Creative industries

Skye potter’s overseas success

Skye based pottery maker Patricia Shone has joined the ranks of international sculptors with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The sculptor takes her inspiration from the dramatic island scenery to produce her ceramic bowls, boxes and jars. With a growing order book from visitors to her island studio, she wanted to see if others would be interested in her unique hand-formed ceramics.

Patricia said: “I had developed a following among collectors of craft work in Scotland and the UK, but I never thought that I would export.”

However, interest in Patricia’s ceramics - made to a traditional Japanese technique - was burgeoning and she took part in overseas craft shows to assess the potential market.

In addition, Patricia attended a HIE course for businesses preparing to export. Over two days, the business owners learned the ins and outs of exporting and how to grow demand for their products through social media.

Patricia continued: “I now export to Europe, Canada and Australia. HIE’s course gave me confidence to know how to export and even though I sell one-off specialised pieces, I feel that what I learned about online sales and the process of exporting them has made a tremendous difference.

“I fire my pots using a traditional Japanese technique and I would love to have some of my pieces going to Japan. I am working with HIE to explore the possibility.

“I would say to others thinking of taking their work abroad, not to be intimidated. Exporting small numbers of products is perfectly feasible and with social media, you can reach foreign markets much more easily.”

Martin Johnson, HIE’s regional head of sectors, inward investment and international trade, said: “We are delighted to be supporting artists like Patricia to take their beautiful artisan pieces to an international audience. Exporting doesn’t have to be mass market, many times it is specialised, bespoke items that are underpinning our export markets and furthering the region's reputation for craftsmanship.”

HIE is running another course, like the one Patricia attended in Inverness in February. 

Further information is available at http://www.hie.co.uk/internationaltrade

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