How does your studio make you feel?
Katie has had her garden studio for around 2 and a half years. She has created her own ‘little world’ where she is able to ‘lose herself’ in the making and exploration of her work. She feels that her work has given her a ‘sense of purpose’ and although she loves the entire process, she has also been given the opportunity to find her voice. Through social media, and particularly Instagram (Katie can be found @ceramicmagpie) , she is able to share her work with other makers and with those who appreciate handmade and all of the stories and joy this gives. The appreciation and delight in her work is far reaching and a little bit of Katie’s world originating from her very own Birmingham studio now sits on shelves and windowsills in homes all around the world.
What is it about the medium of porcelain and ceramics that attracts you?
Over the years, Katie has always revisited her love of ceramics and it is the tangible sense that attracts her. She feels that ‘creating with my hands is really relaxing and is as much about the process as it is about the finished article.’ Having been encouraged to exhibit some of her early work at an open exhibition, she sold a piece and this allowed her the realisation that people like, admire and desire her work. This experience gave her the impetus to sell, explore and experiment further.
How do most of your pieces come to life? Is there a certain routine you pursue from the original idea or does it flow organically?
‘During my studies at the Mac, I found myself drawn to natural inspirations, particularly the Victorian works of Ernest Haeckel, a German naturalist. He carried out observations of microscopic sea organisms and to me, they looked like sea urchins.’ Katie continued her research and undertook a detailed exploration of Haeckel’s findings and how these could be incorporated into her porcelain work. Her resulting body of work to date following this initial theme has included very beautiful, organic and tactile shapes.
Another love Katie has is botanicals. Her desire to make plant holders and surround herself with botanicals and flora stems from her own Mother’s love of foliage and plants.
Katie was once in a class and dropped a finished vessel on the floor. To her dismay, the piece was damaged and the fall caused the vessel’s rim to have a crinkled effect. Katie realised there was beauty in this as the damaged vessel was opened out to display the internal walls and she decided ‘there can always serendipity in failure.’
Describe your work in three words.
‘Organic. Sensual. Serene.’
What are the top three places/ people you look to for inspiration?
‘The coast.’ Katie has always been attracted to the ocean and the coast. ‘I love the sea; the blues and greens and the holes I create in my porcelain are sometimes reminiscent of sea foam. The glazes I use are like the sea.The creams and pinks are like the inside of a shell.’
Katie has also been inspired by American art icon and pioneer of twentieth-century art, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887 - 1986). ‘I saw her exhibition in London a few months ago and was interested to note her beautiful colour palette of soft pinks, pale blues, sage greens, greys and creams.’
Katie also appreciates the work of ceramicist Linda Bloomfield who designs and makes tableware based on thrown porcelain.
What is the process of slip casting?
Katie has a number of moulds she uses for her slip casting process. She dampens the inside of the mould with a wet sponge, binds the two sides together and pours the chosen porcelain into the opening at the top. She will then pour out the excess, leaving a ‘skin’ of beautiful porcelain inside the mould which will need to remain in situ for a day to commence the drying process.