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Artisans wanted Agen area


Emma C
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Me neither Dotty - I hate Ikea - it's bland and horrible.

The problem is now that people won't pay for time because they are so used to cheap mass produced items. My brother is an amazing artist - and a perfectionist - but if he charged a reasonable hourly rate for his work he'd starve.  Likewise I do embroidery (needlepainting, gold work stumpwork, cutwork etc) - I have done exhibition embroidery, public gallery / demonstration days etc - most people who watch the demonstrations are amazed at how slow and painstakingly intricate the work is and the number of  hours of work that go into creating some of these pieces.  Like my brother, if I asked someone to pay me a reasonable hourly rate I'd never sell anything.  Becaue of this I tend to do work just for myself and close friends / family - i.e. those who value the work.

On a slightly different tack one of the most rewarding pieces of work I have ever done though was working on a local partnership project with kids from a deprived area.  Our guild were asked if we would participate in the project to help kids create a large wallhanging i.e. by sharing skills ideas etc and it was the most fun ever.  We used all sorts of materials and techniques - really wacky stuff to spark the kids imagination and had an amazing response - we regularly got 30 kids (and a significant proportion of those were boys) turning up to do embroidery every Wednesday lunch time.  They were so proud of the finished hanging and it was totally unique. Brilliant.

Kathie

Ps - there is a bit of difference between this original/unique work and repairing electrics or plumbing though!

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Robin, I have spent some years working with Gifted and Talented pupils in English schools, some of it in school, some at the Department for Education. I have found that in school there is a much greater appreciation of the need for artisanship than at the DfES, where such things are seen as 'vocational', which is a euphemism for 'less able need only apply', whereas a good artisan requires a high level of organisation and evaluative skills which only come with high ability. I once suggested a workshop entitled 'Stop that Grinling Gibbons and get on with your Maths', but none of the civil servants knew what I was on about.

We (at school) now run carpentry and joinery classes which are picking up a lot of interest from kids, and showing a lot of talent. We have been very successful in the Arkwright Scholarships, which are about design and engineering. All pupils are offered these opportunities, although not all take them up. These courses can do fantastic things for kids' self-esteem and eventually their life chances, though I imagine few will end up pursuing these subjects as career options, for as others have said speed and economy are now favoured above skill and detailed care.

So - to cut a late-night ramble short - some of us do see a need to give young people the opportunity to explore and develop their skills and interests in areas such as carpentry, metalwork, design and fabrication. Sadly our political masters don't see the real point, which is about maintaining a skill base, about personal development, about the aesthetic and about craft. They wouldn't have gone a bundle on William Morris, despite a local college being named after him!

I am trying to organise a Gifted and Talented masterclass in the maintenance and setting of planes and chisels at the moment...

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There seems to be a world of difference here between the hobby / vocational type approach to work that Chris is taking because of the unique craftsman quality of the work he is doing (and his personal circumstances) and the work most of us have difficulty finding someone to commit to.  The basic plumbing, electrics etc isn't a high end cratfsmen project - I don't need an 'artiste' to do my wiring!  I hear what you are saying about having to have a degree of  flexibility when quoting but that shouldn't stop you being able to say yes or no (or even reply) with an approximate deadline. 

Btw Ian, if I am concerned that my electrics are dangerous I'm hardly going to employ someone who doesn't know what they are doing to replace them!

Kathie

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[quote user="Dick Smith"]in school there is a much greater appreciation of the need for artisanship than at the DfES, where such things are seen as 'vocational', which is a euphemism for 'less able need only apply'. [/quote]

Well said, Dick. And to make matters worse, it's often made impossible (probably always - personal experience shows it to be true in at least 4 6th forms in our area) for a student to study "vocational" and "academic" subjects side by side. My youngest son wanted to do this and eventually, due to an unfortunate series of cock-ups made by one of the colleges to which he applied, that's what he's managed to do. (BTW that reads exactly as intended: they cocked up and left a loophole which we were able to exploit). It would appear, however, that the DfES seem to feel that someone who wants to study a craft has no need of any further academic qualifications and no ambition to continue to university. We were lucky, as we were prepared and able to argue for his cause, and he's now studying AS levels and an NVQ side by side, although this means doing the NVQ as  a part-time evening course. Not only does this mean he's studying alongside mature students already working in the craft, and hence learning from them as well as his tutor, it also means he's hearing about all the downsides and pitfalls of his chosen area at first hand now, rather than finding out for himself too late. At the same time, among other things, he's studying business, so that he will have a basic understanding upon which to build should he decide to run his own business later.

It's such a pity. Yes, it is about craft, but it's also about earning a living, understanding how to set up and run a business, and not having to make such defining life and career choices so early on that there's no turning back. At least Chris and people like him have reached a stage in life where they are "grown up" enough to make choices for themselves and their families. We're forcing kids to do that at 16, without giving them enough time or information to do it.

Sorry, I'm not sure I've made much sense.............

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[quote user="hastobe"]Btw Ian, if I am concerned that my electrics are dangerous I'm hardly going to employ someone who doesn't know what they are doing to replace them!
[/quote]

As I said in the posts, I was talking in general terms as people do bring over UK people to do their work.  As I said, I know of one person who did that and another TV series - but I said this before and you must have missed reading everything I wrote !

Ian


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[quote user="Chris Head"]

I really hope you've found something that is less hassle for you Heath, I'm not a builder but I can imagine the frustrations that might be involved...the builders I come across tend to be rather stressed out, perhaps fate dealt you a good hand[/quote]

I'm not looking for sympathy here Chris. I class anyone as a 'builder' who works in any building related trade and is registered within the French system. The issue is that it is often virtually impossible to manage the expectations of ex-pat clients and high charges without getting into an overload situation. Possibly in the 'Art' trades with a good reputation behind you, you can charge what you like and clients will wait 6 months to come to the top of the list.

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Well ya got some sympathy Heath, like it or not[:D]!

I can see the complexities of dealing with clients at a distance, I think it all very much depends on how you structure your business. I'm on a project at the moment where the clients are back in the UK for a few months, they're kept up to date with progress by telephone and email and pay when I ask for it, I have a family to support and can't really wait for yonks for payment. I've ensured that there is enough 'float' available to be able to purchase what I need in order to keep the project moving along smoothly. I'm 100% sure of what it is I'm doing in their absence because we discussed it at length in advance of their departure, the advance planning, as always has paid off.

You make perfect sense Betty, the world has changed somewhat and there seems to be alot more pressure on the youngsters than there was, I might be misinterpreting though. Industry has changed somewhat in the UK over the last 20 years and I guess the skills required of todays youngsters has rather changed also.

Dick your post is worthy of a seperate discussion. Todays marketplace can't be a very easy place for the next generation, young Artisans need to learn that they have to be as creative with their businesses and life skills as they do with their product or service, the world is getting an ever tougher place to compete in and just to be good at what one does is no longer a guarantee. One has to grow and evolve all the time, stand still for a second and you get left behind.

I'd like to browbeat with ya in the woodworking section later Robin, if you're around?

edit....I didn't mean just Robin!

 

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I truly feel that the only real problem in dealing with artisans is the lack of communication and the stress that this brings to the customer and ultimately the artisan who gets it in the ear when he does turn up. 

 It doesn't matter which country you're in or which nationality you are,.  If you say, I will come along and view the job on Monday when you have no intention of keeping to this then it's no good to anyone. 

Why not say I've got loads of work on but can come 2 weeks on Monday then go really over the top and get a diary write it down, turn up on the Monday as arranged.  At the end of the visit say I'm pushed for the devis right now but can get it to you in two weeks, not in two days (unless you can deliver in 2 days).

Do these artisans who promise but never show turn up to anyone on the right day do you think, i.e. do they say to 10% of their customers an achievable date and only p off the 90% or do they stress themselves out completley all of the time by over promising and under delivering on ever single piece of work.

It must be horrible to turn on the wrong day everyday and get hassle from everyone you meet.  so why do it?  I don't believe it's necessary at all even if you need to run multiple projects at once in order to ensure a good order book you can still be honest, people like honesty even if you said I can't come back now for 3 weeks, as long as you do come back in 3 weeks most people would accept that.

I know this is suggesting all artisans are the same, they are not we have a great electrician who always turns up when he says, stays till the job is finished and charges a fair price.  He is the only one we've experienced though,  and we hve renovated lots of properties both sides of the water.

just stepping off my soap box........

 

 

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>I truly feel that the only real problem in dealing with artisans is the lack of communication and the stress that this brings to the customer and ultimately the artisan who gets it in the ear when he does turn up.< 

That works both ways Jpe, I expect  lines of communication to be open to a client as well, I wouldn't work for anyone who was evasive or non communicative.

Otherwise your post is spot on...

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Communication is indeed the key and as Chris says it has to work both ways. The client/Artisan relationship is always changing, for example the Artisan may fall behind through lack of availability of materials, personnel off sick or a multitude of other reasons and in my experience a once perfectly reasonable client will take the view that the Artisan is stringing him a line and communication breaks down. I used to avoid clients who clearly thought that builders are by nature unreliable and dishonest (which they, the client, usually makes very clear when you first meet). There will inevitably be a tension in the relationship simply because money is involved.  

Making appointments which you have no intention of keeping is a peculiarly French trait and they seem unaware of the affect this has on client /builder relations often before the job is underway. 

A friend of mine who has never been in the building trade tells me it is all about 'managing expectations' which I suspect was one of the buzz phrases in his area of business. I tried to get my head around this but in most cases clients 'expect' their job to be done first, completed tomorrow and not to pay the bill for 6 months.

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First of all - do I remember Jane Bown - one of hers was the first 'proper' photographs I ever bought, for a sum as a student I couldn't really afford. Trouble was that no-one had bothered to fix it, and it lasted about three months. In those days you could pay (I think it was The Observer) for any photo that had appeared in the paper.

I remember in the 70s writing dozens of references for apprenticeships, in Wandsworth at that time we had a lot of small 'craft' workshops, bookbinders, cabinet makers and the like. There were also the much prized London Transport apprenticeships; then along came Maggie, the little companies (they couldn't 'compete' on price, of course) went to the wall and the skills base shrank.

Trouble is now that there are not many small employers and larger companies certainly don't expect to pay for training their workers, that has to be done before they arrive - a ridiculous idea. One of my favourite rants is the way that young men aren't put into the company of older men, and so don't grow up with any sense of tradition, or in many cases, any idea of how to comport themselves.

So the government sets up 'schemes' - and these are always likely to be a bit rough around the edges. But probably better than nothing!

Yes the plane sharpening will be figure-of-eight on a wet wheel. And a lot of chisels. My son (a builder, not a carpenter) phoned me recently to ask if he could borrow my chisels (in fact he had already come and got them) - well, you can fill in all the gaps on that one, can't you?

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Here's a curious little tale. I teach English to lots of Polish students. Not surprising really, at the moment. Many of them fall into those stereotypes.....builders, roofers, brickies, etc.  One guy, who is working as a bricklayer, comes every week to my class with his wife. They are working hard to improve their English, and he is working equally hard during the day on a construction site.

Last week, he came along to the lesson with a small photo album. One of his friends said to me at the break "You should look at this". It was incredible. Photograph after photograph of the most beautiful sculptural stonework. Statues, garden ornaments, restoration projects in old churches, fireplaces.....in marble, sandstone.......exquisite work of a very high quality. He told me in his limited English that he has a fine art degree and a masters in sculpture and he renovated a marble bathroom in the presidential palace in Warsaw for Lech Walesa. And he's working as a brickie.

He's given up all this, and a beautiful stone and wood house with a lovely garden (in the photos) which he built himself, to come to England to make money for a "better life", and to be known as a bricklayer. And meanwhile, many Brits are moving to France, to get a different sort of "better life"and to be known as an "artisan". And maybe some school leavers in the UK can't get building or craft apprenticeships any more, because skilled master craftsmen from another country will do the job just as cheap It's a funny old world, isn't it??

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The removal of the traditional apprenticeships in favour of cellege based education was a big mistake (imo).  College lessons simply don't prepare students they need good old fashioned practical experience working alongside another experienced professional. One of my brothers is an engineer and he has had a nightmare trying to find young engineers - they have all the pieces of paper but can't actually do the job.  Without experience no-one is prepared to take them on and if no-one takes them on....

Kathie

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[quote user="Chris Head"]

Progression of technology over the last few decades hasn't helped, there is a machine to do just about everything nowadays, machines don't need tea breaks or annual holidays and they don't make mistakes.

very true chris, but they all still need someone to press the buttons [:D]

You must remember the days before forwarders were the in thing and most wood was felled by us ( tree fellers ) and pulled out by horse or tractor, ah the county 4x4, still need folk to work them and there is still a need for tree fellers in Scotland and Wales in the high hills. Machines are great but still need human intervention....

 

[/quote]
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Back home in Ecosse its still your average guy with little intelligence and a strong back that still rips trees out of the earth and punts them towards the local pulp/paper mill. I think fortunately for the foresters in the game in Scotland have the benefit of being quite steep hills and a continuity of work for years to come. I know some of the hills i planted during my crazy years at this game were so steep the ploughs could not keep a grip and we had to do it with mattocks !!!!!!!!!!

i still remember it fondly, probably cos i was fit as a fiddle and the effort was minimal [:D]

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my last post was not being derogative to foresters just that if you were at the least bit smart you would opt for something better where you are not continually stooped over and soaking wet, and man hauling trees down to the earth crashing thru brash and ripping your forearms and face to shreds, lovely picture ?

Its a bitch of a job but brill in the summer.

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well on occasions i did wear the kilt, however thistles, like a certain brand of beer,  'reach parts others cant' and is not pleasureable, well maybe in certain circumstances [;-)]  now we have to be careful here, perhaps chris H will want to be an honoury Scot just to try this, being an outgoing chap !!!

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Outgoing Hugh, yes, coming out is a different thing altogether[:D]  I hear that protective chainsaw kilt technology has changed somewhat since your day? Actually I have worn a kilt before, it was of those dares I wish I hadn't taken on, by the end of the evening I'd been stripped and chucked off a jetty in the middle of winter[Www]
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