Last week I went to my first ever Creative Coffee Leicester at Phoenix Square in the centre of Leicester. This informal and relaxed event offers regular networking for creative people in the area.
I had been meaning to go to one of these meetings for a while now but something always came up or it slipped my mind. However when I heard that Julia Hamer from Makers' Yard was going to do a talk about the building they have acquired for studio spaces in Leicester city centre, I felt I had to go. I had looked at their website and had seen some photos of Ruth Singer's studio space via Twitter so I was really interested to see what Julia had to say about it.
I also haven't met many 'creatives' in Leicester, apart from the jewellers that I have met through the ACJ (Association for Contemporary Jewellery), so I thought it'd be nice to met some new creative people.
I went along at 10am, more than ready for a cup of coffee, and sat with a very friendly man named Paul Burton from twf Design and Marketing Solutions. We discussed our work and what we wanted from the event. Paul showed me some of the 3D imaging he had been working on including some for a jewellery designer! We then mingled and spoke to some other creative people including Nicki Merrall, a knitwear designer and tutor. We found we had both worked with similar materials - nylon and polyester threads. Nicki had knitted with polyester threads and I use nylon thread in my work now. I also met the owner of Handmade by Hema who makes beautiful knitwear. It was great to speak to another first timer at the event and discuss our work, how we do our marketing and where we sell our work. You can buy Handmade by Hema knitwear on Etsy.
Julia Hamer spoke about Makers' Yard, which is a really interesting building with big studio spaces rented by a wide range of artists, designers and craftspeople. There are woodworkers, painters, glassmakers, paperworkers, textile artists, photographers and ceramicists to name a few. In previous years the building was know as the Charnwood Hosiery Factory where socks for football clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Leicester City were made. Lydia Marshall, 94, who used to work at the factory was invited to the opening of Makers' Yard. She says, "we even made a pair for Terry Wogan!"
Julia asked for some ideas on how Makers' Yard could make the building more appealing to the general public. Some ideas were thrown around the room, with several people coming up with excellent and inspiring suggestions, which snowballed as others contributed.
I really enjoyed hearing everyone's ideas and how they evolved as the group discussed them. In my eyes this is what Creative Coffee is all about - networking, finding new sources of inspiration and collaborating with other creative people.
I will definitely go back to Creative Coffee and I am glad to say that I have kept in touch with several of the people I met there.