This month, as we hope you're all enjoying your ventures into clay mobile making with May's kit, we caught up with Yorkshire-based ceramicist Amy Thomas about all things pottery.
We loved hearing how Amy got into pottery (from a career as a midwife!), her inspiration from the natural world and the excitement and unpredictability of opening the kiln door to new creations.
From her home, farmhouse pottery studio and place of sanctuary, up in the wild Brontë Moors, here's Amy...
How did you first get into ceramics?
I’ve always had a love of ceramics and collected pottery from all over the world. But it was after watching The Great Pottery Throwdown in 2015 that I was inspired to locate a wheel throwing evening class.
At the time I was a stay-at-home parent (following a full time career as a midwife) and felt I needed a creative outlet to focus on once in a while. I was hooked from the moment my hands touched the wet clay!
Fast-forward a few years and I now have my own little home studio and enjoy selling my small batch pottery online and at local craft fairs.
Can you tell us how your first project went?
Not great to be honest! Wheel thrown ceramics is a skill which requires lots of practice and patience. I persevered with my first attempt at a bowl, which eventually came out as a wonky and heavy bottomed pot, but with oh so much pride attached!
I still use the mini bowl for salt on the kitchen table and it makes me appreciate how far I have come on my pottery journey so far.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am inspired by the nature that surrounds me here in my home town of Haworth, West Yorkshire, and also from my travels around the world.
I adore all things botanical and floral so my pottery often reflects this love and I tend to make a lot of ceramic planters and vases! I would say my style is simple, beautiful and has a romantic edge – inspired by the rolling moorlands of the Bronte sisters playground that I’m lucky enough to call home.
What do you love most about the process?
I really enjoy the whole process from starting with a wet lump of clay to holding a finished pot. Pottery usually takes a very long time to make with many process steps involved, so you have to have a love of each stage otherwise it could be very tedious.
I really enjoy the glazing design process due to the unpredictability of the end result. Sometimes you may have a glaze drip down the pot or a colour that comes out a little different with each firing, so when the kiln is eventually opened it is always a delightful surprise!
What would be your best advice for those starting out?
I would say practice, practice, practice. I was lucky enough to get a wheel at home and that’s when my pottery really started to improve, as I could have a play on the wheel more frequently.
It's very much trial and error with the pottery process, so explore with simple forms to start with and progress to harder forms once you have mastered the basics.
As for starting out with glazing, focus on what glaze colours you are drawn to and make the effort to fire test tiles. I didn’t bother with this advice when I first started out and many a kiln shelf was ruined with runny glazes fusing the pot onto the shelf! Don’t feel you need to buy lots of equipment to start out with, evolve and see what works best for your own pottery journey.
I would also recommend following other potters you are inspired by on social media, for example through Instagram or Pinterest, as I have found I have an enthusiastic pottery community who can help me if I have any questions whilst at home in my studio.
What's next for you?
I have been working on my own website for the past few months (I usually sell my pottery through my Etsy shop), which I have been designing through the night when my little children are asleep!
My latest project is a series of ceramics inspired by our family holidays to West Cork, Ireland. My Wild Atlantic Way pottery is inspired by turquoise rock pools, salty sea air, dense green grasses and the cool blue Atlantic Ocean.
Thanks so much Amy, we loved hearing about your work!
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