Karen Jinks's picture

MEET: Julia Davey

Emily Parkes meets Julia Davey, to find out more about her ceramic art work. Julia is based in Bath and makes beautiful bespoke tableware and framed fine art ceramics.

How did you start your business?

I set up my small ceramics business after graduating from Bath Spa university in 2007. It has taken three years of work to get a studio, plenty of moulds made and two kilns up and running but I am now a full time maker. I work from a small studio by the canal in Bath and specialise in making slip cast earthenware tableware in many shapes and sizes. Every piece is hand decorated by myself and this means that no two items are quite the same; it is the tiny variations in transfer placement and painting that make each piece special. I also make framed pieces, cards and have just expanded to making jewellery.

What's your favourite thing to do when you're not working?

I bought a Bedlington/Whippet cross puppy when I started working on the business full time. My favourite thing is to escape from work and take her on a long walk across the fields behind our house. She's great entertainment and flops beside the work bench on my feet when we return home.

 Robot Earthernware Milk Jug

What has been inspiring you lately?

I have an odd obsession with toys at the moment. New designs for Spring include vintage dinky toy cars (Royal Mail Van, Mini Cooper and yellow Heinz van to name but a few) and Russian babushka dolls. A recent flick through old photos of a visit to Jersey Zoo has led to a flamingo range ... just trying to get the pink right!

How did you find your style and has it changed?

I think that my style is evolving with each range. I know that my drawings have a certain look, weight of line and marks are very important to me, as are colours. I think that my colour palette is changing as I am now mixing my own coloured slips from scratch and the transfers are becoming more successful with an increasing knowledge of the process.

How do you get the word out about your work?

I make sure I try and apply to as many fairs as I can, and luckily I have made some lovely friends at fairs who often pass on my details for me. I was lucky to have a few items in the press and this had led to some fantastic opportunities with galleries and retailers. Facebook and Twitter are fairly new additions to my business' communication online but I really like the direct connection you have with people using them.

Who are some of your favourite artists, designers and makers?

I attended a great course in earthenware slips last year which was run by Carolyn Genders. I think her work is fantastic - abstract and with such a bold use of colour and shape. I am currently trying to develop my hand building as a direct result of her influence. I also love the work of Lowri Davies, a welsh maker who I observed whilst on work experience during university. Her work is very illustrative and I think that the way she composes imagery and pattern on each item is so delicate.


If you had time, what new craft would you learn?

I am always trying to learn new techniques in textiles and print making. I would really like to try screen printing textiles or making my own wallpaper with my designs.

What is the best part of what you do?

I love making functional pieces and the best part of my job is hearing how people are using them. There is something quite amazing to wake up and think that somewhere out there people are drinking their tea or coffee out of one of my mugs. It seems so surreal.

What's the ethos behind your work?

To make functional, high quality earthenware pieces which are made to be used. This is the reasoning behind the items feeling quite solid, I never want customers to be afraid to handle the tableware. I also feel that it is important for people to see that the piece is hand decorated, the way I work allows a hint of the brushwork to be seen in the slip and the odd dribble of glaze. I want the customer to see the process.

Where can we see more of your work?

On Folksy - www.folksy.com/shops/juliadavey
On Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/jdaveyceramics
On Facebook - www.facebook.com/pages/Julia-Davey-Ceramics/151341161575046