My process starts with a wheel thrown pot made considering proportion and functionality so that it is useful, comfortable and well crafted. Each pot is then a ready canvas for the layering of colour and drawings that characterise my work.
I use paper resist and sgraffito in my decorating process, building up layers of colour and texture with mark making as well as drawing freehand into the surface. I am influenced greatly by printmaking techniques and use these to create the illustrations. All of my pigments and underglazes are mixed by hand in order to have an infinite palette of subtly different hues
It all begins with drawing and I have several sketchbooks of different sizes on the go at all times. I work from original photography I have taken of seaweed, lichen and other subject matter, as well as reference books. I work on abstracting the literal image until a recognisable but stylised version of the plant is achieved.
The design is cut with a very precise craft knife in paper and is the applied to the clay surface in layers to allow for several colours to be built up. The detail is then carved into the clay using a pin tool or even sometimes a sewing needle to get the very fine lines. I have made my own tools to get the precise line I need. The details are all drawn freehand and once a cut-out illustration is used it can’t be used again. I feel like the spontaneity of drawing freehand is an important part of the process so copying carefully from an existing pot or illustration doesn’t work. This also means that every pot I make will be unique and can’t be recreated exactly.
The surface design is applied before firing and so there’s only a certain amount of time when I can work on it before it is too dry and will crack. This means I can only work on a limited number of pots at a time and this slower pace really suits my intention to focus on studio pottery rather than a high production yield. I need to consider the balance of colour and the placement of the drawings for each pot and would feel unsatisfied if I had to rush them.
Once fired, the pots are glazed and fired again which develops the colours and makes them ready for use.