Keep putting one (creative) foot in front of the other

Insights from Ros Arrowsmith; a mum making magical pottery

I posted earlier this week about a very old battered suitcase I was given by my mum-in-law. It was secured with a deep purple ribbon; or so I thought; having patiently undone the bow I was surprised to find that one of the rusted locks on the case was actually still holding fast, making me work a bit harder to uncover the time-warp it was hiding. I suddenly felt my heartbeat increase, for the simple reason I was struggling to get into this time capsule; I found myself even more keen to open it. After failing to pick the lock with a paperclip, I resorted to a flat screwdriver and after a few hurried attempts I broke it open.

The case was filled to bursting point with sewing patterns that had been purchased, used to make clothes and perhaps lent to friends, then carefully returned to their thin paper cases and stored in perfect condition by my mum in law's mother. I am thoroughly enjoying perusing this vintage collection; such a personal and intimate collection which I feel very privileged to now call my own.

It got me to thinking about how all things go full circle in life. Back in the 1950s if you were a young woman who could point to a dress in a shop window at 11am and say 'I want to wear that to the dance tonight' and be handed the dress by your mum at 5pm you would be the envy of all of your friends. Fast forward 30 years and little boys were going red in the face at the mere suggestion that their nanny had knitted their school jumper. Now another 30+ years on and I'm fairly sure you would be seen as the cool kid in most contexts if you were to exclaim loud and proud for all to hear 'my mum/dad/friend/aunt/uncle/nanny/granddad/cat made this and it's the only one like it'.

Making clothes may not seem too scary for me (only because I've done it and most things are only scary when they are unknown...) but I find it hugely fascinating to look at other handmade everyday items that have in more recent years been taken on by small independent businesses who have played with their form, design, pattern and creation to give us a rich multitude of products to choose from. This conversation was actually one of the first I did and I am delighted to say that I met the mum featured at a craft Market last year and was bowled over by what she had created and found myself massively inspired by what she was achieving whilst bringing up a small human. 

Conversations with Creative Mums #4: Ros Arrowsmith Pottery

1. What do you create? I throw pottery, normally tableware.

2. Why do you do what you do? After being made redundant, I decided I wanted to finally try using my BA Decorative Arts and be my own boss.

3. If we asked your son what you do what would they say? My mummy is a potter.

4. Would you be doing what you’re doing if you hadn’t become a mother? Yes, I started working as a potter a year before I had my son.

5. How do you stay motivated after a bad day (or week…or month!)? I have a Smile File with comments and messages I’ve had from people who have loved the pots they have bought from me.

Photographs below taken by Kate Anderson: showing Ros and a small collection of her beautiful pottery.  

6. One piece of advice you’d give to a mum thinking of starting a creative business? Don’t expect to earn anything for a while, just concentrate on getting your designs right and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

7. Best life-hack you’ve picked up? I swore by the travel cot that I got from an NCT sale which my son would sit in and sleep in while I worked in my studio until he got rather too boisterous for it!

8. Best activity you have for encouraging your child to be creative? Playdough is a big favourite with my three year old!

Wild card question: Funniest or most embarrassing confession about your creative journey so far? My proudest creative moment with my son was when we were at Forest School, he picked up a ball of clay, put it in the centre of sawn off log and then made the action that I would when I start throwing – with the pained expression to go with it!

Book, blog or podcast recommendation? It’s not quite any of these but I love the Maker’s Yearbook which is a diary and also a Facebook group with a series of projects to do through the year.

Thank you so much to Ros for getting involved and for the very handy tips and tricks; I LOVE the smile file concept and think I may create one for myself...If you'd like to see more of Ros and her beautiful pottery, have a peek at her website (be warned - you will probably want to buy everything she makes!)

Join in the Conversation

Got something to say about running or setting up a creative business whilst juggling being a mum? Have a topic you'd like to discuss or questions you'd like to put out there? If you'd like to add anything here please feel free to pop a comment on this blog post or if you'd like to feature in a future #conversationswithcreativemums blog post simply pop me and email.

Lets keep putting one foot in front of the other together; then if occasionally we fall down we have someone to help us back up again.

Emma xx