UK Handmade Magazine Winter 2013

Page 25

What do you want to gain? Theoretical knowledge? Practical skills? Sometimes, it can be more tangential. As ceramicist Kath Bonson notes, “For me, the main advantage of having done a full length BA (Hons) in Fine Art is the confidence that it gives me when approaching galleries or art shows; while there are many superb artists and crafters out there without degrees, somehow a good degree seems to give an added ‘cachet’ to the work. We were also taught to use the ‘art speak’ that helps with applications and to be more analytical about our work.” What works best for you? How do you learn best? Would it suit you better to work through the material in your own time at your own speed or would you prefer a more structured or face-to-face, tutor-led approach? Kate Dew-Martin, of observes, “Though online and distance learning has its place, I think a great deal of the pleasure in learning craft skills comes through spending time with an experienced tutor, trying out techniques together, experimenting and repeating, and often with a group.” For Kath Bonson, the most effective way of learning is “to research and then experiment. I browse all sorts of random sites on the internet and read magazines and books with technical

information and, with that information tucked away at the back of my brain, I go into the studio and ‘play’! Sometimes an idea will work, other times not - or at least, not quite as I hoped – but, each time I try something, I will analyse it and try to learn from it, bearing in mind the technical information.” • How much time do you have to learn? For example, not only for the course itself, but for any pre-study or homework? • Is the learning somewhere convenient for you and at a time that suits you? After a long day at work, for example, it can be difficult to arrive on a course on time and fully focused, particularly if the course runs for a number of weeks. Finding ways to upgrade your skills As noted, the internet offers an amazing choice. Sites such as have hundreds of courses from which to choose from, and online reviews give you an idea of what to expect. There are relatively new crafts such as up-cycling and metal clay jewellery, and those that rely on tools and techniques that have been in use for centuries, such as bodging and forging. Other useful sources of learning about heritage crafts are the relevant craft guilds and associations.

Winter 2013 | ukhandmade |


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