Following on from our interview with the Crafts Council’s Executive Director Rosy Greenlees on their latest report about the opening up of new markets for craft, we caught up with three makers to see how they have adapted to fit the needs and desires of people in lockdown. The first in our series is Sophie Sellu, whose experience and proactive work underlines the Crafts Council’s findings about people under the age of 35 engaging with craft, and a new generation of makers who are self-taught, finding their own ways of staying relevant, even in these most challenging of times.
How has Covid-19 affected your practice?
I’ve found it really difficult to keep myself motivated and creative. As time has gone on, I have revisited lots of old work and refined my ideas rather than working on anything new at this point. I have really enjoyed reworking in that way and streamlining my processes. I have also made work just for myself, which I never normally do. Pieces that I love I have been able to sit with in my home and enjoy.
What’s been keeping you busy during lockdown?
I have had a few private commissions that I have been working on, and have also been making new brushes and bud vases. I’ve been sorting out my workshop to make it more productive too. Other than making, I seem to have taken to making all different types of ice cream and sorbets. We have been trying to make our dinner times as special as possible and dessert has been my domain. I have also been trialing some really special cocktails with homemade syrups.
‘It gives me freedom to work outside the set parameters, and potentially come up with something new…’
Have you noticed a change in what customers are interested in buying? Do you think this pandemic will change how and what we buy?
At the moment I am only really producing brushes and vases, but I have had lots of private commissions and requests for utensils. All the items I make are intended to elevate your everyday experiences, be it cooking or cleaning up crumbs, and with more time at home I am sure people are looking for objects that make them happy.
Have you done any online workshops during lockdown or other ways to engage your followers in your process?
I took time out from in person workshops around a year ago. I felt that I had learnt as much as I could from teaching them and really wanted to focus on my own personal creative journey. I have had a few people asking about online classes, and it is something I am keen to do in the future. I am currently working on a long project behind the scenes that will give more of an insight into my processes.
What do you think are the advantages of being self-taught?
I am never afraid to try something new, and to test out techniques that are not necessarily the norm. It gives me freedom to work outside the set parameters, and potentially come up with something new. I found a way of working that was suitable for me, and made it enjoyable. It does have its downsides too! Having friends in the same field means we can exchange tips and techniques.
Who are your customers, in terms of age/demographic?
The majority of my customers are female, and I would say 60% of my sales come from outside the UK. Most of my UK sales are from London. I think the age of my customers really varies, when I was teaching workshops my customer age ranged from 18-80!
What are you most looking forward to post lockdown?
Looking forward to spending time with my family and friends, and eventually welcoming customers back to my pop up shop in Islington Square.