across and I think they work with the contemporary craft guys doing the lights, the Truro like things.
R8: Oh yes, yeah. Well have, definitely come and see the degree shows in June.
R6: We’ll try and get down, yeah, because the last person we saw, was it Ellen Brett?
R8: Oh, yes, yeah.
R6: Gaby cuts my hair, so…so we saw hers but that was beautiful, really lovely, and then after the bumble bees and things that were sewn, embroidered on, they were lovely. I think she was really interested in those.
R8: Yeah, she had a very fine skill and a good eye for that sort of work.
R6: Yeah, definitely.
R8: Which, yeah, is very lovely, yeah. I think she’s wanting to set up her own business, that student, actually.
R6: Okay.
R8: She’s in Cornwall, I think, and she actually got married about two weeks after she graduated.
R6: Okay.
R8: So I think she’s enjoying that at the moment, but…
R6: Yeah, and then focus again. Because you’ve got amazing equipment, the looms and everything down there, fabulous aren’t they?
R8: Yes, oh, yes, yeah.
R6: You don’t ever do workshops or anything that’s open to the general public?
R8: That’s actually a sticky area, actually, because we’ve looked at a number of different ways to try and facilitate that but it comes down to really boring things like health and safety and accessible and it ends up pricing up as being really costly. But we’re looking at alternative ways of taking what we’re teaching and putting it online. That’s really, really in the beginning. We only had talks about it earlier this week and we’re hoping that that might be a way to bridge the gap between…
R6: Just to access information and things?
R8: Yes.
R6: So you’ll put images of the work or something on there?
R8: Well, there’s an organisation based up in London which is called Mastered and formerly it ran as a group called The Amazings. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them at all? No. It was looking at the older generation who have got a really strong skill base…
R6: Skill set, yeah.
R8: …and connecting that out to people, and it ran for about two years. It was incredibly successful and they used to do little face-to-face workshops. Like the guy whose idea it is, when he came down to talk to us about it earlier in the week, he said that, for example, he’d gone to do a weekend’s workshops on making sash windows with a retired carpenter, and he said it was great fun and he learnt a lot but coming to it six months later to actually have a go again and he’d forgotten how to do it. And I think the idea had run its course but in what they had observed they recognised that there was still a need to educate people in a different way that wasn’t at university and it wasn’t night courses and it wasn’t necessarily watching YouTube videos on how to actually do something.
R6: No, well a workshop-based thing…
R8: Yeah.
R6: … that you can access and then kind of go off in different tangents.
R8: Yeah.
R6: I did foundation down at Falmouth about seven years ago and we came up and used some of the facilities at Trimo.
R8: Oh fantastic, yes.
R6: And that was really nice to kind of we did the UV blue in glass and things that we couldn’t do there that kind of gave you another perspective on certain [08.55 unclear] things that you could do.
R8: Exactly. So I think it’s, yeah, being able to sort of, people to access some of the teaching without necessarily having to come in…
R6: To sign up for a full course.
R8: Yes. Yeah.
R6: Yeah, definitely.
R8: But as I said, that’s in its really early stages of discussion but it’s really difficult because we see all of this equipment there and the space, and especially over the summer when obviously the students aren’t there, then there are definite opportunities…
R6: To do a summer school, but then you obviously need to staff it and you guys need your break as well, don’t you?
R8: Yeah. Well, it’s also the technicians who they don’t, they’re not employed full-time so they’re only employed during term-time. So you have to get the technicians in so again it’s the cost of getting them in and then, as I said, that kind of prices things up.
R6: And they need to take their holiday at some time so…
R8: Yeah. So…and yeah.
R6: …they can’t take it in term-time, so it makes it difficult then, doesn’t it?
R8: Yes, exactly. So it sits…
R6: You almost want like another group to come in and do a workshop.
R8: Yeah, yes.
R6: Bring their own technicians and everything with them.
R8: Yes, yeah. So it’s a little bit of a grey area which I think we’re constantly trying to push around.
R6: Yeah, and like you say, with all the facilities there…I did a throwing workshop down at Blue Moon, at the school, and…when was that, I don’t know, two or three months ago.
R8: Oh yeah.
R6: But that was really good. That was with Jack Dougherty.
R8: I recognise the name, yes.
R6: Yeah, so just again, we have like an intense… I don’t think anybody spoke for about four days. We were all down there trying to remember to breathe, pulling these pots up for days, but it was just really nice to have that focus, short sharp bursts rather than go back every week and things, so we did four days intensive 10 ‘til 4 and you knew then the drying times between your grey and things, threw the things on one day, they were ready to turn the next day then you’d decorate them or whatever you needed to do. So that was quite good compacted into those four days and you kind of get the momentum then, as well, don’t you? Yeah, it’s good. I love doing it.
R8: What do you do, then?
R6: I do ceramics.
R8: Oh good.
R6: So it was…
R8: I think Kate’s a ceramicist, yeah.
R6: Oh does she?
R8: Yeah, yeah.
R6: Oh, okay. Is she at Trimo as well?
R8: Yeah, yeah. I brought my sketch book. I was going to do some collaging, actually because I haven’t got, a lot of the work I’m doing at the moment is actually on the digital embroidery machine so it’s not suitable to bring to something like this.
R6: Right. Do you do free embroidery and things as well?
R8: I don’t do as much of that, actually, at the moment. I’m very interested in just being creative with different types of processes. So a lot of the work I’m doing is just research and development. So it’s just thinking if I try this what happens and then reacting to that and trying something else, rather than actually working to a specific…
R6: Brief.
R8: Yeah, or final outcome. But I also freelance, so I produce work as flat fabric samples that are digitally embroidered which I then sell directly to the fashion and interiors market as well and that’s a very different way of working to my college research work because I have to think about the client I’m designing for as well as the commercial and implications of potential manufacturing and things, as well as what trends people are interested in and things like that.
R6: Yeah, trying to keep up, yeah.
R8: Yeah.
R6: Oh, it sounds really interesting.
R8: So lots of different sort of, yeah, ways of working, really.
R6: Yeah.
R1: …doing a bunch of pieces to do with spam email, because of course from that idea, and it was always about my words and phrases and stuff. I’ve got to find new books, now for [12.36 unclear] quite easy moments like for material.
R5: Loads of material.
R1: Yeah. And so, but this is [12.40 unclear]…
R8: I didn’t know whether you want to dip in, you’re sort of so taking a back seat. These are really nice, these.
R6: I’ve given up chocolate for erm since January so it’s tempting me too much there.
R7: There’s a lady there with sketch books.
All: [12.48 all talking].
R6: I’ve done ceramics. You’ve worked with ceramics as well, so it’s difficult to bring clay and things along.
R7: Yeah, it is.
R6: So I thought I’d just bring some pictures.
R1: Sorry, I don’t like to stop conversations because that’s part of the idea of this kind of session. But what would be really nice to carry on chatting, talking about what you’re doing and thoughts, absolutely great. What we also like to do is just occasionally, just maybe drop in a little discussion starter to see where it goes and see what people think and if lots of little conversations start to fire up, that’s fine. I don’t want people sitting there conscious of well, I’m not sure if I can say anything. We’ll find ways of capturing people’s thoughts and ideas as we go. So the first thing, there are just three things that we’re going to drop into the conversation, the first thing that we’re interested in everyone chatting about is a simple question, is skill important to what you do? Is skill important to what you do? Sorry, I’ve totally killed the atmosphere, there.
R7: Is skill important to what you’re doing?
R11: [13.45 unclear] skill sharing, because if you don’t have [13.49 unclear] and so little handcraft makes [13.54 unclear] so part of my see-saw [13.57 unclear] is doing stuff for kinds that is both, it’s technically competent enough to be worthwhile learning but simple enough that it’s not going to frighten them into starting. So it’s finding a project that somehow exists in that [14.12 unclear. Does that make sense to people? You want them to make something and feel they’ve achieved something but if it’s something so bloody simple it’s then “Oh, I do [14.18 unclear]” It’s so easy, why bother. But also still express that having a certain degree of competency takes time and practice, it’s very difficult to find that balance for them.
R7: What have you done with them, so far?
R11: I did a project with a group of fourteen year olds and we were making their prom dresses.
R7: Wow, that’s quite a big project.
R8: That’s cool.
R11: So it was obviously a) a very heavily invested garment in that if it went horribly wrong they’d worry about looking stupid in front of their friends. It was also then managing the templates because they designed their own dresses and then mums would go oh, you know, it could it be a bit longer, it could be a bit higher, you know. So.
R3: Could be longer here and shorter there, yes.
R11: Yeah, and they would take suggestions from me for more than they would from their mother because a) I’m not their mother and b) I’ve got pink hair. So, if I said well actually, look at it, if it was above the nipple then it might be a nice idea, so they would take design ideas from me better than they would from…but then we used all their mums’ dresses from the ‘80s as the source material.
R7: Oh, that’s nice.
R? So there’s memory in cloth as well so it was recycling, so it was a green theme, was the prom. I never had a prom so [15.34 unclear].
R3: Well proms weren’t around then, were they?
R8: Yeah.
R3: Yeah.
R5: Yeah, they were balls.
R6: It’s a new thing.
R11: [15.35 unclear] It’s like finding a grey squirrel, isn’t it, it’s like it’s off your [15.41 unclear].
R7: American.
R11: And really, because it seems also so consumer-driven, the limousine and the new outfit and all this kind of…
R5: The doves in a box.
R11: Yeah, these [15.52 unclear].
R3: The what?
R8: Doves in a box?
R7: Oh, the doves in a box?
R3: The dove from above. What’s going on? What are the doves in a box?
R11: Have you not seen the awful teen movies with American kids and they release the doves as they get out the limo? It’s like [16.06 unclear].
R3: Oh, no.
R11: It’s a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding prom.
R1: It was seagulls with me, down there.
R7: It’s all coming. It’s all going to come to me.
R6: Release the seagulls.
R8: Yeah.
R3: And ducks.
R7: Yeah, get the chips out, throw the chips out, get the seagulls out.
R9: Even with the doves, that’s my first thought. You’ve spent two whole days making this dress and you’ve released animals that are going to fly above you and poo.
R11: Yeah. But then it was also managing their competency because they didn’t have any. And I was doing some with some guys who were really advanced pattern cutting, stuff that they were doing their GCSEs but I was doing A Level and above pattern cutting with them. Of course you don’t go, “Well, this is degree level,” because they just go, “Aaah!” and all run around with their pencil on fire. You just facilitate what their design is and then try and how the hell do we achieve this when you can barely thread a needle. But all four of my girls went to the prom in the dress that they made and they all got As at GCSE.
R9: Wow.
R8: What was the reaction from their friends?
R11: Their friends absolutely loved it. That was the thing that was of interest to me, as an academic, was when I was wearing homemade second-hand as a kid, it’s like you were wearing dead people’s clothes.
R8: Yeah.
R11: [17.20 unclear] free, and all of a sudden it was transitioning between homemade and handmade and designer brand won and “Oh, my God, you made that, that’s amazing.” And now I’ve got a waiting list of kids that want to do this but I just don’t have the time or funding at the moment to do it again. But yeah, it was really, really interesting to see how…and it might, [17.41 unclear] might be thinking it’s anti-consumerism and trying to get kids to make stuff and think about fast fashion and fair trade, and if I just went into class and went Primark is bad, they’re just going to go don’t tell me that I’m wearing whatever or buy cheap clothes but if I could get them making something and it took them six hours to hem a dress, and then they can buy a shirt for three quid, they start making those connections between exploitation and labour far more physically. They have embodied knowledge of it and that’s kind of what I want to explore more in with my current research. And yeah, and they would then filter that through to their friends and it was on that slideshow yesterday, recommendations, you know, they will take a recommendation from their friend far more than if an adult comes into class and says this is bad. You know, if they start going to, say, to Dorothy Perkins [18.32 unclear], you know, the pattern doesn’t line up on the seam-line, the checks don’t match, and start getting fussy, they become much more interrogative consumers and I found that really, that’s my kind of sly way.
R1: Did they come to it with kind of no relevant skills at all or did they have the relevant skills but just from other things that they could adapt to them?
R11: It began quite radically. A friend of my mum’s daughter was given a sewing machine for Christmas by her Nan, and then my mum’s friend said would Sue teach me how to use a sewing machine. Yeah, fine. And then Nina brought three mates with her and they’d started doing GCSE textiles and wanted to do it and so it became this project and I was doing their prom dresses. So it kind of evolved organically because they were finding they weren’t learning what they wanted at school, so then because it was stuck and very rigid “You must do this and do this,” they weren’t learning.
R9: Was it in the school that you did it?
R11: No, we did it at my studio at home and then they dragged me into school because in order for it to count towards their GCSE we had to take photographs to show it was them doing it and not coming round to my house and eating biscuits and I did the work [19.41 unclear].
R1: Too late.
R8: What I’m interested in what you’re saying is that my mum in the ‘70s, a single mum, had to make a lot of our clothes, more that way and second-hand rather than necessarily charity shops, but I don’t think they were around as much then.
R11: They weren’t around as much, yeah.
R8: So, she had an interest in dressmaking anyway and that came from a very strong family friend of her childhood who was a professional tailor, and mum was interested and used to kind of work alongside her. She had an ambition to go into that as an adult but my granddad came from quite a well-to-do Canadian family although, in brackets, they lost all their money, but he still had the persona of that and he basically said…
R11: Yeah, yeah, you won’t be able to trade.
R8: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. The McNeils have their clothes made for them, they don’t make clothes, but then when she found herself as a divorced single mother in the ‘70s, she had to make clothes and so that was just part of our growing up. And as teenagers, when we became more interested in our own style and what we were buying and consumerism, a lot of the time it would actually be we’d go in and try things on and my mum would say I can make this for less, and that became a tagline and that was the family, you know, “I can make this for less,” and you can’t do that now.
R11: Yeah, no [21.00 unclear].
R8: You know, it’s completely flipped, actually.
R11: So you then have to flip it a different way, that instead of making it for less you’re making it better, you’re making more unique, personal style, it’s that kind of instead of buying Primark you are aiming at the kind of Armani.
R9: But also personal skill, like if you could see something and think I can make that different or you can alter…
R11: I can make it better is what I always used to say. Instead of I can just make that for less, I can make it for less and I can make it better.
R1: Does that sort of thought-process or opinion relate to other disciplines apart from aside from…
R11: I’m sure. I haven’t…
R1: Does anyone else find that in terms of what they do, whether it’s…
R11: I have a friend who’s a joiner and you just don’t take him near MFI, it was his kind of meltdown. So, yeah. So with wood-working too.
R1: Yeah.
R5: My mum used to make all my clothes and sometimes she’d make me things out of two pairs of her old trousers she’d make into a pair of trousers for me, which I’ve often felt quite ridiculous in, and sometimes I really like it and she would do that, I can make that cheaper. She would get the fabric and reproduce something that we’d seen that I liked, and that was all right, but I think as things got cheaper and it became more, you know, you couldn’t do that cheaper, she was quite liberated, and she was from a real working-class family and eight children in a two-up, two-down house and all that, and she became middle-class, I suppose, through her marriage and that kind of age group, kind of reasonably affluent, and they’re the ones who’ve all got pensions now, anyway. And erm…
R3: That have actually paid for them.
R5: Well yes. Well, yeah.
R3: Because our salaries were that much smaller in order to pay for the pensions.
R5: Yeah. So, I think she felt quite liberated by not having to make me things anymore or it not being something that she needed to do financially for us, so it kind of freed her up to do, so she took up upholstering chairs or flower arranging or lots of things with the WI that weren’t necessarily, they were for her pleasure rather than for because she couldn’t afford it.
R1: So thinking about skills, did her skills, so thinking about the context of skill, did her skills change or flourish more when there wasn’t the pressure that you had to do it but it was because that’s what she was interested in? Do you see what I mean?
R5: Basically, if you’re doing it with a WI class or similar and you want to do it yourself, then you’re going to be using better materials, so you need to be able to do it competently. And you’ll buy expensive materials because you’re going to be using them, and the skill comes. If it’s something that really takes your fancy then you find yourself doing it for other people, as well, but only as far as you want to.
R11: I remember years and years ago reading in Vogue, when I was a student in Cornwall living on tuppence, about Stella McCartney’s degree show and she went, “Oh well, I went off to this little antique fair and I bought all this beautiful antique lace,” [24.02 unclear] whatever, so I’m thinking yeah, of course you can because you’re Stella friggin McCartney. The rest of us are using fucking Calico, and being really annoyed.
R5: Yes.
R11: So, and I’d love to have been able to experiment with beautiful antique fabrics but I just didn’t have the financial resources for that. So maybe that’s why I’m so kind of politicised about being poor but stylish, I don’t know. Still my working-class chip.
R1: Does anyone do local things that they don’t consider it a skill, that you don’t do it because you feel like you’re developing a skill but it’s not a skilful thing to be doing, but you do it for nothing?
R3: Well, if it’s not skilful it comes out skewwhiff.
R1: Can it be not…
R4: I quite like teaching cross-stitch because you only have to do two different things and they’ve put the holes in the right places for you so it requires very little skill. But what you do get is immediate gratification so within five minutes someone can feel like they’ve mastered it because it doesn’t take much mastery, but that’s a whim and I call it a gateway craft because you start with this and move on to harder crafts and it’s just a way of getting people feeling comfortable with a needle and thread so then maybe they can move on to something that requires a bit more skill and dexterity.
R11: Yeah, that’s what I meant at the very beginning with finding that fulcrum between something that is easy enough that somebody will pick it up and give it a go and yet tough enough that they feel they’ve achieved something rather than, yeah.
R4: Yeah, it’s ridiculously easy.
R11: It is that intention.
R1: Is there anyone who isn’t motivated by a sense of pushing yourself further, so, you know, because I wonder if some people are quite happy to be sort of within a comfort zone, within what’s familiar, I’m not interested in trying new experiments, techniques, pushing myself, it’s the comfort of doing more of what you do already.
R9: Not personally, no.
R5: You’re going to get a bit bored, aren’t you?
R4: Yeah.
R9: So I’m not personally into it myself, but I have experienced it recently. In our village there’s a young woman in need of employment who does crocheted granny squares, here we have the equivalent of crocheted granny squares, am I right?
R6: Crocheted triangle.
R5: This young woman…
R3: Moved on.
R6: One less [26.13 unclear] if I think it’s going to be [26.14 unclear].
R5: All she ever comes back to, whatever, I’ve been to her weekly class where we have coffee, cake and chumability or whatever she likes to phrase it as. There’s been two other people of my level with us trying this out. We’ve given up. We’ve just given up because all she wants to do is…
R3: Another granny square.
R5: …crochet triangular pennants, and every time we try to show them or push the creativity of, not trying to go in on her scene, but saying well, there is more out there than just doing the same stitch and the same shape with bright primary colours.
R7: You could change the material, couldn’t you? Just bring in like something really random.
R5: Well, she won’t do it, you cannot get it. So, three of us have dropped out because we can’t stand the boredom any longer.
R9: Form your own splitter faction group.
R5: No, I don’t need to. I’m with the groups already.
R3: Three other groups anyway.
R5: That’s been done, but we just thought because it was in the village we would try to be villagers. But she’s dragging us, we consider it dragging us down, not stimulating us to do more, and it’s just stratifying, that’s the best way I can describe it.
R11: I think crocheting can really suffer from the curse of the granny squaring.
R5: Well, there’s a lot more to it than appears but you’ve got to push it in the fibre and I did a piece recently, put it in an exhibition in a frame and people said, “Oh, how do you do that, Edith?” and I said well, it is crocheting. “No it’s not.” “Yes it is.” “Ah, right.” Because they couldn’t work out how I did it and I think that’s the thing, it’s the result of what is the important thing.
R7: I remember the first time I saw a curved knitting needle and I was just like, “Oh, my God, what’s that?” you know, it was like a foreign thing. I’d never seen one before.
R11: You mean with the line on it?
R9: You mean the circular?
R6: Circular?
R7: Yeah, yeah, you must know what I’m talking about.
R5: A [28.20 unclear] for doing upholstery.
R7: [28.22 unclear] it was curved.
R3: Oh, upholstery needle, yeah.
R7: And then she was making hats and socks from them and I was just like…
R9: Circulars. Circulars.
R7: And I was just like, yeah it must be. I don’t know.
R1: So do people get spurred on by seeing the work of others that is maybe different to their own then, is that what motivates you?
R11: Oh yeah.
R7: Yeah.
R7: Yeah, totally, yeah.
R1: Or tools or processes or things that you’ve not…
R10: It is…
R5: It is quite stimulaic.
R10: It is. If I see something like in books and being a visual person you sort of latch on to what it means to you. For example, I really like Japanese crochet because there is something which just appears from the design, from the way the book is produced to the colours they have chosen because it’s not that garish 1970s, ‘80s kitsch. You think oh, that’s nice, and you take it how I can make it my own and it’s…
R9: Also, just sometimes you see something that’s so technically competent and you’re just so admiring the sheer physical skill of the human hand being able to do. There is an exhibition at the V&A that’s on about the power of making and the whole thing was just inspired with how just gob-smackingly beautiful some of the things could be.
R1: Does that inspire you to try that…
R9: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
R1: …or does that just make you think I’m never going to get there.
R9: No.
R1: I mean you might be able to, you know…
R9: No. I think at least you can…
R1: …I’m not saying you can’t but you don’t think oh, I’ll give up now because I can’t get to that level.
R6: I think some people do.
R9: Some people do.
R6: But not everyone does.
R1: Maybe it’s that, like you say, it’s that sort of degree of challenge, isn’t it?
R9: Yeah.
R1: Where we think like if it feels like it could be achievable you can really press yourself and go for it. If it feels like it’s too way longer that’s [30.03 unclear].
R10: But it is in a way. I teach crochet at Penwith College and it’s as a direct, it’s what I always say at the beginning of a class, I said either you take it all for granted that you can do so many things without thinking about it. If I give you a crochet hook do you think what am I doing with my fingers, so I’m not doing that, and you get really, really frustrated because we are not used to being put into that learning position and it’s, like my partner, he is sixty five and plays guitar. Yeah, but he studied when he was fifteen. I started as a child with knitting and crochet, so my body memory, and that is really interesting article that about that the brain actually creates physically stronger neuron connections of pathways which are used time and time and time over again, and they did an experiment which written about with London taxi drivers who just know where they have to go and where they [31.14 unclear] and so it is with every one of us who has been doing something.
R1: Especially with children. I think that’s the way the brain develops and that there’s [31.22 unclear] type of thinking [31.23 unclear].
All: [31.23 background talking].
R10: With everything what you do, and I think that is what we need to remember when we see skills, if you start to learn something, if you start as a child to learn piano and you do it all your life, you don’t have to think about it. And then this would be often forget, it’s like these skills just take time to learn and that is what in our society people often ask me, “Well, how do you do that? I don’t have the time for that.”
R11: Well is there instant gratification?
R9: But it’s changed now, isn’t it, because obviously, what are we creating with a lot of young people now that are…what do they do, they use their X-Box or the, you know, I never grew up with that, but that’s hours and hours every day for years and years, so that hopefully that still could be used productively in some fashion but you’re kind of dealing with that, that is reality for a lot of people now, is they don’t go out and play with their bike so much because if you have more than five young people congregating outside you can call the police. So, do you know, children are a nuisance if they’re seen or heard. It’s really quite…so a lot of young people are in their houses playing computer games.
R11: Well, also the parents, the roaming space that children have these days has been reduced by something like 85 percent. Was it Robert Winston was doing an experiment on it.
R1: That’s right, yeah, yeah. The theory of…
R11: The roaming space I had I’d go off for hours. Literally, I’d come back when I was hungry and my parents were never worried that paedophiles had abducted me. It’s just…
R6: That’s the joys of the media, isn’t it?
R11: Yeah, and completely media bullshit. It’s no more dangerous now than it ever was. It’s just the media changed so kids are, not only are we afraid of children, we’re afraid of letting children out of our sight, so no wonder the poor souls are confused.
R10: What makes me a bit more optimistic is that I think, not with children, but I think there is a renaissance in interest in textiles probably because [33.22 unclear] our textiles [33.24 unclear] with younger women of, say, twenty plus.
R11: Yeah, very much so, there’s a generation that’s skipped it that are desperate for that.
R10: Yeah, and homemade and sort of [33.40 unclear] when you looked at the boom of shop mag…
R11: The magazines, just the magazines.
R10: Yeah, but also when you read about like why, how many like café kind of shop and workshop, people are doing exactly what we are doing. The cool thing to do is take your craft bag, go to a [34.04 unclear] café, sit down and make things together. It happens more in the bigger city, not so much down here. But I find that sort of opposing trend, yeah.
R1: Does anyone think we’re ever too old or too wise to learn?
R8: No.
R6: No.
R9: When you stop learning just bury me.
R4: Not unless you were outsiders. Best of luck.
R6: Black, okay, push down.
R3: Sorry?
R8: I can’t get [34.36 unclear] to make the outline, I think, about there.
R11: I think a lot of people don’t know what [34.36 unclear] said, are afraid to be vulnerable because to show competence is to be vulnerable so a lot of old people don’t want to be seen to be incapable. And it can be hard changing your way, really, what you said earlier Christiane, about people getting set into certain ways like the neuron pathways and that, they teach you that in counselling. It’s one of the hardest things, you know. If you always kind of have a tea towel there, you know, you’re trying to change the way you hang the tea towel is really hard, you know, you do the same thing all the time.
R9: I’ve moved the bin in the kitchen. I don’t know how many times I’ve dropped teabags on the floor.
R7: That’s just [35.05 unclear]. It doesn’t work [35.09 unclear].
R9: It’s in the bin bag. [35.11 unclear].
R4: The other thing, there was that book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which I mistook at first and thought it was the habits of seven highly effective people, and I wondered who they were. But the simplest one’s like sharpening the sword which is always try to learn new things and all those sorts of things and you kind of have a duty to yourself, I think, try and…I don’t understand how someone can spend more than five hours doing a thing without starting to pay a bit of attention to what they’re doing and think about and therefore develop some level of skill. I’m sure that lady makes the most amazing [35.45 unclear] granny crochet squares you’ve ever seen, she probably knows it but I think it must sort of happen. You can’t not wonder about what you’re doing after a while, surely, because it’s like…
R1: Well, does it work the other way round so if you’re on a production line, for example, you might wonder the right way of doing it to begin with and then you totally shut off to it after five minutes.
R4: That’s true. I once, I did a summer in a sandwich factory on a process line where we do like ten thousand sandwiches and I spend eight hours once putting tomatoes on pieces of bread, but by God I knew how to put a tomato on a piece of bread. Several hours later I’d lost the will to live, you’re quite right, it’s quite mundane but…
R11: But then you get into that Zen space of…
R4: You hope so.
R11: And then you start thinking about other stuff.
R4: We had Heart FM on the radio so that Zen space wasn’t there. There was too much Take That going on at four in the morning.
R5: Well, the reason you kept going was because you were being paid for it at the end of the day and that’s why you were there. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s what you want.
R3: So you could eat something other than tomatoes, yeah.
R4: Yeah.
R5: And it’s what do you want to do it for.
R4: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Are you doing it because you want to or because you have to?
R5: Yeah, if you’ve got to do something repetitive you don’t have to hate it…
R11: But then you look at some of the workhouse punishments that were repetitive in order to drive you crazy.
R5: Well, it’s called counting screw shops.
R11: Yeah.
R5: I worked in the employment service and I saw some people doing some very repetitive jobs in this assessment centre and I said to the man in charge of it, “Really, can they do that as a job?” and he said there are some people who want to count screws and some people who don’t. Now the ones who want to count screws, they’re quite happy to count their screws, the music’s on, they can talk to their friends, they are happy doing that. They get their money at the end and they can go home and not think about the screws. There are some people want to be like that. There are others who want to move on.
R7: Is it because they think that’s all they can achieve, though? I do agree with you…
R5: The sort of people that were doing that were at the limit of their abilities.
R7: Oh, I see so like…
R5: But they were doing something that they felt was effective.
R11: Oh but then [37.49 unclear] when I was doing factory work I knew an astronomy professor that had a breakdown…
R5: Oh yes, that was the sort of thing that…
R11: …and just went, “That’s it. That’s it.” He just wanted to peel sticky labels off of the wrong thing.
R5: Yeah, that’s it. That’s the sort of people we’re talking about, yes.
R11: Yeah.
R4: And then you have those schemers, like behaviour patterns that bring you inherent pleasure for some reason? So, and they, like I heard about this when I was at children’s centres and it’s like sometimes kids will just put things in order and it brings them pleasure and they can’t really say why, it’s whether you can extrapolate that. So some people counting screws might be a thing, I like getting lists of things, filling in the gaps of like making sure I’ve got like collecting comics and stuff.
R9: That’s learning things, yeah, isn’t it? For children that’s a learning thing, you see, aligning things and lining things up and sorting them in order. So at that stage of their development it’s a learning thing and then as adults, you do things a bit more [38.37 unclear].
R1: I wish my kids would line things up and sort them out.
R9: We have [38.40 unclear]. They do that a lot.
R6: I think there’s something particularly dispiriting about not actually being able to do those tasks. When I was a shelf-stacker, I was a really rubbish shelf-stacker, unbelievably rubbish and I never figured out why. I just couldn’t keep up with everybody else. Maybe I was dreaming or something, but I didn’t think I was. I was just incredibly slow and it just drove them all completely mad.
R11: I had a job with a diamond merchant once counting diamonds rather than screws, and it really is one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three and I was counting things that cost more than my annual salary and in the end I got so bored I shoved them up my nose just because it’s the most…it’s the biggest diamond I’d ever seen in my life and I thought, “I wonder if that would fit on my nose,” and yes, it did and suddenly they [39.25 unclear].
R9: There’s something weird about a brain this size that makes you go to that [39.27 unclear].
R11: Oh, what am I going to do, I’ve got twenty five quids, twenty five thousand pounds worth of [39.33 unclear]…
R5: Stuck up my nose.
R11: Stuck up my nose.
R4: And so it went on.
R9: I’ll never look at a diamond ever the same again.
R11: Oh, so, you know, you can do things, you block one nostril and huff really hard and it sprang up into the light fitting. Oh, shit. I had to stand on a desk and dismantle the light fitting and going you shouldn’t be doing this job, because like I’m going to get fired anyway.
R3: Were you just counting them or sorting them?
R11: You were counting them, you had to set them into rings so you’re doing three, so it’s two small ones, one big one and it really was one-two-three, one-two-three, counting, if they sent you the right number it was the most highly paid boring job I’ve ever done in my life. It was awful.
R1: Just thinking about the craft, that to a certain extent you get the best of both worlds, don’t you, because you’ve got the repetition in a lot of, well, not all but all the time, but it’s there, but you’ve also got the opportunity to be creative as well, to challenge yourself.
R11: Yes.
R10: That’s a sore point for me. I do it in my head and when craftspeople who came, I know someone who’s done, for fifteen years, handbags out of, with like velvet curtains. But I think if would sit for ten hours or more at a sewing machine and make the same five bags time and time again, I would go mad.
R1: Everyone’s different, aren’t they?
R10: Yeah, but it is for me it’s sort of where I think I’m planning to set up a website which is called “One Piece at a Time” because I can make one thing and that’s it, and I can watch it happen, that is my way out. But in terms of patterns where if someone else wants it, erm yeah it’s a new…
R9: Yeah. Once I’ve achieved, once I’ve almost like solved a technical problem, I find, and how you take that thing in my head and it’s [41.22 unclear].
R10: But I couldn’t do that ten times over again. It’s a pertinent thing so to confirm…
R9: Yeah either or.
R1: But I mean that leads us quite nicely on to the other thing that we’re quite interested in knowing, is to get a sense of how people use the internet. So the people in this room today, how do you tend to use the internet? Is there anyone here who doesn’t? Does everyone sort of use it one way or another?
R7: Some people are better researchers than others.
R6: Something [41.46 unclear] unappealing.
All: [41.46 all talking]
R3: Do we use the internet?
R5: Of course we use the internet.
R10: Or Pinterest.
R7: I get distracted.
R9: Yeah, it is just a time vampire, isn’t it? It just sucks your life away if you’re not careful.
R7: Yeah. I was [42.00 unclear] playing a game somewhere and how did I get here again.
R1: Is there anyone who doesn’t tend to use the internet for anything?
R10: Yes, I mean, for example, the embroidery project I did for my graduation couldn’t have happened without the internet. I’ve posted on Facebook and used email to ask people to embroider for me, and I said its…so I wrote a market plan, planning to do and asked if you want to message or email me your address and then it went, sort of people had passed it on and so that in that way coming [42.36 unclear] I would have struggled to achieve that on just a face-to-face or even just a purely email basis. So, yeah.
R8: That’s a nice bit of stuff over there.
R1: Is there anyone here whose craft has sort of somehow got quite strong connections with the internet online, you know, do you find your crafting is evolving because of the internet in any way or…
R11: Like [43.01 unclear] all those projects you end up involved in like this knitting sweaters for penguins that we’ve been [43.07 unclear] schools that I’m doing [43.10 unclear].
R1: Right, are you?
R11: Because it has to be [43.12 unclear] of that, but that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the internet so there is this kind of crafting [43.17 unclear] connection you can make.
R1: Okay, so it’s less about the craft itself but it’s more about the purpose of the craft or sort of what people…
R11: Yeah, very much so.
R7: I think academic life makes internet very much part of it, you know, you’ve always been taught about some publication like, you know, they [43.36 unclear] holy bound to get it, you know, and it’s uncomfortable and it’s kind of it’s not, I don’t think it’s natural for most of the artists who [43.45 unclear] lack in confidence and, you know, is actually pushing them through that, and I don’t know if you’re outside the academic world whether you would so much, unless you’ve got a natural marketing [43.58 unclear].
R1: Well, anyone here is outside the academic world?
R7: Yeah.
R4: Who’s that?
R8: You.
R4: What? I didn’t hear what you were saying, sorry.
R8: Use of the internet, Jamie, talk about that because you are very internet-based.
R4: Yeah, the internet, I’ve heard of the internet. Apparently it’s quite good.
R1: We’ve got it in Cornwall now.
R4: Have you? Yeah, I haven’t got it in Bedfordshire. I moved house, I had right first of all problem when the 3D wasn’t as good as it used to be and then I got over myself. The internet, one thing I will say is that there has been a lot of amazing people doing amazing crafts all over the years but the internet’s made it easier for them to promote themselves and for other people to find them I just struck it lucky with Mr X Stitch by having the right idea at the right time and being prepared to show rude things which seems to be the only defining difference between me and all the other websites and places like that and just being a bloke or whatever. But it’s a good tool, I think there’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from it and there’s a lot of, you’ve got to have your wits about you and things move really fast, so when I did this presentation yesterday, I was at Falmouth and talking about some stuff and I based it on a presentation that I did up in Manchester like eight months ago. And I had to tweak quite a bit of the content about social media and stuff because it wasn’t as relevant or things had moved, so things like the growth of Pinterest as a visual media, time vampire but visual media, has been quite prevalent and it’s trying to help people understand how that it’s never been easier to fail and quicker to fail but the more you fail the more chance you’ve got of success and stuff like that. So you can take a lot of opportunities and promote yourselves and find inspiration and meet like-minded people and stuff. I know in Cornwall, and I even found this in my data, you know, geography is a bugger but the internet makes that a lot easier to adapt to because you can be in the same space and time but it might be cyber space but you can still be there in time, which, this is my idea about the medium for the learning environment thing would be Google Hangouts right now are very useful, with up to ten people simultaneously being able to video chat for cheaps because actually that then means that ten of you can be in the same space and time together and see one another, which is quite a neat idea. And it’s still an evolving technology, but literally only now is Google Hangouts viable in that kind of way that video-conferencing used to be an elite thing a few years ago because you [46.10 unclear].
R7: I still think it’s quite, I mean I don’t have a tablet or a notebook or a whatever they’re called, I don’t have anything like that. I only have a normal mobile phone and a laptop at home, which hasn’t got a webcam, so I have to connect it all up. So I still feel quite backward in some of the technological advancements but do you reckon you can get all that even without all the gadgets?
R4: I think so. I mean, the good thing certainly with Google Hangouts and video-conferencing is you can buy, I mean everything’s built in these days. Let’s face it, my phone over there has got as much power as my laptop did five years ago or whatever, but I think it’s just some of those production costs have gotten a lot lower and the infrastructure means that data moves more quickly so you’ve got more ability for streaming real-time video things and stuff, and it’s a bit of a wild frontier but I’ve always felt that the internet’s been great for building community and, you know, so the internet and my craft, it’s made me pretty hopelessly insecure about my craft because every single day I see people doing amazing things and then I look at my cross-stitch and I’m just like, this is ridiculous because even sitting next to ladies like this who have got more skill in their left finger than I’ve got in my entire lifetime I don’t get the chance to learn the stuff.
R3: But then you’re not as old as we are.
R4: No, no, no.
R5: Not as old as me.
R4: No. But it’s…
R5: A few more years yet.
R4: There’s just so much talent out there. But I think that’s great and I think that’s why it’s great to go and do presentations where I can go look at this cool stuff that I’ve seen, because I’ve seen a lot of interesting things and hopefully it’ll spur people on, but you can’t beat sitting in the real world with people.
R1: Has anyone else been involved in kind of things, a bit like Jamie with that sort of relate to a craft in terms of sharing work or hangouts or kind of getting feedback or…
R4: Who is on Maverick, I think that will be there.
R1: …any sort of projects or anything that have been online, has anyone else been involved in the internet like that?
R10: It’s sort of I’m waiting, there’s an American woman who does a magical feather project and I find that really, really beautiful.
R3: Magic what?
R8: Feather.
R3: Oh right.
R10: So she did that and she’s going to do a new one where she, and what I like about it it’s you see really work from places you otherwise wouldn’t encounter. Yeah that…
R1: Okay.
R4: I think that, sorry, and I want to stop talking because there’s loads of other people here, but one of the things that always made me laugh is like we would feature rude things and everyone would go, “Oh, my God, you’re featuring rude things,” but I realised that they were always there and none of this stuff’s particularly new, it’s just you can find it more easily now and I think that’s the thing with those projects is people are doing amazing things but now you’ve got a chance to find them ways that you didn’t have before, and I think that’s probably the magic, really.
R1: Well, we talked earlier about sort of being inspired, if you like, by seeing the work of other people, can you do that equally well online by seeing the work of other people or actually do you have to see, I mean it might differ for different people depending on what your craft and your skill is, but is it just as easy to be inspired by other people’s work online as it is if you were to see it in the flesh or is it quite different?
R4: Hannah should tell you her Tilleke Schwarz story.
R8: Oh, yeah, that is interesting, actually. Yeah, thanks, Jamie. There’s a fantastic embroidery artist called Tilleke Schwarz and I’ve been a big fan of hers. I found her in magazines a number of years ago, looked her up online, really enjoyed reading about her work and looking at it in magazine, and then she was exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitching Show, probably about 2007, 2008, so I took the opportunity of going up there specifically to see that in a day from here. So it was a real sort of…
R3: Whoa.
R8: … yeah. But it was that…
R3: Yes.
R8: …I just thought to be able to see this in the flesh, this is just going to be extreme and I got on to her stand and they were really great pieces, big pieces as well, so again the scale physically changed and they came to life in the flesh. And I was overcome physically by an emotion that I wasn’t expecting, so I felt quite teary, my skin began to prickle because of that connection to the work, and she was on the stand so I went to introduce myself and started saying a little bit about this, my physical reaction to her work and the emotional engagement to it and she had just this massive cold front on and just came back very bluntly, “I don’t make my work for that type of reaction.” And I was so taken back that I really floundered because I thought am I wrong in feeling this or how can you not want to get people emotionally engaged in your work or aren’t you aware that people are going to react to it very personally and very differently? But there was just absolutely nothing. The conversation finished then and I was only able to sort of bring myself back into a place of erm…
R3: Where was the stand? Sorry I missed that bit.
R8: In the Knitting and Stitching Show, which is absolutely massive.
R5: Was she doing it in order to get reaction and then…
R9: She [51.43 unclear].
R5: …sell it?
R4: It’s because she’s from Holland.
R8: Yeah. Well, I did know that she was, you know, that maybe there was a barrier in terms of how she presented herself and how I am within language and within just, you know, different nationalities and things like that, but…
R3: Can you describe her work at bit? Can you tell us…
R1: Did you…
R8: Yeah. I mean the work is, I describe it as being a very modern-day sampler, so it’s about erm she catches words and phrases that come through email or notes that she sees or receipts that she finds on the ground. She’ll respond to things like Bart Simpson on the TV or the McDonalds’ “M” sign and it’s all sort of higgledy-piggledy put together, so it’s like a sampler but not in the structure of what we know samplers to be. And as we look at 19th century samplers and can connect back to what life was like then through the way that what is written and…
R3: The date and the age.
R8: …yeah, the dates and the age and the iconography that’s sort of being embroidered, I feel that that’s very much what Talleke’s work’s about for the future. People will be able to look back at that and see the words, the type of images and get something from that about the times that we’re living in now. So there’s a lot of storytelling, it’s very playful but technically, again, it’s absolutely beautiful and she uses a real range of different hand-stitch techniques and different types of threads and beautiful sense of colour.
R1: Do you view her work differently now after that experience?
R8: I still have an enormous respect for the work and I still absolutely, you know, every time she does something new I’m really interested in seeing it. She’s had a couple of other exhibitions since which I had wanted to go to. Actually, I have been to an exhibition in Stroud where there was a small exhibition of her work, but in one way I wish I hadn’t met her. It’s like, you know, meeting…
R7: It’s the [54.01 unclear], yeah.
R8: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So my reaction to her work hasn’t changed, it’s just, yeah, I can disassociate her person from doing the work and put my own feelings into the work that she’s doing.
R1: Right.
R4: There’s nothing new though, because last week on one of the antique shows or one of these information, historical information, they were showing exactly that sort of piece of work done by a woman who was in the workhouse.
R3: Oh, yes.
R6: Oh yes. She was on the [54.35 unclear] or something, wasn’t she.
R5: You saw it?
R3: Yards and yards and yards and yards of comment because she didn’t think she ought to be in the workhouse and relations had put her in…
R6: She was naming all people that she…
R3: And she was just it was…
R5: And it was just these words, words and all the information about why she was there.
R3: And, you know, Joe Bloggs is this and Annie is that and they’re a rotten lot of whatsits and it went on for yards. Yards and yards and yards.
R6: She’d made another one as well, hadn’t she?
R3: Yes.
R5: That wasn’t the only one, yeah.
R6: Yeah, I think there was another one that she’d made previously.
R5: So…
R3: Yeah.
R5: Because maybe she had a kink and she was expressing her woes.
R3: Yeah.
R1: It’s interesting how we might, sort of, how our thoughts about a piece of work can be effected or adjusted by what we know or would have heard about the [55.17 unclear] scenes behind it. So I suppose, in a similar way to, I don’t know, if there’s a film that you love or an actor that you love in terms of the characters, and you see them being interviewed or you meet them or whatever and suddenly you think you’re actually not a very nice person, and then that affects how you view them even if they’re playing a totally different character sometimes.
R5: So both of the ladies might not have been very nice people.
R8: Umph.
R4: I do think that…oh, go on.
R10: But to get back to your question, internet, real life, I love going to wool events. I’ve been a couple of times to the wool fairs in Cockermouth and to fibre fairs, and that is just sort of like coming home. You meet people who talk the same language who they’ll use the same things in a way, you just get hyper about a certain wool and that is just you can’t bags, you can’t do the fingering of yarn and to see the colours really. So, I appreciate the internet when I’m stuck in Penzance and I just can’t pop off to exhibitions in Stroud or London or Bristol…
R1: But it would never replace the physical.
R10: …but if I have the chance to go somewhere and meet people…
R5: I’ve been using the internet on my iPad. I love it because YouTube, if I’m thinking of a technique I’ll look up YouTube…
R1: Okay.
R10: Yes, yeah.
R3: Yes, YouTube’s got it some…
R5: …and the latest thing is what’s called deli paper from America, which you can paint on.
R9: It’s called what, sorry?
R5: Delicatessen paper, deli paper.
R1: All right.
R3: Oh?
R5: Yeah. Okay, latest thing, jelly plates and deli plates, the deli paper, the deli paper ladies is the latest thing and I just looked it up and they haven’t got it on YouTube properly yet, but…
R1: There we go, there’s…it’s a geography afternoon.
R5: Here we go, here we go, yeah. You can paint on it and it doesn’t, like it’s like a tissue paper so you can paint on it and it doesn’t bubble or pull.
R3: Crinkle. Yeah.
R5: And then if you put it onto your sketch book with a gel medium the paper disappears and you’re just left with the lettering.
R8: How did you come across that then, on the internet?
R5: A friend of mine, Cloth Paper Scissors on the internet, the American version.
R8: Right, okay.
R5: And this is what’s happening. We’re picking up all these international magazines, newsletters they call them and they’re advertising subscribe to our magazine, but you get a huge amount of content and information comes through from it. And then you can look it up and decide if you do want to buy it, which you don’t because you’re quick enough to pick up the technique and extract from it what you want, only little bits of it, not all of it. Just go forward. There’s loads of different directions you can go. It’s a bit like a dictionary, you’ve got to watch that you don’t click onto another direction and you find yourself in a place where you didn’t start doing this. You do know what I’m talking about, yes. It’s wonderful, it’s just absolutely wonderful. So instead of thinking I wonder how to do that stitch, there was a particular, I do beading as well, there was a particular sort of beading stitch and I had a book showing you the technique and I could not work it out. I could not work it out. Well, eventually, I found a site on YouTube where this woman had it all very beautifully laid out, showing you exactly what to do and I got it. Then I went to do my own. So just that pair of hands. Some of them are absolutely awful, they’re talking about their dogs and their husbands, [58.59 unclear], Mexican music’s going on so you do notice those things and you have to filter the correct internet connection that suits you. So yeah, we are using it whatever some people say, we are using it, definitely.
R1: Interesting. Now, we’re conscious of time because it is about ten to one. There is one more thing that we would like to do with you if you’ll permit us. I think we can probably just stay where we are really, couldn’t we?
R2: Yeah.
R1: So don’t worry about packing up and things like that now, you can stay where you are.
R5: I don’t know how many cross-stitch…
R8: I think some of these are really nice.
R7: [59.39 unclear].
All: [59.38 all talking]
R7: …I started it obliterating with.
R8: I like your obliteration there.
R6: Yeah, if I can get it…
R7: I do need some bread [59.56 unclear]. And some people were using sort of loaned dart guns, so it looked one thing and…
R4: Just to go back to your question earlier with this, because I’m using variegated, I’m sort of thinking about like the way I want the colours to go a little bit and I’m trying to make sure that the stitches are nice and flat, but…
R8: Yeah.
R7: Yeah the [01.00.06 unclear].
R8: Yeah.
R5: It’s just a technical thing.
R4: Yeah, but the mechanics of it, certainly if I was doing something that wasn’t like this, it was just flat [01.00.13 unclear] for me going right, right then, I need to think about well get the ideas out of my head and I find it now really worse because you can kind of switch off and just pay a bit of attention to what you’re doing but then the rest of my brain just muddles away and has these ideas or sometimes I’ll do a thing and it’ll just start building a new idea for a new piece of work. I might, I just don’t have the time for that, but I…
R5: So you’re doing other things, as well?
R7: Well we had a good meeting with PR yesterday, so I think what we’re going to need is, what we’ve asked them to try and negotiate is that they make this and [01.00.47 unclear] and they do the mailshot.
R4: Um.
R3: He’s [01.00.41 unclear] teach his job anyway.
R4: No, no. I’ve got a, yeah, I don’t know what. I really would like to…
R5: [01.00.44 unclear].
R7: But if they create on that basis we then knit, so there’s apparently what we’re going to do.
R8: Is take everybody’s [01.00.57 unclear] and then not, you can’t get at them.
R4: Yeah, I’m an IT Project Manager, that’s my day job, and then I have two websites which are increasingly successful and it means there’s more work, and then I’ve got a girlfriend and then an allotment and a house and blah-blah-blah.
R8: So Justin seemed to be aware of that, so there’s this Jane Dawson. It wasn’t Sally actually. Do you know [01.01.07 unclear].
R4: One thing I’d like to do at some point down the line is to do some proper courses on those sorts of things. I’d quite like to learn Japanese embroidery, as well. That should just go [01.01.10 unclear].
All: [01.01.10 all talking].
R7: And actually she was really good. She came back to us with a list of things that we’d discussed straightway and said these are the things that they can try and negotiate and so on.
R5: Yeah, it is so precise, especially that which costs the earth.
R4: Yeah, and you have to have the proper…
R5: Very expensive.
All: [01.01.20 all talking].
R1: Right, this last exercise is erm based around something called Five Whys, I don’t know if anyone’s heard of Five Whys?
R5: Five which?
R7: Five what?
R1: Five Whys w-h-y-s. It was developed in Toyota in the 70s and it originally came out of trying to get to the heart of a problem or a fault somewhere by essentially asking five whys. And it’s sort of iterative so every time you ask a question you kind of drill down to the fundamental causes I think. We’re interested in using it because actually you can also help to understand people’s motivations behind things, reasons for doing things and, as I said at the start, we’re interested in getting a bit more understanding as to why people do the craft that you do, possibly do it in groups, possibly do it at home. So we’re going to do the Five Whys, two rounds of exercise we’re going to do and to give you an idea of how it works, Lizzy and I can quickly run through an example. So, my question to you, Lizzy, why do you exercise?
R9: And like I’ve just said to you, I don’t exercise. I’ve got my answers on a piece of paper.
R1: In a theoretical way.
R9: So why, [01.02.32 unclear] asked me why I exercise, and I’d say because it’s healthy.
R1: Because it’s healthy, okay. And then the next question then, question number two, goes like this: Why is that important?
R9: It raises my heart rate.
R1: Okay, and I’m going to ask you again, why is that important?
R9: I burn more calories.
R1: Okay. And again, why is burning more calories important?
R9: I want to lose weight.
R1: Okay, and why do you want to lose weight?
R9: Because there’s a social pressure for me to look fit.
R1: Okay.
R4: Bastards.
R1: So by taking that child-like approach of always asking why, actually if you keep asking why to previous answers you can start to drill down to sort of get to the crux of that and [01.03.15 unclear] to do something like that.
R2: What we’re going to do is we’ve actually got these sheets, and there’s a question on the top, you just write down your answer. You don’t have to share it with anybody else, it’s a totally personal thing. So we’ve got two questions.
R1: And they’re all anonymous.
R2: All anonymous, and you just fill them in as [01.03.30 unclear].
R1: So if everyone can make sure that they’ve got access to a pen, spread those out. Now, there are times where you might get to what you feel is kind of the real heart of the answer before the fifth question. So I’ll start adding these round.
R2: Are we doing all these questions first?
R1: Yeah, we’ll do these two first. Okay.
R7: What are we asking you for?
All: [01.03.50 all talking].
R1: No, no, no. This is your personal…this is totally personal. Confidential to you. I’ll give you that one. One for you. Jamie, can I [01.04.06 unclear].
R4: Thank you very much.
R1: Hopefully we’ve got enough.
R7: I don’t know if I’ve got a craft.
R5: You can see the value of your basic [01.04.21 unclear].
R3: I’ve got all you need, thank you.
R4: I mean I’ve got, this [01.04.22 unclear], you know, whenever I go travelling because I’ll always like take it if it’s on the plane or trains and stuff, and these are all the threads I’m currently using and have a pair of scissors and what not in there. So I’ve got, yours is obviously a more [01.04.36 unclear].
R5: This is just a handbag one.
R1: Has everybody got one? Everybody got one who needs one?
R4: Just as opposed to the brief [01.04.39 unclear] one.
R5: No, this is for make-up actually.
R7: I can’t remember.
R1: Has everybody got a pen?
R8: Yeah.
R1: Okay, so the first place, in the first sort of spread as you open at the top, should look like this, with the question on the top, why do you… and then write your craft there because obviously you’re around the table with us and most people are doing slightly different things. So if you just fill in there what your craft is these will, I mean we will collect these but they’re all anonymous in terms of no names on them or anything like that. But we are interested in your answers, but these are all be personal answers to you, okay? So the first question is why do you knit, crochet, do glasswork, whatever it is? So why do you do your whatever your craft is? What springs to mind? And then the next question, why is that important? So the answer that you gave to the question, what’s important about that? Why does that matter? So no right or wrong answers, so if you just can be as honest as you dare, if you can, and then move on to the next question, why is that important. So the answer to the previous question, you’ll then [01.06.54 unclear] what’s important about that, why does that matter.
R5: I didn’t do anything more ambitious than [01.07.23 unclear].
R1: Then asking a fourth time why is that important, and then the fifth time. Now if you don’t get to the fifth one, if you kind of run out of steam by then, that’s fine.
R4: I’m quite deep.
R1: You can sometimes get there quicker than five steps. So I’ll just give you a couple of minutes to just finish going through those.
R5: Acquiring new skills are important to me. That’s…
R4: Very good. [01.07.46 unclear] that’s what I mean. I’ve just seen so much I can see what is possible. I just never [01.07.54 unclear] bring my skills up yet. I’ll have to buy some embroidery.
R5: Push, push.
R4: Yeah, one day. I’ve got to get a few things out the way first. [01.08.07 unclear] back seat.
R5: Wooden neck syndrome. I can’t because if you’re robbing me.
R4: I can’t because of my [01.08.14 unclear].
R3: What’s happened with [01.08.16 unclear]?
R5: Sorry? [01.08.18 unclear] surfing with a wooden neck.
R3: Bloody hell, he did a thirty foot wave as well. So things still [01.08.25 unclear].
R5: That’s helped.
R4: Over here, yeah. Yeah, I’ve done a bit of needle felting myself and maybe a needle [01.08.31 unclear] version myself.
R3: Cheap habits.
R5: Who’s done the lovely [01.08.36 unclear] rose? That’s always the dream [01.08.37 unclear].
R1: While people are finishing those off I’ll come round with the next one. There’s only one more to do.
R4: Yeah, I really like that. That’s a really nice dress isn’t it?
R5: It’s [01.08.43 unclear].
R1: Excuse me.
R3: Oh, have we got another one there?
R1: Yeah, just one more.
R5: Look, I’m sewing here. You’re interrupting.
R1: Sorry, am I interrupting?
R4: Yeah. She’s [01.08.53 unclear].
R5: I’m nearly finished [01.08.54 unclear].
R1: Leave that on the table, we’ll collect them all at the end. That would be great.
R5: I’ve nearly finished my brooch.
R1: That’s all right.
R4: [01.09.01 unclear].
R1: Thank you.
R5: Oh, that one’s done. You need to find [01.09.10 unclear] to make the title. Who is entitled?
R4: Yeah, I mean, I’m not…yeah I’m going…
R5: Do as you’re told.
R4: Okay. Sorry. I don’t want to make it too tight because then I’ll put creases in it and I want it to be [01.09.22 unclear].
R5: Press it down.
R3: Maybe he doesn’t do press.
R4: It’s just being lazy. I do apologise. I’m always willing to take constructive feedback.
R5: You’d get it.
R4: Yeah, that’s it.
R1: Well, I can introduce this one and then leave…yeah leave people to fill them in. Is there anyone still working on the first one?
R7: Yeah.
R1: I’ll give you another minute, then.
R7: I could be here all day. No, that’s not okay. I’ll start something else.
R8: Are we allowed to do the next ones?
R6: Are we allowed to?
R3: I think I’ve got one.
R8: It’s blank, is it blank those?
R1: Okay, so if you haven’t quite finished that first one feel free to finish that before we move on to the next one or sort of round both up at the end. The next little paper is exactly the same, just the question is different, naturally. The question, delete as appropriate for you, so the question is either, why are you part of a crafting group? If you’re not part of a crafting group then the question is why. So why are you part of a crafting group or why aren’t you? And as before, you don’t need me to ask the same question four more times but why is it important, then move on to the next part.
R4: I’m not too sure [01.11.05 unclear] when it said why aren’t you part of a crafting group and I said because I don’t think there was any [01.11.09 unclear].
R11: Question one, all you need.
R4: I sent an email.
R3: It’s this damn paper. Is that any better?
R5: No, I’ll keep doing them.
R4: I said I love needle felting, why is that?
R3: Right.
R4: What?
R3: [01.12.20 unclear]
R4: Oh, okay.
R3: [01.12.23 unclear] that explains.
R4: Is she?
R5: Is she? She’s got another little dog.
R7: I have got one [01.12.29 unclear].
R5: [01.12.29 unclear] as well. Wonderful. That’s so easy.
R3: [01.12.34 unclear] enough.
R5: He’s so, just with a needle for her to do. It’s only about that width, a little wider than that, with a pink tiny chu-chu-chu. But you’ve got to have the [01.12.51 unclear]. Don’t have the needle to hold it and worry about that and so the needle [01.12.56 unclear].
R4: Okay.
R5: Safety first, safety first.
R4: It’s very satisfying, isn’t it?
R5: Have you told anybody to do it, or not?
R7: This is getting completely surreal.
R4: Not with felting, no.
R7: And a bit trite.
R6: It’s like being a mum again and my girls saying, “But why?”
R7: “Why?”
R6: “But why?”
R7: Why, because!
R6: Yeah. “Because it is, okay!”
R5: They look fantastic.
R4: Yeah. There’s a girl called Zoe Williams who’s an artist, she’s based in I want to say New York but she writes my feltie column on the site, called Felter Skelter. So she [01.13.29 unclear] felter.
R5: Oh, you’ve got yourself a column, as well?
R4: Yeah, yeah. We have all kinds of columns. So what we don’t do, we don’t do knitting, we don’t do clothes, but do machine embroidery and felting, quilting, hats we’ve got now.
R3: So which site is this?
R4: This is my Mr X Stitch website.
R3: Right, oh I’ll have a little look at it.
R4: So it’s got to be a straight [01.13.43 unclear]. Yeah, I mean with Felter Skelter it comes out once a month and she just features quality artists, but she herself is a fantastic needle felted artist. I had an exhibition at The Knitting Institute here in 2012 and I had, she did this rhino and it had just got loads of beading over it and then she also did the deer as well and she actually sold the deer head to someone through one of her shows.
R9: The library?
R4: So from my commission I’ve got a needle felty tentacle that’s on a little frame that come out of the wall in my Nan’s, you know, this is brilliant.
R8: Someone in our group, she did a deer head, did you see it?
R3: Yes.
R5: Wasn’t it good?
R3: Yes.
R5: Beautifully presented. Now I’m not into stuffed toys, never have been. Teddies and me don’t go together. And this [01.14.34 unclear] and of course it was done with different tweeds and checks.
R2: All right, thanks everyone. We’re going to wrap up now for people that have to leave then please feel free to go.
R7: I suppose you get to see your work.
R8: It’s difficult to bring [01.14.51 unclear].
R7: It is, isn’t it?
R8: Very messy.
R2: For people who have been stressing about the questions, don’t stress too much. It’s like my kids, when I was doing [01.14.55 practical] and you have to answer all these questions and my kids were just saying mum, it’s not even your [01.15.00 unclear].
R7: And breakable. Difficult to transport.
R6: Can you write me down your name and I can [01.15.02 unclear] buy your design.
R3: But if you just fill in however much of the questions you want to fill in, we are finished now, so thanks very much Fiona and Issy for [01.15.08 unclear].
R1: Well, thank you everyone for that. Thanks very much for your time.
R7: Thank you.
R2: When we’ve got the digital platform up and running I will give you all an email or email you all and I will ask you to have a look at the platform and just to give us some feedback on what you think it’s like. And Jamie has very kindly said that he’s happy for people to chat with him and have a look at his work afterwards.
R1: Build it.
R4: Oh yeah. I wish I’d brought more of it. I can run to the car and get some.
R2: Because he’s our special guest today. Thank you for being here as well.
R4: My pleasure.
R2: And thank you all very, very much for being here. It’s really, really brilliant. We’re hoping that some of you might be interested in getting involved in the project as it moves forward, either in terms of platform or other things as well. This isn’t the only thing that we… so we’re very keen to respond to how people think they might want to engage with the project.
R1: Do we have to be out by a particular time?
R2: No, I think we’re all right.
R8: I haven’t got a particular website for my work but if you just google me you’ll find some things there.
R6: Okay.
R2: And just say also, I forgot to mention at the beginning, but we’ve got, we’ve got the linked up with group in Birmingham, run by, well linked up with an organisation called Craft Space. So, if anyone doesn’t know Craft Space do Google them and have a look, they do really interesting things and work with a whole load of community groups in Birmingham.
R7: All right, my bird?
R6: Had to be something Cornish.
R7: Yeah.
R8: Oh that’s nice.
R7: It’s lovely.
R2: So this project’s linked up with Craft Space so there’s opportunities to sort of through the platform to link up with people up there as well. They’re going to be running a similar kind of co-design event there and then we’re also, through Craft Space, linked up with another group in Dublin who have been working at Rathfarnham Castle and that’s a project where they’ve been responding to this amazing building and making mainly paper, isn’t it, mainly cut paper pieces, really beautiful cut paperwork. They had an exhibition with that and they’re looking at how to take that work forward into pieces that they can sell sort of on a small production line, type, well not production line really, that kind of thing, anyway, so that they can actually make it into a kind of business that can bring in money to keep the group going and let them be more ambitious in terms of what they’re doing. So that group in particular are linking up with Katie and her colleague Justin at the FabLab in Falmouth, which Katie might want to say a little bit about just in terms of because it might be of interest to other people here.
R7: Okay. Well, my name’s Katie Bunnell and I run a small research group called Automatic who’ve been exploring craft and digital technologies for about ten years now and one of the things that has emerged from our research group is a kind of FabLab, I don’t know if people have heard of them? It’s a digital fabrication lab there, they’re a kind of international, a global network now of small workshops which are for community that contain a variety of digital technology, so things like laser cutters and plotters and milling machines and things that people have DIYd themselves and small-scale rapid post typing, as well as a bit of electronics and that kind of technology. And so we’ve got one now at Falmouth University and it’s open for use by anybody who wants to come and have a go. So I think what we’re looking at with the group in…where are they, in Dublin, in this castle, they’ve done a lot of paper-cutting so we’re looking at ways that we can work with them to develop the kinds of things that they’ve done into more kind of design product using the kind of capabilities of the technology. So, because they’re doing lots of paper cutting we’re looking maybe at laser cutting and translating that into other materials and things like that because…
R2: Well designing tools so that they might design their own tools.
R7: Or tools, yeah, so you could use the laser cutter for cutting into a material that you use as a stamp, so you can use it as a kind of print process or a stencil for printing through or painting through all that kind of thing.
R3: So, presumably all this lot are laser cut, are they?
R7: Those ones are, yeah.
R7: Yeah. I think they’re interested in developing their community practice into something that’s a bit more economically sustainable. Is that right, Fiona?
R2: Yeah. So they’re coming sort of with a particular aim in mind, really, to the project. So the idea is to link them up with a bit of FabLab and then sort of record that story I suppose of how that [01.19.37 unclear].
R7: If anybody here wants to use the lab, it’s called Makerow, and you can find it online that Maker Now, Ma-kernow, so it’s kind of got that Cornish thing in it, and it’s open, completely open on a Friday. Anybody can come along or you could book in and you can get an induction on any of the pieces of kit. There’s some lovely technicians who work in there are really friendly and nice.
R5: Who is that?
R6: That’s at Trumo?
R5: Trumo.
R7: Trumo, yeah, it’s in the design centre.
R3: And how much does it cost?
R7: It’s free to go on a Friday. Anybody can have a go and you can get inductions onto these pieces of kit, on the basis that you then share your skills with other people and your ideas. So it’s a sort of open community idea. And actually, it’s giving people tools that previously were only available in university research units or big engineering companies, now they’re putting those kind of technologies into everybody’s hands which enables kind of all sorts of capability that goes out through the internet. Jamie was saying how you can then exchange ideas and swap even design files with people, use other people’s design files and make them into something else. And so there’s a whole community around that use of the digital in that context.
R10: What time?
R7: On a Friday?
R10: Yeah.
R7: Well you need to, if you go to the website you can book in a session to go and meet, Justin Marshall is the name of the guy who runs it.
R2: Well I’ve got all of your email, I think, so I can email you all a link.
R7: Yeah.
R2: Yeah, that’d be good. And also, in addition, we’ve got Hannah who is working with embroidery hand and digital in all forms and is also kind of keen to liaise with people, I think, particularly around that craft forms and forms of skill, and think about how again that we might move forward through shared interests.
R8: Yes. Yeah, yeah.
R2: In terms of making and skill sharing.
R8: Yeah, definitely skill sharing around anything to do with embroidery, I think, and stitch.
R10: So are you thinking of like having a [01.21.45 forum] or a group or something like that?
R8: I don’t know yet, actually.
R10: Because that will be great.
R8: Yeah, it’s still sort of bouncing ideas around at the moment, yeah.
R2: I think that’s probably why this idea of bringing people together now is thinking what different people’s interests are and, you know, the website idea is one thing that came out of the previous project that we were open to all different types of sharing and collaborating and the idea is that it comes from the group of people and your interests and where you want to go and how that might work with other people here, how people can link up, yeah.
R9: Is this a one-off or is this something that will happen again, this [01.22.21 unclear]?
R2: Well, at the moment, we just thought about it in terms of then we were going to do one here and then one in Birmingham, but there’s no reason why we couldn’t, you know, have another one if people are interested and that’s what they’d be interested in doing, that’s certainly something that…
R6: It’s really more about us responding to what people want than us saying this is what we’ve got, do you want to be involved in it. It’s much more if you want to do something then we’ll set it up.
R2: But also, part of the project is really thinking that the people involved in it takes it forward in whatever ways they want. So we just saw this as a starting point for different connections being made, different skills being shared and then that can go forward in different ways and we can help with that so do let us know what, I mean it’s been a lovely morning. I’ve really enjoyed it. And what we’re particularly interested in, or one of the things that came to me I think, was how when everyone was making and they were talking, people just they talk in a different, you know, there’s this real feeling of shared communication, I think, when people are making things and we always notice this that when people are making they talk differently.
R9: It’s nice to see everybody kind of doing different things, as well, because I guess a lot of you that are in groups, you’re going and you’re all doing the same thing at the same time, so…
R3: To a certain extent.
R9: To a certain extent, yeah. So it’s nice to see a different kind of range of different things going on.
R2: If the idea of some kind of group going forward for people who are interested and you just…what are your thoughts about that?
R9: Yeah, I would be because I don’t think it’s quite the same with glass. You don’t all sit together and you’re generally off, banging at something, or whatever, yeah. It’s quite different so.
R7: Yeah, ceramics is a bit like that as well.
R9: Yeah. I quite like, I would like it personally, to see people again. I also feel like I’ve only kind of mingled with this end of the table, so it takes me longer, obviously, my social skills are rubbish.
R4: There is some serious stuff going around on this end.
R9: And I feel the lack [01.24.23 unclear].
R5: I was going dum, dum.
R4: Yeah.
R2: Too rude, huh? We don’t know who was being rude down this end but it was quite a good ruse, so.
R8: Edith.
R9: We’ve got [01.24.33 unclear].
R11: Yeah, we’re groovy down here on the other end.
R2: And we’ve got competitive thinking now.
R11: Yeah, which is the cool end of the table? We’re on the kiddy table down here.
R9: Yeah, I noticed that’s really cool. That’s the adult table up there. We’re just finger painting their own snot now.
R2: On that note, thank you so much everyone for coming. It’s been the most enjoyable morning. We’ve had an absolutely lovely time and here we are mid-January and it’s just brought a bit of light onto the weekends for me, anyway. I don’t know about anyone else. And do take some doggie bags and stuff otherwise we… and hopefully look forward to seeing you all again in one way or another.
R1: Jamie, do you want the table cleared to put anything out on it or…?
R4: Do you know what I’m a bit crap because I’ve left all my stuff in my car which is a bit useless. There’s people here with more talent than me.
All: [01.25.50 all talking]
R9: Yeah. I didn’t know about it.
R7: No, it’s fairly new, it’s only just really started off, actually so yeah, I haven’t had much to do with it so I’m not too sure what type of projects that they’ve got going on at the moment or whatever.
R9: But it is mainly…there’s no textile things…
R10: All right. Because I will [01.26.25 unclear] where you can scan images [01.26.34 unclear] and I was just wondering if something like that, for example, could be in a way possible.
R8: [01.26.52 unclear] yeah, I know it’s interesting that they, there’s only one that they did it without not for the exclusivity but all very much about the laser cutter [01.27.05 unclear].
R10: Yeah, yeah.
R8: And all those more sort of 3D craft tools [01.27.12 unclear]. It’s about really boring things like health and safety and [01.27.25 unclear].

[End of recording]

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