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In Conversation with: V21 Pottery

I was so happy to discover the work of V21 Pottery a couple of years ago. Their handcrafted ceramic collections are innovative and always have a contemporary feel and sleek finish. And their ceramic herb sticks were the standout bestseller in the pop-up shop last year. 'The perfect present for someone who already has everything!' was a common exclamation from happy customers.

Having started working with V21 during the onset of the Covid pandemic, I haven't had a chance to visit their Cardiff studio and meet the makers yet - which is one of my very favourite aspects of the Socially Crafted strand of the project. So it was lovely to hear from them through an interview instead...

First of all, can you tell us a bit about the creative processes at V21 Pottery?

At V21 Pottery we support 48 trainees to produce hand built ceramic creations. We incorporate pinch pots, coiling and slab building techniques into our work alongside the more technical elements of ceramics such as glaze mixing, clay reclaim and kiln firing. Our trainees are involved in every aspect from designing and making to marketing and selling their work.

“It is my supreme honour to be here amongst some good friends, and I feel very confident about making things better then what they are. Also I hope we can be a great team and the more we cooperate, the better.” - Danny

What do the makers that you support love most about taking part at V21 Pottery?

“I like working with the teachers. Being in Pottery makes me happy, designing and making Kiln Monsters. I want to make more pottery and really like seeing my friends. I like drawing and designing work. And I like cleaning the pottery as well.” - Jason

“Excited waking up on Wednesday, I love making things. I like designing work and socialising. Bored if there was no pottery and would have to watch TV nearly all day. Very important having helped to make Pottery and good learning about artists.” - Anthony

What do the makers say about selling their work?

It is incredibly important for our trainees to see their work being bought and enjoyed by other people, bringing a sense of real pride and worth to what they create.

“I feel very proud and very confident about coming to this place indeed.” - Viv

What's the most popular music choice in the V21 studio?

It really depends who is in that day! We have a real eclectic mix of rock music to show tunes!

You support people with learning disabilities, what impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had on your members?

It’s been a really tough year and we have had to close the provisions during the many firebreaks and lockdowns. Community and socialising is a huge part of the V21 experience so we have been keeping in touch with everyone via Zoom and through a Facebook page. We are keeping everything crossed that we will be able to return to the Pottery as soon as it is safe to do so.

“I feel happy when I wake up because I am meeting my friends and making friends. I draw and colour at home too.” - Joanne

Have there been any unexpected silver linings during this difficult year?

We have definitely learnt how resilient we are as a charity and as a community. We have all learnt new skills through using online communication platforms which have really helped to provide much needed support throughout the past year.

What are V21's top tips for lockdown?

Stay in touch. And try and get outside for a walk every day.

We have also encouraged all of our pottery trainees to keep creative through drawing, colouring and making - you can become lost in creative work and find that you forget all your worries. So, so good for mental health.

Please tell us who designed / who's idea it was to create the best-selling ceramic herb sticks!

At V21 Pottery we are well known for our garden ceramics and we have been making the ceramic herb sticks for many years. Over the years we have tried different designs and glazes and our current streamline design was the idea of our project lead Kylie. Our trainees choose the colour of glazes and stains for each stick. We have recently expanded our range to include the Welsh words for fruits, vegetables and herbs.

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