Feature: Live your life doing what you enjoy with Rothbury Creates

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The turning point in life is realising that it is ‘not worth spending your life doing something you can’t enjoy.’

Having grown up in Lesotho, South Africa after her two British, trained potter parents moved there to run a pottery studio for 10 years before Sarah was born, she spent her childhood until the age of 17 in South Africa. With wonderful early memories of playing in the grounds of the pottery studio, surrounded by people working with clay every day (that she ensures me the workers must think less fondly on than she as her and her sister spent their days pestering and getting in the way while they made beautiful things!) her childhood was filled with creativity.

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When Sarah grew up (or at least tried! as she likes to say), she began working as a Design Technology teacher in Blackburn. While Sarah loved teaching the kids, she found the bureaucracy of the job was stifling both their creativity and her own. With the arrival of her own child these feelings were amplified and Sarah found herself realising there is no point spending your life doing something you don’t enjoy. This is such a crucial point to become aware of, that moment when you realise there is no point going through life unhappy. We give up so much of our time to work; it’s a necessity so most of us just do what we have to do. We spend most of our week traveling to, and being at work; leaving our partners, our kids, our friends and family to be at work. While working is a necessity for most of us that doesn’t mean that we should be giving up such a large part of our lives to spend every day hating our jobs, unhappy and stressed. By finding your place and your passion, you’re no longer sacrificing every day. You go to work for yourself, not for necessity- because you love what you do, not just because of the money. Of course financial stability is vital and does have to be taken into consideration, but we also have to remember it’s not all about making the most money. Find your passion and find a way to do what you love. Whether that’s working for yourself or working for someone else, there’s always a way of finding your passion and working in something you enjoy.

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When Sarah had this realisation, she approached her parents to explain how much she was struggling in this system that did not put the kids first. Sarah’s dad, Graham Taylor (As seen in the first series of the BBC Great British Throw Down and other TV programs) runs the very successful ceramic replica business: Potted History. As Sarah explained her concerns, she joked about becoming her father’s apprentice. He needed the help due to the success of the business and Sarah needed a new job, she quit teaching and never looked back having made what Sarah refers to as the ‘best decision EVER!’

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Sarah left her job, moved the family to Northumberland and began learning everything she could from her dad. By joining her father and learning his skills, Sarah was able to add the pottery classes that Graham had always wanted to be able to offer to the business. Now responsible for creating some replicas sold in museums, shops and private individuals across the world and running the workshops, Sarah’s clearly come such a long way.

The most incredible part of Sarah’s work is her approach to the workshops. They do not run classes on a strict curriculum of teaching the way many classes do, but focus on the freedom to create. After teaching the basic skills of hand building and wheel throwing, they then work individually with the students to help them produce something they can be personally proud of. Sarah explained to me that this way of teaching requires far more work for the studio, as projects can range so vastly. Her example: that projects could range from ‘a tea set for a teddy bears picnic, to a memorial plaque for a loved one lost, to a green man water fountain’ shows there really are no limits. At Rothbury Creates, it’s clear they place the importance on their customers and their individual needs. The concept that someone who has never made ceramics before can go learn the basics and make something so personal to them is wonderful. Imagine wanting a bespoke memorial plaque for a lost loved one, that rather than commissioning to have done by another creative individual or mass company, you made it with your very own hands.

They have such a wonderful outlook on creativity at Rothbury creates, truly believing that everyone can create when given the freedom and encouragement for ‘pure creativity’. Sarah says ‘We love people of all ages in the workshop, it is brilliant to have a family were 3 generations can all sit around a table and all create together. Playing with clay really is fun for all ages.’

If you’d like more information about this wonderfully creative and passionate ceramics company then check out their website https://rothburycreates.co.uk/ or facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RothburyCreates/

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If it’s difficult it’s worthwhile…

I was recently asked to write a feature about A Thousand Yellow Daisies for an up and coming new site (Serious About Social) dedicated to being the one stop for crafters looking for advice, ideas and opportunities.

I was asked to write about the business, my journey, what i’ve learnt so far and where I aim to be. This seemed like such a normal task, it should be easy and straight forward and full of positivity right? Wrong…in reality being asked to talk openly and honestly about my journey was far more complicated. I would love to be able to say I’m one of those budding entrepreneurs who merrily jumped into business and made my first million age 21 (are any of those actually genuine? If so what am I missing!?). Or that I was one of those creatives who started a business out of nothing and 6 months in is making an amazing turn over, has quit their day job and continuing to rapidly expand, but i’m not. Not yet at least.

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It’s not been an easy journey, but having started to talk to other creatives for my new feature pieces (coming every Friday) and I’ve realised it’s not just me! My whole process of figuring out what I wanted to do, then starting this business has been problem solving and overcoming obstacles. At times it even had me wondering whether this was the universe’s way of telling me it wasn’t to be. What I eventually realised was it was telling me that something wasn’t right. Not that I should give up, but that I should keep trying and keep changing to find what does work. Having spoken to so many other creatives and hearing their stories and challenges, it’s reassuring to know this is how most new creative business owners feel in the initial stages.

I’m still working it out, trialling different shops and galleries around the UK to work out which ones and which areas are right for my products but I have now worked out what I want from this venture. I now have a clearer picture of what I want and where I want to be than ever. While it’s a slow process and there were times I wondered what I’d ever been thinking taking this on, I’m so glad I have and that i’m still giving it a shot. Every day gets better and gets more fun, eventually I know I’ll get it right and be so glad I never gave in.

 

Now we have a brand new range of products launched on Etsy and being sold in 3 stores as of this coming month, we’re offering personalisation and even more freelance graphic design services… We’re blogging more, offering freelance creative blog writing, and offering social media management services!..

…With even more exciting updates coming soon! We’re finally on our way, and soon I’m sure I’ll be able to look back and need to remind myself why it was once so difficult!

To enquire about a service (Guest blog for your site, Graphic design project, Personalised Design Commission or Social Media Management services ) please get in touch via our Facebook  or via email at Hello@athousandyellowdaisies.co.uk

 

 

DIY- Space themed kids costume

A friend of mine has a daughter at school where they are celebrating space day next week with fancy dress. Fancy dress days for kids are always a difficult decision, do you buy in, which is usually an expensive solution and one that only gets used once (or a couple times if you’re lucky!), or create a DIY option is time consuming and involves skill and materials (often working out not much cheaper than a bought solution!).

For space day there were two options, buy an astronaut costume online or after having researched ideas create a 3D planet top. While the 3D option looked amazing and so much fun, my friend is not the creative sort. So I thought I’d give it a go knowing that I had all the materials I’d need at home and a (fairly) free weekend.

So so here it is, how to make a DIY planet sash to be used with a plain black outfit or to complement any space themed costume!

Starting out with polystyrene balls of varying sizes and ink, each ball was rolled in and sponge painted with black ink. The one major issue with trying to ink polystyrene is it tried to absorb the ink, but sponging the ink on works pretty well and pretty easily!

 

Once they were entirely black it’s a matter of a waiting game until this layer has dried. You can move on to the next step before its dry but remember the more you touch it the more the ink ends up on you and not the project! If you can be patient its much better to let this layer dry at least partially.

Now comes the fun part! Using a sponge again (and this time it definitely needs to be a sponge!) you’re going to add the colours. I used acrylic ink here as it dries fast and is pretty amenable. Starting with white paint, sponge on areas of speckled paint. This looks the most convincing when creating a strong patch of white using thick paint and slowly becoming lighter and more speckled as it disperses.

Once they had all been given speckled areas of white and had a few minutes to dry, I started playing with colour. You can’t really go too wrong with the choice of colours at this point. Colours like dark blues and purples are great as they give more depth to the darkness and a bit of a shimmer while being subtle. Then the light bright colours give a wonderful sparkle to your project, from lime greens to florescent pinks there really is no bad option.

The colours were added much more gently than the white, giving small hints of colour and more speckled looks than the white.

The great thing about this project is you really can’t go wrong. Add too much white? No problem just sponge over some more black and you’ve toned it back down. Add too much colour? No problem, just add a light layer of white and you’re in the clear! Whether you need to tone down what you’ve done or re-do an area you can slowly just add layers until you have the final look you want.

Once these had dried, I added a little bit of sparkle to make them just a little more special! With the right speckling you don’t need any glitz for these to look magical and sparkly but a bit of added glitz never did anyone any harm! So using a silver glitter spray, I carefully spritzed a few sprays to each planet.

A few minutes for the glitter to dry and it was time to turn these planets into a sash.

Taking plain string, I poured a little black ink into a shallow pot, bunched up the string, dunked it in and ran it through the ink. Making sure it was fully covered in ink I left the string to dry while I started on the holes.

I used a basic wooden skewer like you can find in most discount shops and supermarkets to pierce the holes. As I used quite large polystyrene balls so a long skewer was the best option here. For smaller polystyrene balls any thin but sharp tool will do the trick.

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Pierce the ball straight through from one side to the other. Use a large needle and tie the string through the needle. Place the needle in the hole and using the skewer, push the needle straight through and out the other side. Once you have done this to every planet you can move them around on the string to be spread out as you want.

To finish off, tie the string at the right place to suit the length needed and voila! You have a planet sash perfect for any space themed fancy dress!

 

Creative Space

I’ve been asked a few times now about my creative space and been asked for photos of where I work. I have a studio (currently a prepped desk and a room full of unpacked boxes in our new apartment) but I do not solely work in this studio. I have always found working at a white desk in a university studio, a computer desk in the library or a desk in my studio to only release a certain amount of creativity. While there are great benefits to having a specified work area, a set up desk and work room, there are also some great benefits to flexible working.

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This is one of the biggest benefits of working for yourself. In a work environment you are expected to work in their office or studio, the most flexibility often being potentially hot-desking. By working for yourself, it gives so much more flexibility. Depending on your work, your equipment needs and your work style, the options are expansive. From hiring desks, renting studios or working with someone else, working at home or local cafe the options just keep coming. By having a set work space you will always have somewhere ready to work where you know you have all your equipment ready and can be productive and creative. But the option of flexi-working ensures you stay inspired and creative rather than finding you get stale working within the same 4 walls day in day out.

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I work where I can, where I feel inspired and creative. Using a home studio as my consistent and permanent base, I then adapt based on my work. This article for instance is being written on a commute, while my thank you notes, postcards and marketing are written in a cafe. During the summer months you’ll find me sat in local parks and arboretums under a tree with my sketchbook, and the winter months cosy in a local cafe or my living room with a hot chocolate and drawing implements. So when asked where I work, what do I say? My studio? Well that is true but for someone who works most hours you won’t find me in my studio as often as you would expect. But as a creative there really is no better way to work, stay inspired and creative. You need to see the world, experience new things and new environments for the creativity to keep flowing.

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Blogging Beginnings

Blogging is a fantastic tool, both for business and personal use. However it is a commitment that many put to the bottom of the pile to focus on social media platforms that connect with customers easily and take less set up and management time.

Recently I wrote an article for Print and Press about London Fashion Week. It was a tight deadline, and the first time I’d written for a blog in over a year. While it was difficult, took at least 5 edits and hours of research, It reminded me of exactly why I used to blog. There is something hugely satisfying about writing for a blog, and something exciting about sharing expertise, inspiration or your own work with an audience.

I started A Thousand Yellow Daisies to be able to do what  I love. Don’t get me wrong, as a start up there is a lot of stuff that needs to be done that I do not love. However, it’s the bits like designing, like blogging that keep me going when it gets difficult, when it gets too stressful or when I’m sat doing accounts and all the other things I never want to do! Now that I’ve blogged again, there’s no turning back! So here starts the beginning of the A Thousand Yellow Daisies blog.

I can’t wait to start sharing more about what we do at A Thousand Yellow Daisies, as well as start up and design information with you all soon!