I've had the pleasure of working with Studio 306 Collective since 2015, when I first started collecting work made by people facing social challenges. They support people recovering from mental health conditions and produce a variety of beautifully crafted work including silver jewellery, fabric purses and pouches and lovely delicate ceramic tea-light holders.
As I haven't been able to pay a visit for a long while now, I thought I'd catch up with them to see how their experience of this strange and unexpected year has been.
First of all, can you tell us a bit about the creative processes at Studio 306?
We work across four disciplines, ceramics, screen printing, jewellery and sewing. We run courses to teach these skills to people recovering from mental health issues. We also have a team of makers who have stayed on after becoming advanced students as well as local community volunteers who make and design products for us to sell.
The makers earn back the same amount of time that they give to us, and use the studio and equipment to make their own products. We encourage them and give them opportunities to sell their work at fairs and open studios.
What do your members find most beneficial about taking part at Studio 306? Our makers and volunteers benefit from being a part of a creative team and often build up friendships with each other. They really like the making process and love to get feedback when work they have made is sold or posted on websites and social media. Studio 306 may be the only place that our makers get out to each week, so it is really important to them.
You support people recovering from mental health conditions, what impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had on your members?
It has been really hard for our makers during the pandemic as you would expect. They really miss coming to the studio and seeing people. To prevent isolation, we have made sure to keep in good touch with them all to regularly check on their well being.
When lockdown started, we posted craft projects for our makers and volunteers on Instagram and they connected with that, maybe participating or sometimes just liking the post. We did a daily post for weeks!
What impact has the pandemic had on Studio 306?
As we came out of the first lockdown, we were told that our premises was not Covid safe, due to ventilation issues. We had made plans to have our makers back in - with plenty of social distancing and safety measures - but it was not possible. Also there are new people in need of joining our classes and they are just having to wait.
So we prepared work for the makers and volunteers to do at home and they came to the door to collect...at a safe distance and we all wear our masks. We all really enjoyed seeing each other again. We now see them weekly to collect work and bring it back. We are working really hard to keep our online outlets supplied with stock for Christmas selling.
Have there been any unexpected silver linings during this difficult year?
We have increased our following on Instagram by a good amount, and made new contacts who are buying from us as individuals. We have been able to keep in contact with our outlets and our makers and volunteers are very happy to see their work online.
We have become more technically able, including making videos for YouTube and having meetings on Zoom.
We started making masks and have sold quite a number of those.
But until we get our makers/volunteers back in, we can’t be happy!
What are your top tips for lockdown?
Keep in touch with people - Take a walk outside - Go to a park or green space if you can -
Think about what you could do in the next hour, rather than worry about anything too far ahead - Appreciate each other more than ever - Wear a mask and keep safe !