Devon-based Artist Amelia has taken on the challenge of mastering several techniques. I caught up with her to chat specifically about her pottery.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. You have mastered various techniques, from digital art to pottery; why have you practised many different styles?
Oh gosh, I definitely wouldn’t say mastered! I’m more of a jack of all trades, a master of none. I initially started dot-work (pointillism) when I was in high school art. It became my obsession for a few years. I took a random evening class with a mate in loom-weaving one night in 2018, and that sort of booted pointillism to the side and became my new obsession. I have SO many mini weavings in boxes from that time. Then I moved to the UK and was unemployed, so I had a lot of time to fill. I started practising digital drawing to pass the time and ended up loving it – again – obsessive. My partner bought me a 5-week pottery taster course (shout out to Welbeck Estate’s pottery programmes), which has been the longest-lasting obsession. I now have a kiln, studio and shelves upon shelves of pots. I find I get really restless working with just one medium. I need to have a break but still want to be creating, so it suits me to have a few really different mediums. When I need a break from pottery, for example, I can pick up a pen and dot, draw for a while, and do some carving. They’re also all different levels of physical exertion – if my hands need a break, I can chill with some drawing. Ultimately, it all stems from restless energy, I think.
Which was the most enjoyable to learn, and which was the hardest?
I’ve found ceramics the most difficult – throwing on the wheel has been a 2-year long learning process. I can now confidently throw, but I have many more years of learning ahead of me. That being said, it has probably been the most enjoyable too. Making practical, beautiful things from earth and water is wild to me. Though dotwork will always be the most rewarding – 80 hours of dots gets a bit torturous, but the final product always makes it worthwhile.
How expensive is it to start pottery, and do you need a lot of equipment?
Very! I would have started it back in Australia but couldn’t justify the expense of learning. My partner bought me the taster course was a tremendous gift on our budget. I think it’s getting more affordable as it’s becoming more trendy and more people are able to teach from home/online. You can set yourself up with cheap tools and clay, but firing, glazing and wheel-throwing (buying a wheel, etc.) can be very pricy. A good way to start is getting clay that doesn’t need firing – see if you like the process and go from there. Local studios usually have a comprehensive firing cost sheet you can go off. The glaze has become prohibitively expensive post-lockdowns, so that’s been tough to afford.
Where do you find your inspiration to create your pieces?
All around! Nature is a big one, other artists are always inspiring. Mythology and folklore inspire a lot of my lino carving. I have a notebook full of ideas and sketches I take around with me – noting down interesting shapes from architecture, plants, etc.
Are there any artists that inspire you?
One of my absolute favourite artists is ANASTASSIA ZAMARAEVA. Her work is so beautiful, speaks volumes, and is centred around mental health and emotional awareness. I am inspired by Kit Mizeres, James Jean, Boy Kong and Lauren Ys. I’m sure there’s more – it’s endless inspiration out there.
Is there a piece of art you want to create but cannot for one reason or another?
I really want to make two more giant dotworks like the heart I did but the time, effort and big sheets of paper are all out of my reach at the moment! The heart took me like… 5 years to finish. So thinking about how long the next two will go on for is really deterring me!
What are your plans for your art? Is there another technique you are looking to master?
I really want to make my own paper, make my own glazes from found pigments, and forage for wild clay. I am really interested in and passionate about having a smaller carbon footprint as ceramics isn’t the most eco-friendly. In a more tangible plan, I have about 80 more paintings to do to finish a series of 100 I’m working on.
If someone was looking to start pottery, what advice would you give there?
Find a local studio that runs group classes and try to go as often as possible. Watch ALL of the YouTube videos, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Clay is so intuitive and more about tactile learning than perfecting pots. I struggle with accepting mistakes and ‘failures’, but once I finally took the pressure off myself to just play and create, it became SO much more joyous. The money, time and mistakes are all so worth it.
Is pottery like it’s portrayed in the 1995 film “Ghost“
haha no. I haven’t come across any sexy ghosts as of yet but here’s hoping right?
I see from your Instagram that you could make a perfect piece of pottery, but when it goes into the kiln, that could all change?
OMG, it’s the toughest part. My old teacher used to say “never get attached until it’s fired twice”. It is very sage advice. A drying pot can break before you even get it to the kiln. It could break in the first ‘bisque’ firing, it could break in the glaze firing and the glazes are entirely unpredictable. NEVER get attached until it’s 100% done.
What is the most enjoyable thing about pottery?
The process, I think. Just playing with mud, seeing where it goes, and making tangible things you can hold and connect with from nothing is terribly rewarding.
What piece of pottery are you most proud of creating and why?
Hm. I am very proud of the pots I’m throwing lately – a year ago I would have snorted and run away if I’d been told I’d be throwing things this size and so complicated. The piece I’m most attached to is my first Tulip Vase. I got the idea from my sister who travelled to the Netherlands after visiting me for the first time in the UK. Her love of the concept inspired me so – that’s why I started making them.
If there is anything else you would like to add, please do so.
The main message I’m so frustrated gets obscured and subverted all the time is that ANYONE can be an artist. I seriously believe this. SO many people say it’s innate talent but it really isn’t – it’s just practise, opportunity and curiosity. Everyone should give any craft they admire a go if they can. Councils run free classes, and community events and workshops are happening all the time – get out there, find a free class and don’t be afraid (preaching to my 16-year-old self here really).
Want to see more of Amelia’s pottery? Please go and check out her Instagram page – AmeliaK_Fulton and if you have are looking for a handmade piece of pottery (because you have just dropped your mug and it’s broken?) then head over to her online store – Amelia Art Store and to read Amelia life model interview click here
I hope that this interview didn’t turn you potty! We have more artists we have interviewed on the blog – Artists