This weeks Creative Corner interviewee gets to do something I’ve always enjoyed. Working with clay is such a fun medium. Read on to find out more about creative clay for all.
1. Introduce yourself.
Hello, I am Deborah, I live in a village in Dorset with my two children. I am a ceramicist and hand build creatures in clay. I am also part of East Dorset Potters, a group of amateur and professionals who get together to socialise, car share to potter events and try experimental kiln firings and techniques.
2. Tell us a bit about creative clay for all.
Creative Clay For All was set up in 2015, offering mobile workshops giving access to clay and hand building techniques. Tailor made for theme or ability. I facilitate inclusive workshops which are fun and promote a creative imagination, supporting your ideas with practical making skills. Clay is great fun for all ages including residential care homes specialising in Dementia, youth clubs, W.I’s, schools and the visually impaired.
3. What made you start creative clay for all?
When my youngest child started school I worked in a pottery painting studio. I started running clay workshops including one for a school specialising in physical disabilities and for a carers group. The carers said there were many of their residents who would love to do clay but could not get out. At the same time community groups and adult education settings were losing their kiln facilities. It was the right time. Clay is a way that people with varying abilities can be creative. Many people including those with disabilities had no access to pottery workshops. By travelling to community groups, schools and care homes I could bring the workshops to everyone. Taking the clay creations away to fire in the kiln.
4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
After work experience at a pottery studio age 15 I realised I wanted to work in clay and needed to learn more. At South East Essex College of Arts and Technology I studied a
BTEC in Three-Dimensional design. This covered a variety of subjects including product design, woodwork, interior design and ceramics. I went on to specialize in ceramics achieving a BA (hons) in three-dimensional design: Ceramics at Bath Spa University College. After completing my degree in 1999 I volunteered at the International Ceramics Festival, Aberystwyth. There I gained experience stewarding and helped to build wood and turf kilns. I went back a few years later for a second time. You can never stop learning and I regularly attend ceramic talks and demonstrations by other potters. Recently I have completed a course to become an Arts award advisor.
5. Explain your creative process.
If I am building a new creature I will study the proportions and make a couple of realistic models concentrating on the movement and positon. I will look at the tiny details of feet and texture. These models will look quite stiff and I return the clay to the bag to reuse. Once I am happy with the structure I can start to free up and have fun. I like to give the creatures a personality and start to use my imagination and sense of humour. For example I ran a workshop including stag beetles. To inspire people I created a stag beetle resting against a log while eating an icecream!
6. Describe your typical day.
I have no typical day. That is the joy of my job. My day usually starts with the school run. From there it could be admin or travelling to a new venue to run a workshop anywhere in Dorset or beyond. (This could be with children or adults in their 90s) I also go to networking events.
7. What’s your biggest seller?
As I live on the Jurassic Coast I run a lot of ammonite workshops. I have now produced a range of ring holders including an ammonite one. These are great for tourists to take home as a gift.
8. What have been the high and low points of running your own business?
The best bit of my job is seeing the joy of achievement when someone has created their piece. Seeing a group of elderly residents sit giggling and chatting while making. Being told by a teacher that a child with severe autism has never sat still or had such concentration as when he has been making with clay. Watching someone with limited hand control following a stroke create fantastic leave print textures. The low point is that it is always quiet over January and February until half term.
9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
Research well, attend a business set up course. Go to networking events. You are not alone, collaborate it could lead to interesting things. Most importantly love what you do.
10. What are your aspirations for creative clay for all?
To give as many people as possible the chance to enjoy clay. I would like to be part of a research paper showing the benefits of clay. I hope that as more research shows the health benefits of being creative everyone will be able to access the arts. Personally I would also like to gain a business award and a write up in a national magazine or newspaper. This year I was proud to be a finalist in the Successful Women Creative Business award.
11. Where can we find you?