Posted in Craft kits, Gift ideas and Personal stories/journeys/interviews/tutors’ stories.
A Maker destined to make you smile:
Nestled just outside the rural village of Hepworth, on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, you will find a modern, spacious and bright studio. The owner of this studio is the lovely Maker who goes by the name of Jo.
Every student that attends Jo's workshops, or receives her top quality sculpture kits, are thrilled by the results they can achieve and by the quality of the service they receive from Jo.
We are thrilled to introduce you to Jo and her studio in this blog, we hope it inspires you to find a new creative passion and maybe laugh along the way, there is a story about a goat that really made us giggle...
The lovely Jo enjoying a cuppa with her creations!
Q1. When did you start teaching workshops?
I’ve been teaching workshops in different genres for decades so feel very much at home with the whole process. The sculpting workshops have been running since mid 2019 and I’m constantly enhancing and evolving the experience for my lovely guests.
A beautifully equipped, countryside studio
Q2. Tell us about your workshop space/ surroundings.
We live in a very rural and beautiful location with over 3 acres of grounds. Andy, my husband, built me my studio which is nestled in trees, so it’s very peaceful. The studio is 30 sq mtrs with lots of huge windows down to the ground so you feel you are working outside. There are two large glass sliding doors to allow plenty of fresh air. For extra hot or cold days, I have air conditioning so it’s very adaptable.
I have a large bird feeder just outside the studio which attracts a multitude of birds, which fascinate my guests. We are also planning a water feature which will hopefully be in by winter 2021.
I’m an ‘early bird’ and my favourite time in the studio is at dawn when there’s not a sound apart from the birds waking up. It’s a very special space and I’m incredibly lucky to have it.
Jo has ensured there is space for social distancing
Q3. Tell us about the variety of courses on offer?
My main courses are in sculpture. I run one day hare sculpture workshops where you can create your own sitting, running or leaping hare with a gilt bronze finish. This workshop has evolved over time and the day is broken down into bite size sections of building the hare with me guiding all the way. I’ve yet to have anyone leave without a fabulous hare sculpture they have made themselves. The day is absorbing and bags of fun!
The two day sculpture workshops are there for people to make larger pieces. Subject matter for the sculptures could be chosen from photos of previous work made or photos of subject matter can be emailed to me. Andy and I then assess it for ‘feasibility’ over 2 days and what welding/armature work is needed to make it ready for the workshop. We have enormous fun on these workshops and guests are always amazed at what they achieve.
I have also created kits for on-line purchase to make at home. The kits came from guest demand at workshops when they asked to take components home to continue making further sculptures. Covid lockdowns gave me the time to make detailed instruction videos and develop the kit contents (I just loved this bit!!). I have been amazed at how well the kits have taken off and am constantly overwhelmed by the lovely photos and positive emails I receive back.
Students always have fun on Jo's workshops
Q4. Please tell us about your team.
I have always had a passion for sculpture – I remember when I was about 12 making an elephant out of a concrete block using just a rasp. I’m not sure who was more shocked – myself at actually making it – or my Mum on seeing the fine layer of concrete dust over the whole of the kitchen. However, I did not end up with any creative career due to sensible life getting in the way. Over the years I’ve had hobby businesses, including developing and selling one of the first ‘Baby Hands & Feet’ Casting kits (which actually sold in the London National Portrait Gallery shop!). It was not until a few years ago that I was able to focus more time on my art.
Andy, my very patient husband, is the business’s welder, making the base stands for the workshops and kits. We collaborate over the two day workshop ideas that are sent in. As nearly all the sculptures are destined for outside, Andy will look at stability aspects and what steel & welding is needed. I will look at them for ‘doability’ in two days and develop a work plan. Andy and I also work together to prepare materials for workshops & kits – cutting armature wire, bagging up clay, pulling together components etc.
Finally Tula, Mia & Olive. The muses for my ‘sleeping cat’ and ‘faithful dog’ sculpture kits! Tula & Mia are our Cockapoo dogs, who are pampered by guests and wander into the studio from time to time. Olive, our cat, is a bit more aloof, but often will end up sleeping in an open handbag!