Where do people get their inspiration from and ideas for their work?

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Mark Baker

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I am mindful of a conversation a while back during a demonstration whereby someone asked “Where do people get their inspiration from and ideas for their work?” It is a valid question and some of the club members joined in and chewed it over a while and the consensus was that a lot of them had the skill to make the boxes, hollow forms, platters, bowls, etc. and wanted to know about developing those further. I must admit my answer was, on reflection, heartfelt, but not necessarily something I would now say without adding a few extra words of explanation. My comment was that I get inspiration from everything I see. I am like a sponge; even in local supermarkets I look at the latest glassware, ceramics and so on. I notice the packaging of the things – perfume bottle are a wonderful source of shapes – the architectural wonders of buildings, nature. I don’t stop looking and seeing. Someone once said we look but don’t see what is around us, that is true, but although all that I have just said is true, I think there is a bigger issue. We show people how to make things, show ideas, techniques they can use andworking methodology, which people can remember and use. But that question has caused me to think a bit more about what I say and how best to explain things, and it also harks back to when I was teaching and the following quote rings true in many ways. “We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to grow – Oscar Wilde.”

I am mindful of learning the times table by rote at school, I was also taught in quite a didactic way in the metalworking and woodworking shops at school, - yes, we still had the separate disciplines when I was at school, including needlework and cooking arghhh. I got an A* in cookery and an A in needlework for another. Eek! Anyway I digress.

No matter what I learned at school, it was during my apprenticeship that I had to think fast in the real world of time is money. One had to learn to adapt and think on one’s feet. There was no ‘ideal’ situation where by one could work in exactly the same way as one did in the workshop at school. It was only then that people started to talk about how things needed to be adapted, that my working methods had to be flexible and be prepared to make mistakes.

I think the opportunity for people to learn in a manner which they can remember is available in many formats now, but how do we convey and show people how they can grow?

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