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As a result of the pandemic, it was especially challenging trying to find a new job, particularly as a young adult and even more so in the creative industry. Several of my friends had been experiencing the same issues, so they recommended I look into the government’s newly introduced kickstart schemes, which is where I came across this job working as a studio assistant for Nicky Edmunds at Insideout and Habulous Ceramics. And, well, I think you can guess what happened as I’m writing this blogpost!
Although I previously mentioned the term ‘creative industry’, working for Nicky and Paul is far from that monotonous, artificial industry feel that unfortunately seems to take over the ethos of so many work environments. The studio itself is based on Dartmoor, which I find a particularly relaxing environment; the surroundings are peaceful, only broken by birdsong. Being a creative and someone who has suffered with mental health, I believe your working environment should be inspiring and good for the mind to be able to work the most productively. The business really focuses on handmade craft, sustainability and fairness which I think is so important. As an employee, this gives my work meaning, and, as an artist with my own small business, it is something I understand and want to be a part of and help grow. Each piece that is made in the studio is totally unique due to its handmade nature and I love how that therefore avoids the repetitive, manufactured process and product outcomes so many large-scale retail companies have.
During the first couple of weeks, Nicky has been training me in ceramics. Although I haven’t worked with clay before, I have learnt a great deal and have already been busy making little hanging pinch pots and earrings. The process is therapeutic, but also rewarding when seeing a successful outcome. What I didn’t realise before assisting Nicky in the studio is just how much time and care goes into each individual process for a ceramic piece - and that not everything is always successful! First, the pieces are either thrown on the wheel or hand-pinched, left to dry, then sometimes bisque fired before being individually glazed or hand-illustrated and then fired for a final time. After the days of work, we open the kiln to reveal the results - as the kiln is externally made from steel, we don’t actually know what the final pieces look like until the firing is finished. Any pieces that need a touch up have to then be individually cared for once more. It’s all these different, long processes which make me admire and love the job. That’s how each piece is unique; the hard work and care that goes into them that no machine could ever replicate.
As well as working practically in the studio, I have also helped behind the scenes on the Insideout and Habulous websites in the office: writing product descriptions, blogposts, assisting with the photography of products and learning the marketing and sales of goods (whilst being regularly greeted by the residents Libby the dog and Charlie the cat). I equally enjoy this part of the job as it has not only taught me the alternative side to a creative business, but it also allows me to vary what I do during the day which I find is key for keeping my mind focused.
So far it has been a truly eye-opening experience, working with a fantastic team. I can’t wait to learn even more and share my experiences with you.