This month’s Focus on People column is all about one woman’s intriguing craft and the artistic inspiration she derives from her local surroundings.
Carli Porter has recently moved to Abergavenny. After living in a variety of locations she had a strong urge to move back to Wales when she and her husband wed. They searched Wales for somewhere to settle and very happily chose Abergavenny to be their home. The bustling historic market town, friendly people and inspiring surroundings were just the ticket! It is these surroundings and her Welsh heritage that provide Carli with the inspiration for her work; Bone Carving. Some might say that bone carving is an unusual craft for a young lady to be doing in Wales, but Carli explains the journey of how she arrived at such a skill…
‘After graduating from University College Falmouth with a degree in Contemporary Craft specialising in glass, I was offered a job in a glass blowing studio in New Zealand for a year. It was here that my interest in bone carving was first sparked. I instantly fell in love with the intricate, beautiful jewellery made from bone and wanted to have a go myself. I did, and have not put down my tools since. Through dedicated time and hard work at the bench I have developed a range of jewellery carved from bone. I particularly enjoy doing commissions as it is a treat to turn a customers idea into a unique, tangible object.’
It is clear that Carli’s Welsh heritage is inspirational for her work as she explores Celtic designs and love spoons. But why bone? What is so special about this material?
‘I find it immensely satisfying to create something beautiful from an organic bi-product. I am constantly on the look out for interesting organic materials to carve like horn, antler, tooth and bone. Bone has great creative and tactile potential, it is soft and warm to the touch. When worn against the skin, over time bone picks up your natural oils; self polishing, changing its colour to light honey gold.’
Carli explains that ‘bone has been used for centuries to make knife handles, crochet hooks and even babies teething chews in the Victorian times. However since the invention of plastic, this natural material has declined in its popularity for making such items. I want to breath life into this ancient craft here in Wales and hopefully inspire others to use this fantastic material that sadly goes to waste.’
Carli works from her studio at Craft Renaissance, she finds this supportive, creative atmosphere the perfect working environment.
‘To be able to bounce ideas around with other makers is invaluable. I enjoy talking to the public as they come to visit the gallery and workshops. Often I am their first contact with someone working in bone and it is a pleasure to introduce people to this craft.’
Bone carvings can last centuries, Carli carves each one with respect and care to create a treasure that she hopes someone will want to pass down over generations to come.
After living in a variety of locations Carli’s roots are firmly set in Abergavenny where this wonderful town, nestled in seven hills and immersed in history will prove to be a source of inspiration for many years to come.
You may visit Carli at her studio: Craft Renaissance, Kemeys Commander, Between Usk and Abergavenny. Pop on in or email to arrange a time: firstname.lastname@example.org