Origin – A Makers’ Co-operative
Origin, a maker’s co-operative in Carmarthen, is a shop I am very involved with as many of you who have “liked” my Facebook page will know. Origin is a wonderful shop and I am so pleased and proud to be part of it. And it is such a really nice bunch of people.
When I first joined Origin last year I spent time looking at all the work of the other makers, trying to memorize the products to help customers. I felt humbled by the wealth of talent. And then I thought about the hours of work and the years of experience, designing, altering, developing of skills and styles that had gone into these finished articles. By now I have also been privileged to see how some makers’ work is altering and evolving over time.
The Origin Makers.
Obviously there are talented painters (list below), photographers, ceramicists (both functional ware and sculptural) and jewellers working in silver, glass, celtic beadwork to recycled copper pipe and water tanks. There’s a felt artist, a glass artist, a pen maker, a willow weaver, Jude specialises in marbling on a variety of materials. Rob is a highly skilled cabinet maker who has developed a wonderful range of turned and carved spoons recently, Aled makes very stylish, simple, elegant pieces out of Welsh slate. Then there are textiles – felted clothes and the most delicate knitted and woven work. I use the beautiful hand forged hooks to make the coat racks shown in the photos.
There are commitments to being part of a co-operative. We have to contribute towards the rent and rates and we take turns stewarding the shop. Regular meetings further the progress of the shop. We have to clean, change the window displays, organise the displays in the shop, keep on top of packaging, finance, updating paperwork, the website, Facebook page and so on. Some people have been involved for many years and have contributed so much time and energy, some are new or maybe shy about contributing… Guess that is like a cross section of life really. And who knows what else is going on in people’s lives? Also we are in a rural area so many of us are an hour’s drive from the shop which doesn’t make it easy.
I have always chosen to sell more through shops than craft fairs for several reasons. I value the high street and think that if I want to be able to shop locally I should try to sell locally. My work might be wanted for a birthday or wedding anniversary and these don’t neatly fit into when fairs happen. Also, when I started selling I was caring for my partner’s mother so was not really free to set up, steward and take down stands at craft fairs.
When I heard that Origin were looking for new members last year I was interested as I was by then free to steward and Carmarthen is a different type of town from the places I am used to being in. It has a larger catchment area but not so orientated towards tourism. I have always been in favour of co-operative so that was the icing on the cake.