Very Berry has a new home

Getting a place of my own to work in, rather than operating out of my bedroom, has been a dream of mine for a long time. We talked about converting our garage (but where would we put the 25+ years worth of junk?), and I looked at various places that were way out of my price range. Recently, ACAVA (the Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art – an educational charity) has worked with Stoke City Council (I live on the edge of Stoke) to develop part of the old disused Spode pottery factory into 43 studios for artists.
Spode works

Because the spaces are brilliantly competitively priced, I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained, and, 3 weeks later, I have my own space! Working in the pottery industry goes back generations in my family – right back to the late 18th century – both my granddads, and my dad, and my uncle worked in the Potteries (my uncle actually worked at Spode for a while) so it feels really great to be – kind of – following in their footsteps. The site is amazing – incredibly evocative, a real higgledy-piggle of buildings. I have got lost several times… and you can’t imagine how hairy it is to drive my car round through narrow roadway to the studio entrance… but I love being somewhere which is so part of our city’s history and my family history too:

My Studio at Spode

My room is small – but epically sized in comparison to the corner of my bedroom! – and has two windows (double aspect for the estate agents out there), so is full of light. My views are definitely industrial chic… verging on the gothic. See what I mean about the crazy mish mash of buildings, staircases, roofs and windows? And check out the creepy chairs on the roof:

view from my window

It’s very quiet as yet, I got in really early, with just under a quarter of the studios let, and only a couple of other people have moved in so far. This guy is my most lively neighbour, and he’s not exactly working hard.

my neighbour

My space is still a work in progress. I was very glad to salvage the office desk, which was already here when I arrived – and the plan for that big, empty wall is a proper design wall – which will be brilliant.. There’s also room in the bigger communal areas of the building to baste my quilts (there are some huge spaces), if no one minds!  That will be so great because my only existing basting space is our hall floor.

my studio 2

I saved the best pic for last. Got my mini-quilts on the wall, and the ironing board in place, and the radio on! Definitely feeling more at home there every day, and wonderful value at £83 per month. If anyone out there reading this is up in our neck of the woods, then there are still available studios in all kinds of sizes, and there is an Open Day on 17 May.

my studio 1

33 thoughts on “Very Berry has a new home

  1. I’m so pleased you have such a light and airy space in which to create. How fantastic! I use our dining table for sewing and my hall floor for cutting out. How I wish I had a studio like yours. My husband despairs at my ever increasing storage boxes and other bits and bobs slowly cluttering up our spare room which doubles as his home office.

    1. thanks Deborah – it really is a lovely space – I was there this morning and found it hard to come back to do house/kids stuff! Naughty me… Sad to say I still have an awful lot of stuff (aka fabric!) at home…

  2. I an sure that in many US cities such old buildings are being re-issued into artists use studios, as is being done here in Denver,Colorado. Congratulations and how I wish we could all see your space. Is Spode china still being made?

    1. Thank you! How I would like to have you all come and visit! Spode still exists – kind of – the very successful Portmeirion group bought the brand name, existing stock and patterns a few years ago when Spode went into administration. Portmerion make the very famous Spode Blue Italian designs at their factory in Stoke.

  3. Congratulations Ali. It looks wonderful and so cheap too. Do you take your little dog in with you? If not he will notice the difference won’t he? When the units start to fill up it will be a lively, fun community. And as a bonus you get all your bedroom back and your house keeps cleaner.

    1. Wee Barney will probably not even notice I’m gone – my husband and kids will be at home. Wish I could take him though! I really do hope it means my house will be less full of thready bits…

  4. Hey! Congratulations! How exciting for you and what a really cool place…… what wonderful light! Enjoy!

  5. Very happy for you, Ali! I too wish I could move out of my flat (or get a bigger one, haha) so I can definitely relate. Your new space has proper windows (as in, double glazing) which is fab, too!

    1. Oh yes, the double glazing is most welcome… there is no heating unfortunately, but it was 4C outside today (!) and with my plug in radiator I was fine, so I am very hopeful that I won’t freeze. Hope you get your dream of a bigger space one day… 🙂

      1. Thanks! I might, when I move out of London 😉 I hope temperature is good throughout the year – if not, you can always hide underneath a quilt 😀

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