Wednesday, 7 July 2010

MEET: UK Handmade Writing Competition Winner - Victoria Baker of Little Wren Pottery

Victoria Baker of Little Wren Pottery is joint winner of our recent Writing Competition, alongside Fiona Stolze. Little Wren Pottery specialises in contemporary English dinnerware for your table. All the pieces are handcrafted in Sunderland, England in stoneware clay. Victoria Baker, the potter behind Little Wren Pottery loves creating rustic ceramics for the modern home......we caught up with Victoria to find out more!

What inspires you?
Nature inspires me, I like to use natural earthy colours in my pottery - browns, reds and greens. I tend to think stoneware pottery has that rustic feeling to it and colour choices help to emphasise this. When I'm not potting, I tend to spend a lot of time out in the garden tending to my vegetables, I love listening to birdsong and sometimes animals make their way onto my pots. I also really enjoy visiting museums to look at the ancient pottery.  Often these old styles are more elegant and graceful than modern home wares.

How did you get started?
My Dad has been a potter for a number of years and he encouraged me to take a night class. He'd never taught anyone before and he thought I'd better get instruction from someone else. Attending the class I actually found quite quickly I was able to produce sell-able pieces. I now produce all my pieces in my home studio, of course my Dad is always teaching me new things. I also know a few potters in my local area and if there's something my Dad and I don't know, we ask them for help too.

Whose work do you admire?
I really admire the work of Japanese potters. I love how their work directly reflects the natural world through colour and texture. I also really like simple shapes that have been beautifully thrown, sometimes you just don't need a fancy glaze or slip design when your pieces look perfectly balanced. Probably the best examples of this can be found in Finnish pottery. I also get inspired by other potters I know, particularly my Dad and his former pottery teacher who we still visit.

Describe your typical working day......
Since I still work full time I never really have a typical day. When I get home from work I concentrate on packing orders, keeping the studio tidy or designing new pieces. I do most of my throwing on a Saturday morning.  hrough trial and error I have found this is my most productive time. I can throw up to half a bag of clay in one morning between 8 and 10 am. On Sunday's I'll turn all the pots I made, they need a day to dry out and become leather hard, before they can be turned. 

What is your favourite piece you have made, and why?
My favourite piece so far has been my pottery creamers. They are a nice weight when you pick them up and just a pleasing shape. Sometimes you get to the bisque stage of having fired a piece and for some reason the glaze you choose doesn't quite work. This time though I was really pleased with how it turned out, especially how it has "run" on the body of the pot, providing a bit of colour variation.

What is your favourite process?
I enjoy throwing most of all. I find it really satisfying seeing clay go from unshaped lumps to thrown and finally turned. Usually when I throw, I have a specific object in mind but sometimes the clay does its own thing and it's really nice to have a surprise!

What do you see for Little Wren Pottery in the next 12 months?
I'd really like to go part time in my job so I have more time to develop The Little Wren Pottery range. At the moment, there aren't enough hours in the day! 

Your Dad is a potter too, do you work on pieces together, and if so, does this make the piece that bit more special?
Sometimes we work together on things, I have smaller more delicate hands than he does - so if he requires something to finish off a piece, a spout or a lid, he'll ask me to do it. I enjoy working with my Dad, there isn't much else we both enjoy together so having some time with him is great. Sometimes we do throwing relays where we interchange throwing pots on the wheel. My Dad's pieces are usually much larger and bolder (more manly!) than mine. Sometimes he teaches me things and he continually provides feedback on how I can produce better work. I still haven't quite mastered lips for jars and teapots!

What is on your Wish List?
Having a better studio area that is away from the house. At the moment the attic is continually getting quite messy, sometimes this filters its way down the stairs - so having another space with running water would be ideal.

When work is done, how do you relax?
I get in the kitchen and rustle up something nice, usually sweet! I look after my plants in the garden, maybe do a bit of knitting. When there is time, I love to watch old black and white films of all different genres and of course.....Doctor Who.

To see Victoria's range of products visit:-
Little Wren Pottery
Little Wrens Etsy Shop
Little Wren Pottery at Folksy
Little Wren Pottery Dawanda Shop

1 comment: said...

Thanks for the interview its great to be featured on the blog : D hope your readers enjoyed it