The person behind CracktPotJo
Those that know me would say that CracktpotJo is very fitting to describe me. They say it with fondness, well at least I think they do. However, a little bit about me, well a potted history at least and how I got to being me today is in order so here goes….
Welcome to my website! It's been a long time coming. Having been told from a young age that I was good with my hands I sometimes took this as a kind way of distracting my lack of talent in maths or spelling. What I now know is that when I was making things it transformed me into a comfortable bubble where I didn't have to keep up with everyone else or impress folk.
Fortunately for me I went to a Quaker boarding school which had an ethos of encouraging and valuing craft, and all the creative arts, as strongly as academia. From there I went to catering college which took me to a world of restaurants, kitchens and London. Whilst working my way through my early 20’s with gusto my making was on the back burner but I do remember the need for art galleries and museums to settle my mind now and then. Taking time out with my boyfriend at the time we travelled to Israel working on a Moshav and Kibbutz to fund more travelling in Europe and Egypt. Again, very little creating or making, well in the traditional sense at least but travel opened my eyes to different cultures, colours and traditions. I often referred to my travelling time as my university as being good with my hands the real thing had not been an option.
It was when I was married and at home with my children that making things really came to the fore. I loved being an at home mum but needed my time in my creative bubble to settle my mind and be…..alone. I upcycled furniture, renovated a small terraced house (with help), took pottery classes, stencilled….everything that didn't move and took up my tapestry work, again. When my eldest was at nursery and my youngest not yet with us I started to make papier mache objects from bowls to badges to wall plaques. I sold some and this helped not only financially but mentally. During this time I made a large urn...more about that later.
Moving to Wales and living in cottages with some land I turned my hand to gardening and although gardening was enjoyable it was what I would sometimes find when digging that really animated me. Past inhabitants of the house did not have an easy way to dispose of their rubbish so as well as making do and mending, they would bury rubbish in the garden. This is how when digging potatoes or preparing a seed bed, a beautiful shard of Victorian pottery or half a teacup would suddenly appear. My reaction each time was the same, I think, to those who panned for gold in the gold rush. A rush of excitement followed by an overwhelming greed to find more. I would firstly put the shard in my pocket while I carried on digging, then it would be placed in a little bowl I had in the greenhouse and eventually this little gem would find its way to my boot room. In this room sat my big papier-mache urn I had made more than a decade before. One day I decided to stick each shard I found, still dirty often, onto the urn and over the years its surface would be covered in bits of beautiful pot. This urn moved with me at every turning point in my life and sat there quietly as if to say “this is what makes you happy”.
During this time my husband encouraged me that although I was indeed good with my hands I also had a pretty lively and curious mind so my studies for a degree with the Open University started. I took Humanities and concentrated on art history. Over the six years it took for me to complete the degree alongside family and work life I found that the process of creating essays, and learning about art, music, poetry, literature and more just fed my creative gene ready to burst when it was over. I gained a 2:1, not bad for someone good with her hands.
My careers after my initial life in the hospitality world of my youth included being a learning mentor in a sixth form, tour guide for the National Trust and after a change in my circumstances and moving back to Oxfordshire, a brief return back into hospitality. However, now in my mid fifties with grown independent children my time had come to rethink and decide what I wanted or needed to do to make me feel fulfilled and happy. In my lovely flat sat in the bottom of the wardrobe was my dusty, shard encrusted papier-mache urn. I took it out one day to add a shard I found in a stream nearby….. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I now spend all my time creating, teaching and selling my craft of pique assiette. It’s my passion, my therapist and my source of income. During the pandemic all workshops and craft fairs have stopped. However I have been lucky to have my creative bubble to disappear into distracted from what was and is going on in the outside world.
So, this takes me to now. Waiting for the charity shops to reopen so I can scrummage through to find more broken and unwanted beauties. Planning workshops for when, socially distanced or not, I can start to teach again. Making things ready to sell when the fairs open again. With the support and belief of close friends and family realising that making stuff from broken things is the way to go. My way to go, and this makes CracktpotJo very happy.