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From time to time we will post articles about our courses and events and links to things that we think will interest you.


Please feel free to leave us a comment or ask us a question.

By Janet, May 28 2013 12:56PM

We held an open garden and secret craft fair in 2012 at our home in Loughborough, Leicestershire as a launch party for The Refectory Table. A year later the garden was listed in the esteemed National Gardens Scheme – known to many as the ‘Yellow Book’.

We opened the garden again with the NGS in June 2013 and held another Secret Craft Fair. The artists included – Helen Hallows, Craig Fellows, Helen Rhodes, Barry Bulsara, The Apothecary Room and Jennie McCall.

There were some curious things happening in the shed - Martin Currie, Intergalactic Master at Arms presented short educational talks on types, care of, and the dangers of Rayguns on Saturday. On Sunday Maxine Greer put her Synchronised Swimming Peg Doll display team through their paces and turned the shed into a bed-sheet cinema for the premiere of her stop motion animation Peg Tango.

You can read more about the whole weekend on Janet's blog the secateur.

By Janet, Apr 23 2013 12:58PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photography Tas Kyprianou

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By Janet, Mar 13 2013 01:03PM

Earlier this month 18 artists, makers and creative business owners travelled via train, taxi and sat nav to Northamptonshire to take part in our Creative Business Day.

This was the first time we’d taken The Refectory Table ‘on the road’. The tickets sold out a week before the event and people travelled from across the country – including Liverpool, Worcestershire, London, Camarthenshire and Leicestershire for the day.

Our delegates were delighted and surprised by the venue – a converted Water Tower with fabulous contemporary art and architectural features. The Water Tower is the home of Rosalind Stoddart and is perfectly compatible with the ethos and approach we take to our workshop days at The Refectory Table – relaxed, friendly, welcoming and creative.

During the day the group explored four key topics - the creative business mindset - the factors that are common to the most successful creative businesses; a lively session to help think about new products and customers; Internet marketing, and tell your story - a session on how to write and talk about your work. Everyone went home with a personal action plan having made a commitment to work on new developments they had identified during the day.

The sun shone so we were all able to have lunch outside; our participants also welcomed the mid-afternoon cake break before they went into their final session.

At the end of the event people left tired, but full of energy and ideas for their creative businesses and practice.

We're planning more road trips to interesting places. If you'd like to be among the first to hear about them follow us on Twitter or sign up for our email newsletter.

Here’s some of the great feedback from the day, thank you everyone, it was a pleasure meeting you:

The course was very inspiring & motivating. A lovely relaxed feel. Enjoyable.

Katy McDonald, Printmaker Read Katy's blog about the event

A very worthwhile event – definitely worth the travel & expense. By mid-morning the journey from Liverpool was already worth it. Thank you.

Elaine Jenkins, Jeweller

Lovely open venue, friendly people and lovely lunch and especially cake thanks!

Karen Slade, Historical Crafts

Challenging, stimulating, stretching.

Jo Roberts, Visual artist

Worthwhile, informative, friendly, inspiring. Lovely hosts, delicious lunch, great venue.

Josephine Gomersall, Designer Maker

Excellent – inspiring environment, light airy spaces, beautiful outdoor access, great food.

Patricia Taylor, Textiles

Beautiful venue, very scenic. Friendly and accommodating. Food was fresh and yummy!

Vicki Collins, Designer Maker

A great value day of exploring what your creative business is/can be. GO ON IT!

Lizzie Holt, Maker

Welcoming, friendly & very tasty!

Melanie Johns, Silversmith

Great for business development.

Kate Chell, Jeweller

You can read more about the Water Tower in the previous post.

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