Lindsay Draws – The Day Job vs Making it as a Maker

Lindsay Draws is a woodworker, potter and youth worker. Her instagram @andsomeplayers is a fascinating insight into the trials, tribulations and joys of being a maker. Hailing from Chicago, Lindsay came to London after graduating from The New School in New York.  She fell in love and made London her home, where she started working with marginalised young people, specifically those that have been affected by sexual violence. Her job revolves around participation sessions from the young people, working in groups and using creative practices to help them to engage and talk openly. Working part time has enabled her to devote time to pottery, woodwork and producing a collection of zines.

‘My first love is drawing’ she says, a talent that came naturally. She got involved in the UK ‘zine-scene’, selling her popular multi-zine project about her Uncle Tim, a man she never got to know when he was alive but she became intrigued by. The story starts with ‘The Man Called Uncle Tim‘, exploring the Quaker religion, attitudes to homosexuality and how Uncle Tim came to live in a gay commune in Raven Rocks, Ohio. The story develops over four zines, engaging and personal, they are a glimpse into the quirks of family through conversations and light-hearted drawings, set within the beautiful forests and landscapes of Ohio.  Zines are a great way to tell a story, especially niche subjects, Lindsay explains. ‘If there is something you have been thinking about a lot, and you want to share it, it’s an easy way to share that thing.’ She has been working with her partner on a zine called Alerta that looks at what blackbirds can teach us about every day direct action.

Her talents also stretch to pottery and woodwork.  After first learning how to throw pots on the wheel in high school, Lindsay revisited pottery at Hackney Community College. ‘I moved here as an adult, it’s super hard to make friends in London, I was bored and depressed and thought maybe I should do pottery.’ Rekindling her love for pottery led to taking a space at Turning Earth, a pottery studio in Hackney. A work exchange with the studio meant that Lindsay could get a free membership by working one day a week for Turning Earth, as well as time to develop her style and voice – a process that can be a long journey.

Her first entry into woodwork was with woodturning which she loved. The similarities between using a potters wheel and a lathe were evident, building up the pot and taking away on the lathe. Lindsay learned to turn at Hackspace where she found herself in awe of the beauty of wood, igniting the idea of pursuing a career working with wood which led to a one year joinery course at Building Crafts College in Stratford, a risk that she considered worth taking. Having no idea of the difference between carpentry and joinery, the college recommended starting with Level 2 Bench Joinery.

‘This was my introduction to joinery, I just totally fell in love with the idea of two bits of wood held together just by themselves, it seemed magical to me. That’s what I really wanted to pursue.’

She then found Blackhorse Workshop with a fellow student and signed up for a studio to set about becoming a professional wood and pottery worker, starting with a couple of commissions.  It became apparent that to make a living it was not going to be easy due to a lower demand for hardwood furniture made with traditional joinery when there is so much manufactured furniture available. Building up a business as a crafts person also has unexpected challenges and time constraints.

‘An independent crafts person who earns a living does not just need to be skilled at their craft, you need to be a good photographer of your work, you need to be good on social media, marketing, talking about yourself. Only a handful of people are able to do all of these things well.’

‘I’m a really slow worker and because I am really careful about what I do, that’s just not conducive to making a living.’ She explains, ‘I’ve cut through the idea that I am going to be able to sell furniture and make a living off of it, I’m just doing an apprenticeship to myself.’

For now she is taking the time to fine tune her skillset by working on her own furniture pieces which will enable Lindsay to build up a portfolio of products including a collection of ceramic teapots using off-cuts salvaged from the workshop that are used for lids or steam bent to make handles. She believes that without the long-term apprenticeships that were once available to learning traditional crafts it is now up to the amateur or hobbyist to keep these skills alive. Above all Lindsay enjoys what she does and that is first and foremost. ‘Breaking even in what I am doing would be enough for me.’

What is the best thing about Blackhorse Workshop?
People are really generous with their time and their knowledge. If you ask someone for advice they are always willing to talk to you, if you’re working on your own in a shed you don’t have that.

What are you currently working on?
A bathroom cabinet with drawers with individual compartments, almost like a apothecary’s cabinet.

Buy Lindsay’s products here.