This month’s interview is with Wattlefield Pottery. I discovered Andrea and Wattlefield Pottery through Twitter. Her work is beautiful and I was delighted when she agreed to take part in one of my Inspiring Interviews.
1. Hello! Please introduce yourself … ‘What’s your name and where do you come from’!?
My name is Andrea Young and my home is in Wattlefield near Wymondham in Norfolk. Wattlefield is a rural hamlet surrounded by fields, with a few cottages and farm houses dotted here and there. It’s one of those places that you can’t seem to find - there are sign posts pointing to it, but you can easily drive by without realising that you’ve been through it and out the other side.
I have spent my life living in Norfolk, and moved to Wattlefield 8 years ago with my husband Peter.
2. Tell us more about Wattlefield Pottery. When did you first start being interested in the craft of pottery and what items do you make?
I first became interested in pottery 9 years ago when a ‘have a go’ opportunity presented itself. I paid a small fee and took a lump of clay to throw on the wheel. I was immediately hooked by the sensory experience of the clay running through my hands while trying to mold it into a bowl. It was quite an exhilarating experience, and my immediate response was, ‘I’m going to have to book a course to do this’. And so I did!
That was the start of it; I enrolled on a weekly pottery workshop at Wensum Lodge in Norwich and spent 4 years at Adult Education classes learning the practical skills of pottery making. During this time I completed a level 3 City and Guilds in Design and Craft Ceramics. When that was completed, I wanted to learn more still; in 2006 I went to North Wales [Snowdonia] for a full time further education course in Design Technologies. On return from my studies I wanted to have a home pottery studio where I could indulge in my creativity, and so the old wash house was converted into what may well be one of the smallest pottery studios there is.
I most enjoy making pottery that is useful and has a purpose; therefore I tend to make domestic items such as bowls and coffee mugs. I prefer my pottery to be enjoyed as part of daily life, adding pleasure to a coffee break, goblet of wine, or the preparation and serving of a meal.
3. What inspires you and your designs?
I like to follow my heart and so my work is intuitive, reflecting my personal tastes. I love the ancient craft of pottery, gaining immense pleasure from the making processes which will absorb me both manually and mentally. For me, pottery is about something that’s made entirely by hand from beginning to end. A pot, uniquely formed, that has a domestic function is able to be enjoyed and treasured as part of daily life; and it’s nice to feel that my work might provide sentimental value to someone.
I particularly like making bowls. It is almost mesmerizing when trying to achieve a wonderfully smooth curve on the inside of a bowl; and I love the decorative spiral detail left by my hands on the outside which only needs a natural glaze in order to enhance it.
4. Tell us what your favourite creation to date is…
It’s always difficult to choose a favourite, but I find making larger items an enjoyable challenge. When I first started to make pottery and began to get something that resembled a decent pot; it wasn’t enough! I wasn’t going to consider myself a potter until I could throw something enormous. Unfortunately, due to the miniature size of my studio, I haven’t the space to make large pots on a regular basis. I made these decorative rhubarb forcers for my garden and these are the biggest that I’ve made so far.
5. Do you have any tips for selling handmade crafts successfully in rural areas such as Norfolk?
I’ve only been selling my work within the last year and it’s certainly not easy starting out in the current economic climate.
I’ve found networking to be hugely beneficial, along with using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. I particularly like Craftspeople in Norfolk - a Facebook group. Being a member enables me to contact and meet other crafters who like to share their information, tips and knowledge. To add to that, it’s a great idea if you can join forces with another business complementary to your own. I’ve recently met Sally from The Happy Bee Company and we are are soon to try combining our products by putting jars of honey together with a hand thrown honey pot to make gift sets.
It’s important to keep putting yourself and your work out there to get noticed. I regularly attend craft events in the local area and recently received a commission for a large quantity of mugs for the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
Business help and advice is available from organisations such as WEETU and Business Link. Woman’s Work has a free monthly downloadable Notebook for women. http://www.womanswork.co.uk/
6. Do you have any other hobbies or dabble in any other crafts?
At present I concentrate solely on pottery making although I have dabbled in other crafts. Before I became interested in pottery I enjoyed woodwork classes and even went so far as getting a City and Guilds at level 2. Joinery was particularly enjoyable, especially the dovetailing, and I loved lathe working. What I didn’t enjoy was the hours of sanding afterwards.
One of my favorite pieces is this dovetailed coffee box made from brown oak.
7. How can we find out more?
8. And finally… do you have a favourite quote / saying?
~ Leonardo Da Vinci ~