What is my inspiration?
Food! From a young age I've always been interested in food, the family joke is that we would be the easiest people to poison, we try it and then ask what it was! I love trying new recipes and have my favourite bowls and plates for specific dishes. Food is something that can help us explore new cultures and to bring family and friends together, sharing recipes and of course the dishes themselves! I think 2020 has been such an strange time that spending time together cooking and gathering together to eat has an even more important role in keeping a connection with others.
How did I learn to make pottery?
After studying general crafts in university in England I decided to specialise in ceramics and was advised to go to The Design and Crafts council of Ireland's Pottery Skills course in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. This 2 year full time course taught me everything from throwing pots to developing glazes and maintaining kilns. After the course I stayed in Thomastown working with some fantastic potters while developing my own work. After another 5 years I decided to return to Belfast and set up there to continue making.
How do I make my pots?
It's quite a long process and I've a longer blog post on how I make with photos here, but the following is a brief overview of a fascinating process. I throw my pottery on a potter's wheel using a lovely rich red terracotta clay these pots are then left to firm up for a day before I refine the shapes by turning them upside down putting them back on the wheel and using a sharp tool to carve a smooth curve. If I'm making mugs or jugs I then add the handle which looks like a small clay strap. Every piece is then stamped with my name and given a light sponge down to tidy them up. Next in the process is firing them in an electric kiln but them must be absolutely dry first so that they don't crack or explode when the moisture tries to escape. After a first firing in the kiln to 950°C and then letting them cool down again which in my big kiln will take 3 days, they get dipped into my glaze which looks like grey double cream. The bases are sponged clean and they go back into the kiln for their final firing to melt the glaze at 1165°C. Once they've cooled they are ready to go home and be used!