News and Blog

Latest News & Blog Posts

January Tales: the story of MCDC

‘We are story tellers & talent spotters’ 

This January we will be celebrating and sharing stories about our award winning resident artist & makers, their handmade products and processes and our fabulous customers who have given them a new home.

We will share stories from our wonderful, rich heritage; from bustling fishmarket to craft and design powerhouse, from our ‘Spotted’ future makers to tales of a day in the life of a maker.

So, it’s Storytime! We want to share your January Tales too… So, if you bought your wedding ring from one of our makers, a piece of art for your first home, baby booties for a new addition to the family or personalised gifts for a loved one, we would love to hear from you.

You can share your story via email: – subject ‘Jan Tales’
Twitter: #JanuaryTales 


Our first story comes from Helen Rushworth; a little tale of parties, a struggling Man City, Doves and Tony Wilson…

“I moved in to Studio 3 (opposite the cafe) in October 1989 not long after finishing my MA in Ceramics at Staffordshire Poly. I shared the studio for the first few years with Alan Grieg who made lovely brightly painted pots and plates, and on Saturdays we spent many a tortured afternoon listening to Man City getting thrashed on the radio – how times have changed! I remained at the Craft Centre right up till 2002 when I left to create babies instead. I have loads of great memories – bizarre fancy dress parties, visits from our one time patron Tony Wilson, an unknown Doves playing a gig on the stage outside my door, Nigel’s delicious ciabattas and soups, lots of bickering over being ‘co-operative’, but mainly I remember it as being a fantastic place to work and share creative ideas with a bunch of like-minded folk. Long may it live.” – Helen Rushworth


Prince’s Trust intern, Ellen, wanted to contribute with this little tale of her week working for MCDC…

“I did a one-week work experience placement here with the Centre. I got to work with a few of the artists in their studios, and helped out with the sale preparations in space2. I really enjoyed my time; it has given me insight and more knowledge into how a craft business is run. I hope to go on to starting my own business in the future.” – Ellen


We meet talented lady and all-round great human, Nell Smith, and find her at a milestone on her own MCDC journey…

“Studio 20a was advertised just as I was finishing my MA in Textiles at MMU in 2008 and was starting to look around for a space to work from. I decided to go for it and quickly had to get a professional application together, including a business plan, with the help and encouragement of the lovely Liz Evans (aka Lily Greenwood). I got through the interview process and on the day of my final assessment at uni I got a call from Kate Day offering me the studio! It was meant to be. A few years in, Jane Blease and I decided to join forces in Studio 24 and in the next week we will be moving again next door to Studio 25 with Liz and Rachel (The Magpie’s Daughter).

There have been ups and downs over the years, but the help and support of the wonderful tenants and office staff mean there is no where else I’d rather be. I feel truly blessed to work in such a creative environment, doing what I love, surrounded by friends. My business would certainly not have evolved so successfully working in isolation. Roll on the next 6 years!” – Nell Smith


Sian Astley has been in touch via Twitter to tell us the story of a purchase she made at MCDC nearly twenty years ago…

“Still adore my Roman inspired terracotta artwork bought back in 1996(ish). Love it as much today as the day I bought it!” – @Moregeous

(Visit Sian’s Twitter page to see the piece in all its glory!)


Joseph Hartley, super-talented maker and winner of last year’s MMU Graduate Solo Show award (which led to his first solo show, ‘Every Step’), has shared with us a few thoughts about his leap into the designer-maker world…

“My name is Joseph Hartley, and I am a Butcher, Baker, Designer, Maker. I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in Three Dimensional Design with a 1st class Honours Degree.  

After graduating, I was incredibly proud to of been awarded the BDC New Designer of the year 2012, it was the most amazing start I could of asked for. And during my degree show I was over the moon to of been awarded the Manchester Craft and Design Centre’s solo show, which opened at the beginning of 2013. These things and more have meant that I have had the most amazing opportunities as a new Maker in my first two years.

Working from my workshop, which is located in Manchester, I now make objects from wood, cloth and clay which I sell from various platforms. One of which being Ferrious, a design store just a stones throw away from my workshop. I’ve have also kept a strong relationship with the university; I teach there one day a week on the same course that I studied on. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love for a living, and hope that I can carry on doing so.”

See more from Joe’s solo show at MCDC here


The course of true love might not run smooth but Alex Bird knows that, with a little help from the right  maker, getting the ring right can be plain sailing!a

“This is more of a winter tale than a January tale but I thought I’d share it anyway. At the end of last Summer I popped into RA Jewellery to have a chat about engagement rings. This was one of the biggest / scariest (?) purchases I’d ever have to make and was instantly put at ease by Anne. Having this initial chat was great and I immediately knew I wanted to use a local jeweller to make the ring. The whole process took a few weeks and I got regular updates from Anne, and was shown a selection of green sapphires to pick from. I eventually picked up the ring in November with the intention of proposing on Jan 1st (our anniversary) and my now fiance is so happy with the ring. The proposal itself was a rather strange affair whereby we were followed by a random dog who stuck with us when I popped the question.

Anyway, it was with the help of Anne that I was able to get the perfect ring and we will be forever grateful for that.”