Firing up the kiln

If you have visited Design@HEART before you may well have seen Lindsay Thomas’s work.  Lindsay is a potter, producing eyecatching home decorations using the ancient method of Raku, and incorporating her other love of textiles into her new work.  Here she is talking about her work and methods:

I have been making pots since 1995. I started by attending an evening class and enjoyed it so much I carried on. I was fortunate enough to use an inheritance from my father with which I bought a kiln.

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I was also able to attend two courses that influenced my work and inspired me to try to sell my work. The first course was a weekend in the wilds of Wales with Annie Horner where I learnt to build and fire a Raku kiln and I use this process in my work still.  The second was a week’s course with Peter Beard, an amazing potter who taught me to refine my work and encouraged me to go out and try and sell my work.

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As I loved the Raku process I used this and made work influenced by ancient standing stones and ancient rock art from Ilkley moor. My first selling event was Potfest in the Pens 2000, a show which I have attended every year since. I work from my little studio in my cellar and Raku firing my work in my homemade kiln outside in the garage with my husband being my extra pair of hands.

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Over the years my work has gone through various influences, the main one being natural forms and pebbles found in the beach. The beach theme expanded to beach huts and camper vans and I now include found object found in the beach such as driftwood.

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The Raku process is an ancient Japanese process used to make tea bowls. The work is made, bisque fired, glazed, and then fired again in my Raku Kiln. The Raku kiln is fired to 960degrees then the pots are taken out when red hot and placed in sawdust. This causes a reduction in heat and makes the glaze crackle and any unglazed part turns black.  The pots are then placed in water and cleaned up.

My other love is textiles and my new work is earthenware decorated with oxides and transparent glaze. I use hand dyed yarn by Jean Wildish at Wild Wood Wool to sew rock art designs into the pots.

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Sarah Dunton

Sarah Dunton’s work went down very well last Christmas, so we’re having her back!  Here she is talking about her work:

I am a painter, potter and plant grower – and maker of small objects. I always drew as a child, and went on to study fine art at Leeds University.

My influences and inspirations are manifold, ranging from medieval art with its sturdy practicality, glorious disregard for proportion and delight in decoration, to the 20th century painters Paul Klee and Marc Chagall, whose work is often dreamlike.

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I learnt etching at Leeds, Morley College and Sir John Cass College in London and , much more recently, pottery at Swarthmore College.

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My work is derived from memory of things observed – I try to create calm-inducing and/or tactile work, which usually includes portrayals of birds and plants and occasionally people in their own worlds.

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

One of many new faces at Design@HEART this December is Shaun Vickers, artist and illustrator.  Here, we have a look at his background and his current work, which is sure to strike a chord with many of our shoppers. 

Shaun has always worked within the creative sector, initially trained in Graphic Design in Leicester he was soon illustrating with an airbrush for Athena poster shops back in the 80’s which set him on a path within the greeting card and publishing industry, having successfully freelanced for many years, Shaun joined several top card and publishing companies as Design Manager, Creative Manager through to Art Director overseeing many successful design teams and creating award winning ranges for many high street retailers and grocers.

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Now working from his attic studio in the village of Baildon with expansive views over Baildon Moor, alongside rescued cat ‘Ozzy’ they get wonderful views of nature and life passing by.

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This new venture as ‘Fine Art by Shaun’ allows him the freedom to create his own work without any restrictions, despite being proficient in all medium’s the humble pencil has long been his medium of choice as it allows fine detail to be achieved and the final image to be constructed in a steady controlled manner.

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With a love of all things Nature and Wildlife and given the resurgence of the focus on nature conservation and awareness, pet owner Shaun thought it the right time to marry subject matter with traditional working. To strip the image of colour and focus on the detail and character of the subject matter is really important, as the work continues to evolve so does the variety of situations, poses and formatting for each piece. Whilst he’s passionate about the work he does, his commercial background also focuses on the fact the work has a relevant  appeal and value to the wider public and so mixes pet and equine commissions with the larger wildlife pieces to sell as originals, prints and cards. As well as illustrating all things nature he also works on pet and equine portrait commissions

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This year has seen Shaun exhibit at several town halls and galleries for the first time with his own work, still experimenting with subject matter and formats it’s been a good grounding for the future direction for his next set of illustrations. This year has also seen him showcase his work in all manner of forms at country and craft shows in Yorkshire and his native Leicestershire, meeting new customers, and engaging with other stall holders and building up relationships and friendships through the unique band of ‘Creative Makers’, “I’m really excited for the challenge and opportunities that lie ahead and I’m very much looking forward to attending Decembers Christmas Craft event at Design @ Heart 8th December…see you all there!”

Favourite quote:

“Everything begins with a pencil!”

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Everyone Loves Bags!

Sue Turrill of Nuthatch Designs will be back at Design@HEART this December with her beautiful tweed bags.  Here she is talking about her work:

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When I was a small child I would spend weeks in the summer with my two siblings staying with our Grandmother and her two sisters.  That was when I really started creating things, using embroidery, sewing and knitting.  I remember spending hours with my Great Aunt Mary embroidering daisies around the edges of tray cloths, and I loved it.  Even from a young age needlecraft for me has always been a way of relaxing whilst producing something unique and useful.

I’ve since wanted to combine traditional methods I’d learnt with modern ways of life.  Everyone has some sort of electronic device and it seemed the obvious choice to incorporate my designs with natural fabrics to produce unique covers and cases to protect them.  Shortly after starting my business a good friend of mine said “why don’t you make bags? Everyone loves bags?”.  So after a bit of thinking I decided to give bags a go as well.  She was right of course and I love making them too!

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Natural fabrics are important to me as they combine durability with practicality meaning they will last but can also be recycled into something new in time.  I love the tactile nature of wool and the properties it has for retaining shape and repelling dirt. I’m sure my love of natural fabrics is in part linked to my love of nature.  I’ve always been drawn to wildlife and the countryside so the imagery I create on the smaller purses represents this part of my life,and it’s also why my shop name is Nuthatch Designs – it’s just my favourite bird.

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Wherever possible I try to champion British manufactured natural fabrics, and design and handmake the bags and cases I sell.   I absolutely love the heritage wool fabric Harris Tweed which is only produced under licence in the Outer Hebrides and now includes many brighter modern colourways from upcoming young weavers. In themselves they are a thing of beauty and I feel very lucky to be able to use them.

Nuthatch Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 8th December at the HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN