My aim is to make ceramics that are inspired by natural forms and have a sense of life and movement. Although I have radically changed my making method in the last year, my artistic aims have largely remained unchanged.
3D printing clay makes it possible to create ceramic forms not achievable by other means. We are combining art, craft and technology in a new way, opening up possibilities that are fascinating to explore.
Centre of Ceramic Art Shop, York Art Gallery, York
Royal Exchange Theatre Craft Shop, Manchester
Tullie House Shop, Carlisle, Cumbria
Bitter Beck Pottery, 11 Market Place, Cockermouth, Cumbria
The advent of 3D printing presents the possibility of building 3D forms in any material that can be made to flow out of a nozzle. My husband Jack and I imagined the creative possibilities that this might present in clay. There were no commercial 3D printers available to do what we envisaged, so we built a 3D clay printer ourselves. It extrudes very thin coils of soft clay, which are pressed down in layers to build our original designs.
First an idea has to be captured and developed as a digital design, which is practical to print in wet clay. The printing process uses all our accumulated pottery know-how. Achieving the right consistency of clay is an art in itself. The clay is prepared by hand to get a very soft, even consistency with no air.
The new forms and textures we're working with also demand fresh approaches to colouring, glazing and firing to make the forms come alive. We are currently working in both porcelain and stoneware, using body stains and glazes, and firing in a gas kiln under both oxidation and reduction.
We started making ceramics about 45 years ago, firstly at evening classes, then in a shed in the back garden. I find working with clay absorbing and therapeutic and for me it is the ideal stimulus to creativity. Nevertheless ceramics took a back seat to other work until in 2001 I saw a piece by Claudi Cassanovas in Barcelona which made such an impact on me that I decided to become a full time potter. I eased myself into it through a few years of workshops at an FE college then took a year off work to do a professional development diploma for designer-makers.
In 2005 I opened Bitter Beck Pottery in Cockermouth, Cumbria, where I made and sold my ceramics as well as running pottery evening classes. Ten years later, I sold the pottery and set up at home to make 3D printed ceramics.
Before becoming a potter I followed careers in education, marketing and business planning, and then as a freelance management consultant. Over the years I have accumulated degrees in Physics, Education, Business and Environmental Management. I am a member of the Northern Potters Association and am currently the editor of NPA News.
In 2015 we did live demonstrations of 3D printing at Potfest in the Pens at Penrith, and we plan to do the same in 2016, on 5-7 August.