Tallie Maughan has a background in theatre management and merchandise sales but has just managed to raise over £8,000 to set up the Turning Earth Ceramics Studio in London. The idea behind Turning Earth came to Tallie when she was living in California and using a studio there. Turning Earth will provide an open access studio on a membership basis for ceramic enthusiasts across London.
Emily Smith talks to Tallie and discovers how she managed to raise such a large amount in a matter of hours and why the idea behind Turning Earth is ground breaking for the UK. Tallie will open the studio with master craftsman Stuart Carey.
Tallie is enthusiastic about her latest venture and is exited to tell me where the idea came from and her time travelling in California. Tallie spent most of her California days in a ceramics studio practicing her love of the technique. “I came up with it when I first moved to California and used a studio there. The thing about doing ceramics is that it’s a very primal, but also very grounded creative process. The very act of throwing on the wheel made me feel inspired and helped me to start envisioning my ideal future,” Tallie explains.
Turning Earth will run on a membership basis, which is a concept Tallie saw during her travels in America. It’s a concept that is used in most UK gyms but is yet to be used in arts studios. Tallie tells me why it is she decided to run Turning Earth on this method, “with cuts to public services and a need for new models for collaborative work, and the creative flowering that happens in recession when people begin to review their commitment to the rat race, accessible, well-managed craft-facilities will fill a hole in peoples lives.”
Tallie is running a really great crowdfunding campaign and has managed to gain huge awareness for her project in a short space of time by holding a launch event at a friends studio next door to the proposed site for Turning Earth. The 250 people who attended all shared an experience that Tallie says ‘was the best night of my life’. The launch event went down a storm and Tallie provided guests with a laptop to make their pledge. “The event confirmed for me exactly why we were doing this, and the queues of people signing up for something I’d worked so hard to realise actually made me melt. It was one of the best nights of my life so far and everyone keeps commenting on how there was this incredibly warm atmosphere, as though you could talk to anyone. And since then, every time someone makes a pledge I get a little tingle. I can’t wait to spend time in this community once we’re open. Potters are the world’s loveliest people anyway. That’s a fact.”
Crowdfunding is a great way of not only raising funds but a community of people who invest in your idea and will continue to do so. This is exactly what Tallie has done, offering membership as rewards she has instantly gained people who will continue to use the studio. Emily was keen to ask Tallie why crowdfunding? “Crowdfunding is a great way of engaging a community directly in a product you are developing, and getting them behind it. It’s also a great pre-sale mechanism. For us, it’s primary role is as proof of concept for other funders, as it allows us to show definitively that we have a market. The all or nothing idea, and the time restriction gives people confidence and creates an incentive to action and that’s very important to a successful pre-sale.”
The studio is set to open in two large railway arches in Haggerston, it looks to be a beautiful location. Finally, I ask Tallie how long it took to find the perfect location. “About eight months, after a lot of false starts and dashed hopes, and months after I had just moved back to the UK when I was sofa-surfing, unemployed, and doing the whole thing alone. It took a lot of strength to keep picking myself up each time, and trying again. But the great news is that each time a venue proved to be not the right place, the next one was always better. That experience meant that when I found this space I knew in an instant it was right.”
Take a look at this fantastic project and share among friends: http://crowdfunder.co.uk/turning-earth-ceramics-studio/