Pocktorian Becomes a US-Only Entity

24 03 2010

I received a couple of e-mails yesterday from Anne LaVene that were so ugly I’m tempted to post copies of each one here. I’ll resist the temptation and be better than that.

Suffice it to say that Anne made it totally obvious that she did not share my vision for Pocktorian and had no interest in helping other Norwich textile businesses start up. Nor did she seem to appreciate at all the support and opportunities being constantly offered by UnLtd.

Therefore, I forwarded the specific e-mail in which she expressed that to UnLtd withdrawing my support for Anne taking over Pocktorian-UK, and suggesting that they reconsider their support for her and consider cutting off the grant. Apparently, they had already come to that conclusion themselves.

I was rather upset by this last evening. I feel bad that the textile graduates of Norwich, UK will not have this possibility for starting a business in Norwich. Also, since I have been getting copies of all the e-mails full of opportunities for holders of UnLtd’s level 1 grants, I am sure that, had I been able to stay in the UK and head Pocktorian-UK, or had Anne actually taken advantage of those on its behalf, Pocktorian-UK would be well on its way, and several other businesses would already be on their way also.

I know this because of the replies that have been coming in to a Gumtree ad I placed over a month before I left the UK. I’ve been passing them on to Anne. The good news is that I also passed one of those on to UnLtd, and they suggested that she apply for an UnLtd grant of her own. So even from here in the US, I’ve been able to facilitate at least one textile business to be in the Norwich area.

This is long enough. My next post will be about what I’ve been doing in Charlottesville to begin to envision the right version of Pocktorian for Charlottesville. I do welcome any comments and suggestions, particularly from Charlottesville textile artists and any Norwich textile people who have ambitions to start businesses locally.

Any Norwich Designer / Makers Out There?

7 01 2010

I’ve got a problem. It’s an interesting problem, so having the problem is not a problem, but I’m having trouble figuring out why none of the approaches I’m using is working.

You see, I’ve got excess studio space, and I can’t use all the equipment I have in it at once, and neither can Ruth Solomon or Marion Steele, who are already associated with the incubator.

I keep talking to individual local designer / makers (as I come upon  them) about the incubator, about what it has to offer in terms of studio space (light, warmth, water, equipment, collaboration, etc. etc.) and about putting their work in the sales space of the incubator. But they aren’t coming by, and they aren’t putting their work in the space, and I need to find out why and fix it.

All through December, I thought they were probably out and about doing shows every week and too busy with that and the holidays to come over and check us out. But the first week of January is almost over, and I have e-mailed several designer makers (OK, not all the ones I originally contacted….yet) and …nothing.

I need to know where to look to find enough of them to fill up the space and to really stock the sales space with a variety of work. I tell everyone who comes into the space, and they all know someone appropriate. I’ve heard of people doing all kinds of work I would love to have in the shop, handmade paper, screen printed fabric and home furnishing, marvelous hand-tied dyeing, felting,… the list goes on and on.

What do I need to offer and who do I need to offer it to? Obviously, I haven’t come up with the right answers so far. Would you all please consider offering me a suggestion? Tell me a designer / maker I should talk to, tell me someone who is looking for studio space. If you work from home, tell me what you would be looking for if you decided to get a studio space. If you did shows before Christmas and have work left over, why is putting it at Pocktorian not something you’re motivated to take action on?

Amended: It’s amazing how writing on this blog inspires me to take actions I probably should have take a long time ago. I just wrote the Costume and Textile Association to join (after knocking myself on the forehead several times while saying “Duh!”).

Norwich Should Be a SLOW CITY

5 01 2010

What’s a SLOW CITY? See for yourself.


I see it as a city that appreciates and fosters its own specialness, one that rejects the definition of growth as the opening of bigger better high street “name” operations and instead builds its growth by fostering local institutions of all types, a city that trades on and has confidence in its own uniqueness.

Norwich would make an ideal SLOW city because it has retained so much of of its structural heritage, and even a good deal of its documentary and material culture heritage.

Norwich has great difficulty in becoming a FAST city because of its map inside the old city walls. The streets are narrow and riddled with even smaller pathway-sized passages which are often really the most direct way of getting from one place to another. Almost always it is actually impossible to take the most direct route in a car. Often, you can really only do it on foot, because you’d even have to walk a bicycle most of the way.

In addition, the more Norwich tries to be a FAST city, the more of its regional treasures it risks losing. Many have already gone down, though not so long ago that they could not be revived with just a bit of concentrated effort. And the results would be a much more interesting city than a FAST Norwich would ever be.

I’m not unbiased. As an outsider, coming all the way from the US to Norwich only 5 years ago, it now amazes me how much more I know about Norwich’s textile heritage than many of the locals know.

At the moment, all that heritage can be retrieved and used to build a marvelous SLOW CITY. Note that being a SLOW CITY does not mean rejecting advances in technology or abstaining from filling gaps that cannot be filled by institutions already existing. It does not mean becoming a “replica” town, a town oriented almost entirely toward tourism. It means becoming Norwich, a place like no other place because its treasures and features of interest (to locals in particular) exist nowhere else.

I hope to stay and make Pocktorian Textiles a part of that picture of Norwich.

Interview with Hark Jeung

7 12 2009

I was sitting in the sales room of the incubator this morning, trying to get certain areas of the detail ribbon on the plain white wedding shoesI have redone to lie flat. The shoes are now an red/pink/purple with mottled gold gilded heels and patches of mottled gold scattered on each shoe. Nothing plain about them now.

Anyhow, I was working on the parts where the ribbon has to do curves it doesn’t want to do, when a woman entered and introduced herself as a Hong Kong journalist and photographer named Hark Jeung. She has been spending some time in Norwich and more or less fallen in love with its textile history and decided to write a book on that and on what kinds of textile creations were being made in Norwich now.

We ended up sitting down and talking for almost three hours. And then, having spotted Rebecca Spragge’s corset, Hark Jeung had me contact her for an interview,too.

Obviously that has to be the highlight of the day, though there were several other good things as well, including being offered a legacy fabric stash. Someone up there knows I want to do a line like Desigual’s for those of us who are older and curvier and can’t fit into theirs. By the way, I’m going to call my own line Intreped Threads. Now to come up with a good logo.

What type of thing would an intreped thread do, do you think?