Sunday, 18 October 2020

In a year of the unexpected I didn’t expect that!

2020 has undoubtedly been the biggest rollercoaster ride of my life as a potter.
The year had started so well and to be honest we felt we were going to fly this year,
turns out nobody was flying!

Then Enter the Dragon!
In August- September the gallery-st-ives  in Tokyo included 23 of my pots in an exhibition in a large department store in Tokyo Japan.
As a kid Japan to me was a world of hi tech toys, Casio calculators and Mazda cars.
I remember my Dad taking a Mazda 626 on a test drive in 1979, it was an amazing car but my dad just couldn’t bring himself to buy a Japanese car!
That was a thing back in those days ( how the World has changed )
In my teenage years I had discovered Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, and began to learn more about the culture and the links with English ceramics.

In Japan pots have to have a use, a function that allows the user a reason as to why they buy a particular pot. Craftsmanship is high on the agenda when choosing such objects and so to have virtually sold out of the 23 pots entered into the exhibition in the Takashimaya dept store has 

proved a huge boost to my confidence and bank balance in these very uncertain times.

I’m sure my Dad would have been proud!

( I know for sure he regretted not buying that Mazda )

To be honest my pots have always been aimed to the end user market

more than the Gallery/collector market and that’s probably why they have sold so well in a department store setting.

But to sell at all, when they were amongst the company of other great potters from England is a great feeling.

I googled the store to find out a bit more about the place
which looks amazing, top class and a retail customers dream!
I’ve always loved retail and big department stores in the UK are facing difficult times but I’m sure they will evolve, because as much as people like buying online, you can’t beat a good old fashioned store to visit that gives you a sense of place, the ethos of the company and its values.
You get a feel for a place and that’s what draws you back

Here it is on Goolge maps
and here's a thing, I was telling my neighbour Derek about it this morning and he was asking me lots of questions about where the store was and it turns out he used to work for Hitachi and spent a fair amount of time in Tokyo and he's actually been in this very store!
So who would have thought it all those years ago when I set up
Barrington Pottery that our pots would be selling in a high class department store in Japan?

Not forgetting our own home grown customers 

Showrooms have always been important to me in setting the scene and making people feel comfortable and relaxed!
Whatever else may be going on in the world, I have always wanted people to stop and feel that our showrooms are somewhere they love to come again and again, which is why we try and lift the level every year.
This year since the reopening of our showroom our customers have I must say been absolutely Brilliant!
Many of them making special journeys to come and buy from us and check if we are going to be ok despite the best efforts of the NT to make it difficult for people to visit us!
( thankfully we seem to have resolved this )

Another customer of ours sent me a picture when he had lunch at the Barrington Boar and recognised our sauce pots in use!
It’s so nice that customers want to interact with us and feel proud when they spot our pots being used.

The Highs and Lows of this year have been difficult to cope with
but we’ve found time work on our cottage a bit and the new boiler
has proved to be a revelation.

So stay warm stay well and should you wish to add to your selection of Barrington Pottery remember the website is open 24/7

Thank You


Sunday, 16 August 2020

Far more than just a pottery!

Over the past months the Pottery seems to have evolved into something 
far greater than I ever imagined!
If ever there was a week that summed this up
It was last week!
The week started with lessons in on our 6th Wedding anniversary 
not something we had planned but we made the most of it and enjoyed our day.

The day was greatly boosted by these two lovely people 
Matthew & Louise
They had been in for a pottery lesson with us 3 weeks earlier and had come to collect their pots! 
but what Louise was totally unaware of
was Matt had arranged with Marion a little surprise.

They went off into the grounds of Barrington Court 
for a picnic and to unwrap their pots 
One of which had a very special message on.

We were so pleased when they came back in to the pottery
to thank us
and confirm that She said Yes!
We felt so very honoured to be apart of this very special occasion.

Earlier in the week we had watched in horror at the devastating explosion In Beirut and as more information came out about the sheer devastation and lack of funds I looked for a way we could possibly offer a small amount of help.

I had been following this bakery in Beirut on Instagram @maviabakery it’s set up to support Sirian refugees and to empower women, 
and when I saw this post came up with the idea of offering one of our Pancheons 
as a raffle prize to raise funds.
It was a quick turn around to raise funds quickly 
and in just two days we raised £210
which was sent on the Monday morning.
The winner of the Pancheon was Tibi Weir and it’s on it’s way to it’s new home!

We had for a long time been trying to find time to visit my three daughters and the grandkids, but it was fast becoming an impossible task as work in the pottery really has taken off, with orders for 3 new customers all wanting pots at the same time!
So the decision was made to grab an extra day off and make the two day round trip
Seeing all three girls, young Lily and Hamish.
It only happened to be the two warmest days of the year and although my car was working great
having just had a full service & mot the air con still wasn’t working 🥵
but it was great to see them!
We managed to grab an evening of R&R in Bury st Edmunds 
which we thoroughly enjoyed. What a lovely place.

After an almost 5 hour drive back home
We were back in the workshop the next morning 
Followed by a Taster session group of four on Friday 
And a full day lesson with these three on Saturday!
For us at least the quiet simple pace of lockdown 
Is already a thing of the past!
We really do have to keep motoring on and try and catch up on the 107 lessons that were postponed due to Covid-19.
Finding time to write the blog on a Sunday morning feels like a light relief before I open up the showroom again later today 12 - 4pm,
but if ever a pottery felt like more than just a pottery
this last week proved it!
Support your local potter
and enjoy your week.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Throwing the doors open!

We are back Open
We Threw our doors open at 10.30 on Saturday 4th July 2020
and we have been pleasantly reassured by the response!
People actually seeking us out to come and support us and checking that we are both Ok
( which we are Thank You )
Talking to customers again has been a delight! 
“There I said it!”

Being interrupted while trying to slip some bigger Pancheons has been a pleasure!
Without customers where would we be?
“You’ve probably Just spat Your tea out at this point”
Is this really Paul writing this?
Yes it is Honest!

I have a new spring in my step since we came back and it’s not just down to a new pair of Reeboks 

We had our first lesson in on Friday 
Having cancelled 107 spaces we need to start catching up
but only when people feel comfortable doing so!
We’ve taken appropriate measures and reduce class sizes, so if you’ve got yourself a voucher you can checkout the revised dates on the website, but you have to give Marion a call to book the date you want.

My trials of new designs, slips and colours have really got me excited about making again
and I’m loving it at the moment!

We currently are working on pots for two new customers that we hope will 
prove to be long term collaborations, more on that as we progress!

You may or may not have noticed on our website that we have included a new sales category called Barrington Pottery and Lifestyle which is something we have been working on for a while now, but we haven’t properly announced it to the World just yet as we have been looking for more products to add to it! 
So we have been searching out things that we love or would love, but what’s proving difficult is finding things that we don’t just Keep for ourselves!
Like these two roof tile wall candles, that are now living under the logia in our back garden!
Whilst writing this I’ve just had to stop because a lady just bought the Weekday Chalk Board in the showroom!

I hope I’m not going on to much? Please tell me if I am!
so much is happening at the moment it’s hard to keep up.

The one thing we have decided is to make more time for ourselves 
and a day on the north Devon coast was just the ticket.
Look at all that socially distant space!
It’s not all roses
Blogs are about telling it how it is, 
we’ll my one is.
If I said my car has been a pain in the butt, that would be a very big understatement 
Donald Trump would probably say
“ it’s not a problem, I knew it was a problem, I saw the problem coming”

And here’s another thing
We have been open 14 Days
And this is all that has been used by people coming in the shop!
Even more infuriating is that most of that has been used as they Go Out!

But my New reading glasses are great!

Hope you’re  all well?
Stay safe and let’s hope the National Trust start to increase the number of visitors to the Court or at least let in people who just want to visit us 
because the current arrangements aren’t doing us any favours at all!

Monday, 25 May 2020

Focusing on the positives!

I’ve just started to come to terms with this Coronavirus lockdown business!
up until now I have been trying to understand why I haven’t been able to relax into the groove of it?
It probably doesn’t help that we live in this beautiful village of ours and for many of the folk here it’s pretty much business as usual for them as they are either retired or don’t need to work. ( obviously with some exceptions here amongst our friends)

The first couple of weeks were Possibly the hardest to cope with, as we needed to deal with banks and building societies to sort out payment holidays, with differing degrees of success!
Once we had that sorted we were finally able to fit in a couple of good nights sleep.
I hadn’t realised how emotionally drained I was, which when I tried to get back in the workshop to finish of some orders that were left under plastic sheeting, I found it hard to summon up the motivation, something obviously needs to change!
I’ve been taking time to listen to new things and people, especially ones that are prepared to talk about their feelings in a positive manner, doom and gloom have never really been highly rated by myself, wether I’m in a good State of mind or not.
I’ve finally come to realise why I’ve been struggling, especially when I consider just how lucky I am in so many ways, it’s alright to be worried, people worry about different things and in different ways
and I am all too aware that I had lost my sense of humour! To me that is a big sign.

For the past 11 years my pottery business has been my main focus in life, I’ve thrown everything I have at it, both emotionally, physically and financially in a bid to make it a successful viable business for our future, and this year it really felt to both of us that it was beginning to happen!
then suddenly totally out of the blue and totally out of my control we are told we have to close up with no real date as to when things will re open and our business income just dries up like the last dribbles of a stream in a summer heatwave and there was nothing I could do about it!
No wonder I felt despondent.

But the great thing about being an optimist is that the phrase “ there’s nothing I can do about it” doesn’t actually exist in my mind.
The challenge then is to find the “what can I do”
And this is where it starts to get exciting!

So what do I have now more than anything?
Time to sit back and evaluate, time to discuss the things we like about the business, time to openly discuss what we need or just want to change!
Honesty with yourselves is the biggest Elephant in the room in this discussion.
Ok, so luckily you guy’s weren’t around during those few days!
Home truths can be hard to face and we probably didn’t like each other for a day or two!
So what’s about to change that doesn’t cost a lot of money?

That’s always our starting point! ” What do we already have that we can use?”
I’ve had an idea about raising the quality of the showroom ever since we took a few days away in Herefordshire back in September last year.
And pots,  I want to make new pots. Pots I can see in my head and have been wanting to make for a few years now!
But now we have time,
so let’s get stuck in.

Now the blog is firmly re established further updates will be posted here..
In the meantime as a part of my searching out new things that inspire me I came across an interview with this chap Richard Hawley, any man that when asked to open the “Brit awards” responds with “no thanks I’d rather walk the dog” is alright by me!
And I’ve added a link to a song that might just help your well-being.
Stay Safe, Stay Well, Stay Home ish!
Until next time take care.

Check out "Open up Your Door" by Richard Hawley on Amazon Music.

In a year of the unexpected I didn’t expect that!

2020 has undoubtedly been the biggest rollercoaster ride  of my life as a potter. The year had started so well and to be honest we felt we w...