EMILY PARKES meets Jennifer Hamilton of The Village Pottery, a family run pottery and cafe based in Bristol. Jennifer talks to Emily about her craft and the the lovely setting in which she works; providing the public with coffee, cake and beautiful pottery to eat and drink from!
What do you do and how did you start?
I am a potter. My love for the material clay started when I was doing my GCSE’s in Dorset. It’s such a diverse material.
Describe your work setting.
I have a shop/café with a studio adjacent to that. The public can come and relax over a cuppa' whilst trying out my wares and see how they are made.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Recently, I’ve been inspired by the trend of consumers to seek out handmade goods. I’ve been adapting this into different areas such as baby feet imprints, pushing the newborns feet into wet clay to create a lasting memory of their tiny feet. I’ve also been creating bespoke wedding lists for couples, with dinner services with the messages engraved on the back from the guests. As an artisan, it’s so lovely to be involved in these precious memories.
What's the most rewarding and the most frustrating aspect of your work?
The most rewarding is opening up the kiln to a perfect firing. You’re never in total control of the processes. A number of things can go wrong in the kiln and that is probably the most frustrating thing, opening up a kiln to find the work ruined inside. It could be due to a power failure, over firing, under firing, elements burning out, etc.
What are your tools of the trade, which is your favourite?
The wheel is my favourite tool. I’m probably at my happiest when I’m sitting on my wheel creating pots. Sadly this process is actually quite quick and I have to get started on another stage like adding handles or glazing.
What advice would you give something starting up their own creative business?
Be organised. You have to be prepared to be, not only the creator, but the accountant, marketing director, sales team and PA. So being organised makes your life much easier, so always stay open minded and positive.
Who are some of your favourite artists/designers/makers?
If you had time what new craft would you like to learn?
I would love to learn glass blowing.
What is the best part of what you do?
The thought of my pots being well used and loved; the idea that they bring joy to peoples’ everyday lives.
What's your favourite thing to do when you're not working?
Swimming or walking in the country, it helps to clear my mind.
Is "handmade" a lifestyle choice for you and if so, why?
“Handmade” is a lifestyle choice but sadly with everything there has to be a compromise. I think handmade items have an aura about them, it’s as if they have a soul.
You can view more of Jennifer's work on the website and get more information on The Village Pottery, including pottery lessons with Jen herself. There is also a Village Pottery Etsy shop and Facebook page.