Please Introduce Yourself
I'm Taz Thornton and craftwork is one of my favourite escapes. When I'm not at my studio, I'm either speaking, or coaching and supporting others, or sometimes writing books! Much of my artistic work comes out of nature, the world around us and an ancient spiritual path known as shamanism.
Tell us a bit about your background as a craftsperson
I've been creating things for as long as I can remember. In another lifetime, I was a bear maker - bringing to life artist bruins, crafted from mohair, fully jointed and even with growlers, and they ended up being shipped all over the world. My bear making days came to an end when I moved to the south west and just didn't have the space for all the materials. It was many years before my creative juices began to flow properly again and that all came as a result of working with shamans and medicine people. That's a much longer story and would take up far more space than I have here but, suffice to say, the lessons were deep and gave me a fresh way of looking at the world - and that was the key to unlocking all that creativity that had been tucked away inside me for so long.
Tell us about your work
Most - if not all - of the craft work I do now comes from meditation and dreams. Tribal peoples sometimes refer to this as "bridging the dream"... it's when we dream of an object and then 'bridge' the gap by creating it in real life. What I create depends on whatever I dream of, or see in meditations, or through a deeper practice known as journeying - it's a bit like a really deep meditation, usually to a drum beat.
I make all kinds of things - from drums and rattles to carves staves, jewellery and sometimes painted artwork. I use all kinds of materials - often recycled - including wood, leather, bone, stones and crystals. Sometimes I decorate pieces with acrylics, sometimes with earth pigments, sometimes with a pyrography pen that burns designs into the surface of wood or leather.
Where do you search for creative inspiration?
Everywhere. As my inspiration comes mostly from dreams and meditations, it really can come from any place. Sometimes I'll take myself off on a meditative walk (known as a 'medicine walk') and be inspired by something as simple as the breeze whispering through leaves.
What do your workshops at Unique Cottage Studios Involve?
I run a number of different workshops at Unique, and usually by appointment. People can come along and birth their own traditional hand drum, using a wooden frame and ethically-sourced rawhide, or they can make a traditional healing or dance rattle, spend an afternoon 'channelling' medicine jewellery, paint stones or make their own divination set. In these workshops, I sometimes teach people how to journey or include meditations, so they can really get in touch with the spirit and energy of the pieces they create. Who knows what they might be able to teach us?
How can we get in touch with you?
You can find me on Facebook - www.facebook.com/FirechildShamanism or visit www.firechild-shamanism.co.uk. You can message me direct through Facebook too, or email firstname.lastname@example.org