Friday, 12 February 2010

This weeks Creative Genius is..............

Victoria Baker from Little Wren Pottery!
Victoria is the creative force behind the gorgeous handthrown stoneware pieces that are available from Little Wren Pottery.Here she tells us about her life and what pottery means to her and also gives her opinion on the wonderful world of the handmade community.

So, Victoria, Tell us abit more about yourself and your craft?
I began practicing wheel thrown pottery about two years ago, which in the grand scheme of a potters life is a very short time. I started off at a local night class and in no time at all I was creating useable objects.

A lot of my skill is down to my Dad who I always used to watch throwing pots on the wheel when I was a little girl. He would give me lumps of clay to make pottery animals. From an early age I got the feel for clay and its consistency but it wasn't until later in life I started actually making anything with it.

At the moment my throwing has to be fitted in around my job usually on an evening, I try to do all my throwing on a Friday night so I can wind down for the weekend.

What is your favourite item you have ever made?
My favourite item is probably my teapot, at the moment its not for sale. Unless I get a good offer of course! Teapots are one of the most difficult things to make because they combine all the skills of a potter.

Throwing a body and a spout, creating a lid, making a handle. Then you have to wait until all the pieces are leather hard so you can attach them all to the body of the teapot. It took several sittings to create the teapot but I learnt a lot in the process. I hope to make another, hopefully better one in the future.
If you would like to have a closer look at Victoria's teapot go to:

What do you enjoy most about your craft?
I spend a lot of time on computers due to my job, I create graphics for the web but you'll never actually be able to touch them. The tactility of pottery is something very appealing and very 'real'.

When I did fine art sculptors would talk about how the material willed itself to be turned into a particular shape. I find that idea fascinating and it often applies to pottery. It feels like your creating something out of nothing and sometimes that lump of clay just doesn't want to be a bowl!

I'm also the sort of person who worries a lot but once I get sat down behind the wheel you have to let all that go. If you start thinking about other things you instantly loose focus.

Tell us abit about where your inspiration comes from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from the natural world, our neighbourhood has a very active bird population everything from Owls to Robins. Every summer we have a feisty little wren who comes into our garden which is where Little Wren Pottery gets its name.

I get inspired looking at the work of other potters too and I really enjoy going to museums to see old pottery pieces which are often very different from our contemporary aesthetics.

Other than craft, what else do you enjoy?
I am a massive heavy metal fan. I love everything from the early bluesy sounds of Black Sabbath to the intense brutality of Norwegian Black Metal. I actually run another website, Ragnarok Radio, which is a heavy metal podcast where we interview metal stars from all round the world.
My favourite band is Tarot fronted by the very handsome Marco Hietala, hes also a really great guy and I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing him.

What are your views on the handmade community?
Its friendly but at the same time incredibly competitive. You need something really different to make you stand out from everyone else selling similar items.

With something like pottery its difficult to make the sale because why buy handmade when you can go to Ikea and buy a pack of cheap mugs? However I do think handmade is becoming more popular because of the human touch and the uniqueness it provides.

If people don't support crafting then culturally we've lost something and those skills are gone forever with no one to pass them on. I've known a few older potters with a lifetime of skill who have children my age who aren't interested in pottery, which is a real shame.

Apart from yourself, who is your favourite handmade artisan?

My favourite artisan is Shoji Hamada, a Japanese Potter. He was deemed a 'National Living Treasure' by the Japanese government and his skill was tremendous. You can see some videos of him throwing on youtube and I also love his slip trail calligraphy.

Japanese pottery is totally different, imperfections are seen as part of the character of the object rather being perceived negatively. Sometimes I get hung up with something not being 'perfect' but I'm a person not a machine, beautiful Japanese aesthetics help me to remember that.
To find out more about Shoji Hamada head over to:

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I recently started doing custom orders, I've completed one so far and the second is on the way. Its actually quite a nerve wracking but really satisfying, I just hope my items are well received!

Thank you Victoria for that wonderful insight into the world of Little Wren Pottery.If you would like to find out more about Victoria and her fabulous creations follow the links below:
Little wren pottery site >
Twitter >
Folksy shop >
Etsy shop >

Next week Creative Genius will be interviewing another fantastic artisan.Make sure you don't miss out, click and become a follower now!

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