Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
My name is Julia Smith and I am a ceramic maker based in a little village near Inverness. I make simple functional ceramics with hand printed surface designs inspired by my local natural environment and wildlife.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
My current distraction is growing vegetables and raised beds are slowly sprawling over our garden. I enjoy cooking and eating and was experimenting with cooking naan bread in my kiln last night- it tasted pretty good. I get outside as much as possible, either for a cycle, run or hike.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
There are little milestones along the way that make me feel like a professional maker. My first sale online, first sale to someone in another country, getting accepted in to a prestigious craft show (after a few rejections), being featured in a magazine and the first time my parent's visited me at a show and didn’t feel the need to make a supportive purchase.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I like making useful objects that people get pleasure from using. I am very grateful that people buy my ceramics and let me do this for a living, it is a real privilege.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I am inspired by mid century design, especially scandinavian industrial design and simple Japanese ceramics. I am drawn to the Japanese wabisabi aesthetic, sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. I get inspiration from children's books illustrators - Oliver Jeffers and Charley Harper amongst others.
Describe your studio or workspace?
I have four small studios scattered around the house. There is a small summerhouse (3 x 3m) which looks out over the sea and I throw on my pottery wheel in there. I take the thrown pots in to the garage where the kilns are and dry them out, fire and glaze them there. Last year the attic was converted in to another little studio and I mostly use it for drawing and screen-printing my decals. After three firings the pots end up in the clean studio (used to be the spare bedroom) where they are packed up and sent off to shops or photographed and listed online.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Stig Lindberg. He was a fantastic and prolific maker, his ceramics look very playful and I'm sure he would have had lots of interesting things to see in his studio and been fun to meet.
How would you describe your creative process?
I throw everyday, a minimum of 12 things and then glaze in large batches. I sometimes draw the decal design in response to the shape of a pot or I design a set of decals and apply them to a series of pots. I am always filling sketchbooks with doodles of shapes and ideas for illustrations but I rarely refer back to them, preferring to work organically and see what happens.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A friend generously gave us a coffee table he made out of a big chunk of elm when we moved here. It is solid, natural and beautiful, I love it.
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
There are always lots of uncreative jobs to do when I’m not feeling creative like catching up with book-keeping, cleaning the studio, listing online, delivering orders, mixing up glaze, the list goes on.. If I'm not feeling creative I don't try and force it, I come back to it when I'm enthused. Usually 20 minutes spent browsing ceramics on Pinterest gets me feeling creative.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would like to build a big studio with lots of natural light, made from wood and with a turfed roof and wood-burning stove. It would have a greenhouse on the end and the heat from the kilns would help plants grow all year round. I would run ceramics courses for people and cook tasty healthy meals using the vegetables from my large polytunnel and make fresh pizza in my outside homemade pizza oven.
Thank you Julia. Your work is wonderful, and we love your idea of a pizza oven - dream! You can find Julia's stunning ceramics in our Made in Britain shop.
Made in Britain
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Sun: 11am - 5pm