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I have also been writing up some texts about myself and my work, initially for the open studios, but also (in edited form for an etsy shop I am setting up (about which more later when there’s something to see). Here they are. Any comments on what you’d like to see more or less of would be very welcome! Also a new banner/header above…

Inspirations

First and foremost the qualities of clay inspire me, its versatility, its textures, and the transformations of glaze and firing. I am a tactile person so how a thing feels is very significant to me. I enjoy throwing with smooth clay, contrasting satin and matt glazes and simple but interesting shapes.

I like simple, beautiful and useful things that can be used every day, adding that indefinable pleasure of the handmade to an otherwise routine moment, and I aim to make things that can share the pleasure with others. I am drawn to things from a time when everything was handmade, and enjoy the traditions of medieval and folk pottery as well as the innovations of contemporary studio ceramics.

Beautiful things hold that quality in themselves, like a striped beach pebble with smooth curves. I am interested in finding those forms, together with the textures, colours and lines that express the form and its making.

I am a bit of a magpie, storing up inspirations, ideas and interesting images from everything around me: the presence of the sea or an oak tree, but also peeling signs, ladders, jubilee clips, the pattern of holes in an enamel ladle, the dance of shadows and light. I guess they make me who I am, and somehow percolate through into my work…

My story

I took the leap in September 2012.

I left my job managing Hackney Museum to become a full time ceramicist. Since then I have been working hard to extend my practical skills (and stamina), developing the forms I enjoy, exploring and refining their proportions and working towards a business plan. Now I get up in the morning keen to get on, I love being in the studio all day playing with mud and find it fulfilling to be able to spend my week making things.

After leaving school I did an art foundation course and found myself working in the ceramics studio 4 days a week and loving it. I also found time for photography and print-making. Today these three media still appeal. I have a cunning plan for how all 3 may yet come together.

At that age I didn’t have the courage of my creative convictions, and went off to university, got involved in politics and coops, wondered what to do next. Realised I didn’t want to spend my life on a low income in rented rooms with ugly things and so needed an interesting way to earn an income.

I spent 15 years working in museums. I learned a lot of surprising things, enjoyed working on many exhibitions and websites and completed a phd. Eventually I also learned something about myself and realised I needed to be more hands on, more creative. And so I leaped.

I am on a low income again but in pursuit of beauty.

The process

Ceramics is a slow discipline. The clay will only do certain things at certain times and it takes as long as it takes to get to the next stage. Learning what can be done when, and how to successfully push this is an art in itself.

So far my work is following this process:

  • Explore the different shapes a particular item can be
  • Select the most pleasing shapes
  • Refine them
  • Consider how the pleasing shape of one item, eg mug, relates to the shape of another, eg bowl
  • Identify the specific methods for repeating the same shape

The making cycle (8 days min):

  • Weigh and prepare the balls of clay
  • Throw the basic forms
  • Drying to leather hard
  • Re-centre the pieces on the wheel to turn the bases
  • Drying
  • Cleaning of rims and finger marks
  • Drying
  • Storing until enough work has been made
  • Pack into kiln
  • Bisque firing, transforming clay into ceramic over 24 hrs
  • Unpacking and storing
  • Dip in main glaze
  • Dip in additional glaze
  • Clean bases
  • Pack into kiln
  • Glaze firing to 1260º over 48 hrs
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