Where better to start our series about makers in the community than right in the heart of Balsall Heath, on the Moseley Road? Housed in an intact Edwardian factory, The Old Print Works is a space that is open to all and facilitates designer-making and other things. We’ll cover more about The Old Print Works in another post but for now let’s meet Jutta.
Jutta runs the Tuesday sessions of Daily Thread, at the community textiles space based in The Old Print Works. Trained as a weaver, Jutta worked with communities and ran her own studio for ten years but, like so many in her position, found it difficult to make a living from solely that. Now Jutta has a day job but works as a volunteer, sharing her skills and supporting the community of Daily Thread users.
“I was very interested in maker spaces for professionals and non professionals and for communities to come together” Jutta says, whilst lining up a selection of girls tops. The space itself has lots of machines and resources for visitors to utilise and this is one of the latest things to be donated. She asks what they could be made into and shows some pictures of designs they’ve already made.
“Anybody can join.” Jutta goes on to say. “Some people know exactly what they want to do. Some people want to explore. Some people want to learn something. If they know what they want to do they can just get on with it. We will introduce them to the machines or help them to set up. If they’re not sure, we have lots of small projects to start them off with; knitting, sewing -. They can learn to spin. I’m not an expert in all of that but I would know who is and help them. Somebody wanted to do bead weaving so we sat down, both of us, had a couple of looks on YouTube and eventually we worked it out. Some people try out lots of things then find what they want to do and they can try out bigger projects. Some people come regularly. Some people are quite sporadic.
It’s good for community. It’s also good for artists to work with other people because that’s how you get ideas. That’s how you get skills. Often the conversations are just as important as the actual making.”
Jutta goes on to talk about how this exchange of skills, knowledge, views and aesthetics is something that can actually bring communities together and is proven to benefit mental health. She dreams of finding the masters of various skills in different communities of Balsall Heath to teach others and share.
“The other issue is that with increasing poverty people don’t have access to this machinery” she says. “If you can repair and show people how to repair it’s a very useful skill and resource.” Like for so many enterprises though, funding is a major concern, so for now, Daily Thread runs only because of the good work that Jutta and others do.
If you are a local master of a particular skill, or know of one, please contact us using the form above or let Jutta know directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can see their facebook page here.
Header image features Ted Ryan, a local artist who comes to use the space at Daily Thread.