Today we're featuring James Price, a blacksmith and designer from East Sussex - our back yard!
Truth be told, our first encounter with James was via our Facebook news feed. Late last year the Crafts Council generously shared a rather beautiful short film of his work (which you can view below). The time-intensive and methodical nature of his craft is evident, but most compelling is the manifest care taken with each step of the process. By perfect chance we were then lucky enough to view James' work at MADE Brighton, and were struck by the coupling of clean lines and rough texture in his work. James' is a contemporary style, made possible by a particular confidence in his craft. All in all, we were hooked, and keen to get to know a little bit more about James and his processes.
Your website describes your training in both academic and hands-on contexts. Have you found one to be more beneficial than the other?
I think I was lucky in that I began my training as a blacksmith in Hereford having already completed an arts degree; this gave me a head start as I already had an awareness of form and a critical approach that many of my peers lacked. After Hereford I travelled, working in forges in both Switzerland and the UK. I learnt so much during this time and I really think there's no better training than working for another maker, as its not theoretical, its real. There's that realisation that time is money and that you need to work efficiently and to a continually high standard.
(Or do you believe that you truly need both to grasp the craft fully?)
There is a particularly modern feel to a lot of your work. Is that something that inspires you? Or do you find yourself looking to the past for inspiration?
I like clean lines, honest materials, techniques that tell a story of how an object has been made. I think a craft needs to stay relevant and sometimes unfortunately blacksmithing suffers from a bit of an image crisis. I'm inspired mainly by the material and the techniques. I love old things but I'm not really interested in re-creating work from the past, especially when there's so many new things that are possible.
What do you listen to while working? (or is that impossible in a forge?!)
I love a bit of Lauren Laverne and 6 music - as it's really noisy in the forge we do have to crank it up.
Describe your processes for us. Are there techniques that you feel more comfortable with?
I like the forging - that's the magic within my job; the alchemy of fire and transforming hard metals into plastic forms. I'm less keen on welding and grinding but this is often a necessary evil.
How do you find the process of selling your produce? Have you found the maker's community supportive?
I work mainly to commission, with the bulk of my work being architectural and site specific. I do sell through shows, but these are often as a means of promoting myself and gaining larger commissions. I enjoy meeting other makers and am always reminded what hard work it is being a craftsperson, and the huge achievement it is to be actually making a living.
Do you have a favourite piece?
I like my stack lights, these were the result of a fortnight of creative exploration. Every now and then I like to make work for me, to get excited and inspired and let the creative juices flow. I think this is so important and easily lost when running a business.
We're asking all of our MAKE//FRIENDS makers what techniques they have for when they get stuck in a rut. What do you do to get inspired when you're up against a creative wall?
I walk and try not to force it, I reckon creativity needs time. Failing that, wine!
Describe your ideal Sunday for us.
Not being woken up at 7 by my kids! Maybe 8ish? A lovely sunny day, machiatto, brekkie, paper, a swim in the sea, barbecue on the beach with friends and family, a good bottle of wine and maybe a dog walk for good measure...bed.
You can view James' portfolio over on his website.