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Useful Parallels

A cross disciplinary event aimed at 2nd year Ceramic Students and based on the premise that just as foreign travel expands the understanding of home, so an insight into other disciplines can enhance makers’ understanding of their own practice.

Clay College was founded 2 years ago by Lisa Hammond in Middleport Factory, Stoke on Trent to address a need for thorough skills based training in ceramics, now missing in major BA courses. The Guild was impressed with this initiative and wanted to welcome these students with a view to building an ongoing relationship.

Students from ceramics courses in four colleges (Clay College, Camberwell, Farnham and CSM) spent a day at the Guild, where a dozen Guild members had set up demonstration ‘stations’ with tools, equipment, and materials. In the morning, students were free to move from station to station, talking to the demonstrators, handling tools and having a go. Students then signed up for one particular discipline in the afternoon session, to experience it in slightly greater depth, and to discuss and discover parallels, differences and comparable problems, in a two-hour workshop.

The opportunity for such interactions is greater at the bigger multi-disciplinary colleges where there is easy contact between departments, so this day was particularly aimed at Clay College which is a single-discipline institution. An additional goal for the day was for students to compare notes and encourage professional networking between students at different colleges and raise awareness about the interconnectedness of various crafts as well as their own career progression.

Demonstrators were chosen for their experience of demonstrating and their commitment to and engagement with their craft. The event’s focus was less on teaching and demonstrating literal different disciplines but more about approaches to materials and ways of thinking . Feedback from all students indicated that not only was the purpose of the day well understood and appreciated, but also thoroughly enjoyed. This is evident from the quotes below.


I saw knitting and crochet as a very technical, pattern-based practice. Today I was introduced to a more organic approach to these materials and techniques that is closer to drawing. This will inform my practice for ever!
Hannah Staber UCA Farnham Textiles/Knit

I loved Bridget Bailey’s analogies - she was so approachable, friendly and knowledgeable
Helen Bugg (UCA Farnham) Millinery

Using a reduction method with greater precision. Clay is more forgiving
Gayi Sooria CSM Stone Carving

The atmosphere was wonderfully intense but relaxed provoking an enormous amount of food for thought...principles that give coherence to all these activities - beyond speech or writing
Gunter Kress University College London/Institute of Education

I learned how to add life to a piece through shaping and stretching the limit of the material
Clover Li (guest)Millinery

Working with Rachael Matthews was a real revelation...learning about crochet & the creative possibilities of shape...I was amazed by the technique…
Nicky O’Donnell CSM Textiles/Crochet

Working in leather was so much more immediate than I realised. The textures and range of different quality leathers is amazing and the fantastic colours of the vegetable dyes. It was all very inspiring
Manda Payne, Clay College Stoke on Trent, Leather