How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I have always loved drawing and making things, ever since I was a child. I remember once when I was 11 or 12 being on holiday and moulding lots of little mice out of the dripping wax from candles – I like to do things with my hands! I’m happiest when I’m making things, but I have a full-time job doing something completely unrelated and not creative. Knowing I have my wreaths and drawing and other projects to immerse myself in at home is my raison d’etre really. It keeps me inspired and motivated.

 

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

A couple of years ago I saw a photo of a Roman laurel crown made of metal. It had been excavated and had a beautiful Verdigris patina. It really inspired me and sparked a project in my mind. I remember looking very closely at hedgerow plants and wondering how I could create little metal leaves and petals and make them look as delicate and imperfect as they are in real life. What followed was an investigative process – I trawled the internet for a long time and went to a lot of hardware stores trying to find the right materials. My Dad gave me his old soldering iron and taught me how to solder – I’m a bit of a master now! Initially I made very simple replicas of those roman laurel wreaths but I’m now making much more intricate things and I time them so they are seasonal – daffodils and bluebells for Spring, hedgerow leaves and berries for Autumn, and then lots of stars for Christmas.

 

How do you approach studio time – get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making?   Do you work better at certain times of the day?

As I work full time, I don’t spend as much time as I would like making my wreaths. Often I have to sit and make things late into the evening when I’m tired but it can be a relaxing and meditative process. When you have many demands on your time during the day and you face email onslaught and office stress, coming home and making something with your hands can be the ultimate de-stressor. My favourite way to work though is at weekends – I get up early and turn on the radio in my studio and try to work for several hours.

 

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

Whenever I go for a walk, I collect leaves and berries to take home and study at my desk. It’s always a challenge figuring out how to make a new leaf or flower out of copper sheet. I would like to experiment with different metals, and I would also love to get my hands on an enamelling kiln and experiment with enamel on copper. I have lots of ideas for the future.

 

What would/has been your ideal commission?
I’ve really enjoyed working with Samantha Allen from The Shop Floor Project. I’ve created a number of collections with them and I always feel Sam understands my work well and comes up with great ideas.

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you?

All work and commissions I’ve had have come through Instagram. It’s the greatest marketing tool I have and enables makers like myself to showcase their work and get attention. I love taking photographs of my work and finding creative ways to display them. I’ve also got two very photogenic scruffy lurchers that feature quite a lot on my page, they always get attention! 

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?
I did recently see Luke Jerram’s Gaia at the Wills Memorial Building in Bristol – a huge rotating earth suspended from the ceiling in a cathedral like space – it was strangely moving. I tried to take my boyfriend to see it the next day but the queue was huge – word had spread.

 

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?
I hope that the workload at my day job calms down a bit so I have time to do more creative work at home. I hope to build upon what I’ve done, do more commissions and create new wreaths. I’m always inspired and always have new ideas to work on.

 

 

How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I have made things from wood and been very practically minded since I was young but growing up there was no perceived value in hand-made – it was all about cheap flatpack furniture and the throw away culture. Recently there is a very healthy backlash to this and people are thinking a lot more about where things are made and how long that will last. This movement has allowed me to start to make high-quality work with hand tools. If I am honest, I think I have always loved working with natural materials and always been a frustrated Product Designer. Designing fictional objects from wood is like a dream come true!

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

I believe very firmly that anyone can be creative if they simply practice very regularly in their chosen medium. This practice forms a feedback loop which helps move one’s work forward and an artist find their own voice. I started making with a project to design and make a wooden spoon each week for a year and publish the results online. As well as giving me a strong foundation in edge-tool use, this year long project helped me find my voice as a maker. My current passion is to go deep inside the slate mines of north Wales to bring out 100 year old oak which is full of rich colour and make from this. The objects I made from the oak can’t help but be influenced by the experience in the mines and quarries the wood is recovered from.

 

How do you approach your time in the workshop to get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making? Do you work better at certain times of the day?

I believe in finding a state of ‘flow’ in working with green wood. This is where you are not consciously working the wood but letting your hands feel the shapes emerging and the tools feel the grain of the wood to make the outcome a sum of what I initially intended to make, plus, what the wood dictates. Achieving this state requires being fresh, relaxed and open to the environment around me. I am a daytime maker really as my lovely ten year old son is demanding of my time in the evenings!

 

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

The challenge for me is two-fold. There is the technical skill in green woodworking and understanding different woods, which is really a lifetime of learning. The second challenge is design and coming up with original and satisfying ideas.

 

What would/has been your ideal commission?

 

I love commissions from talented chefs. Chefs often have a specific dish or ingredient in mind and would like me to come up with a creative solution to serving the dish, using wood. This might be as simple as spoon or fork, or as complicated a bowl from a huge hunk of wood.

 

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you?

Social media gives me the opportunity to reach a global market, which is huge, but mainly I enjoy the story telling side of producing photography and comment around my work and the natural world around me. I treat social media as an art project in its own right, not a marketing chore. That changes everything.

 

Do you think it’s possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

No, I am inspired constantly by things I see online, but I only really have an emotional connection / memory of work I have actually seen in the flesh in the controlled environment of a gallery.

 

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

I haven’t seen the Cardiff David Nash exhibition yet, although I love his work. The exhibition of his 50 years of making has moved to Eastbourne on the south coast now, about as far from north Wales as it gets! I am working on getting there however.

 

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

On a very practical level, I need to work on the business side of making in 2020. I would love to be able to make a comfortable living from what I make, but that takes a really solid business plan with multiple income sources to be sustainable as a maker. That’s the real goal for me now – to be able to do work hard at what I love for the long term.

How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

 

Both our backgrounds were very much involved in the creative side of life. (Andy originally a carpenter/Joiner and Karen from a fine art sculpture background.) Working and living together 24/7 has its challenges but we both share a passion for clay and our work evolved organically. Clay is the absolute perfect medium for us – forever learning and of course the very nature of working with clay makes us always humble!

Working and creating with our hands is part and parcel of who we are and neither of us can ever imagine any other life path!

 

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

 

When we first started our creative partnership in clay, over 10 years ago, we gave ourselves a parameter of working in the traditional medium of slipware using red earthenware clay. We have settled into our roles – Andy throwing and Karen illustrating the work using the sgraffito technique, a very time consuming and incredibly satisfying way of drawing. The work has become more adventurous and our approach to it more confident.

 

How do you approach studio time – get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making? Do you work better at certain times of the day?

 

To be honest we are always in the right frame of mind to work in the studio (obsessively). We feel fortunate that our studio is in our garden making the commute to work very enjoyable, overlooked by our lovely chatty rescue hens! There are never enough hours in the day and with no internet access in the studio distractions are kept to a minimum.

 

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

 

Working in the traditional medium of slipware is a constant challenge – so much can go wrong at every stage! It is with a mixed sense of relief, satisfaction and amazement when a piece turns out well! We are not large production potters but we strive to create original, beautiful and functional pottery. We cannot imagine ever doing anything else than working in the clay process…… quite honestly, we believe we will be doing this for as long as we are physically able!

 

What would/has been your ideal commission?

We had a commission for a large, lidded wedding pot about 8 years ago and we made 3…. just in case! The whole experience was a challenge and after two failed attempts we eventually produced a piece we were happy with. It is a very detailed pot with lots of drawn/sgraffito imagery pertinent to the couple. However, it now sits in our display cabinet due to the couple splitting up not long after their marriage! It is a pot with a story to tell!

 

 

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefited you?

 

Do you think it’s possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

We would say Instagram has benefitted Adrift Pottery enormously. Through it our audience has exponentially grown worldwide and we send work to far reaching corners. It is a huge source of inspiration and encouragement; the pottery community within it is particularly supportive and that helps immensely when living and working in rural West Wales. However, we do have a love/hate relationship with it; it can simply be too overwhelming at times. Hence the fact we don’t have internet access in the studio!

As for social media replacing a traditional bricks & mortar building…. absolutely not! Ceramics and art both work best when physically seen and if possible touched. It would be a sad world indeed if the gallery environment disappeared.

 

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

 

We had the privilege to be invited to exhibit at Art at The Hall, Llangathen, Carmarthenshire, twice this year and it was a really well curated show. Both shows had a separate theme and lots of artists working in different mediums were exhibiting. It felt very exciting to be a part of it and in such an amazing venue. We were proud to encourage everyone to go see it; exhibits were grouped together and periodically moved around creating interesting juxtapositions. So many local talented artists, usually hidden away in West Wales, exhibiting together felt exciting and special.

 

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

 

Our work is constantly evolving, and we have many new ideas we plan to work through. One especially exciting plan for 2020 is to self-build a wood firing kiln behind our studio. We believe this will develop our work in many different directions and we can’t wait to get the project underway.

 

 

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