Craft Britannia Shop of The Week #36, DamsonTreePottery
This week we talk to Marieanne of DamsonTreePottery who creates an amazing range of nature inspired ceramics with beautiful colourful glazes.
Describe your “typical” working day or week
There is never a typical day, or week, but here goes! Over breakfast I check Etsy for any orders and say “Hi” to the Craftbritannia team and catch up on chat and treasuries etc. Then I wrap any orders over the weekend from Etsy or the 2 shops stock, and run to the post office. After hanging out washing etc I’m itching to get into my pottery studio – a shed at the end of the garden.
Marieanne and I often start by preparing and rolling out clay with a slab roller or rolling pin and pressing in twigs, leaves, stamps, shells or other found objects, cutting them to shape and making tiles, bowls, or jewellery. I usually have specific orders to make. Some days I throw pots on the wheel. When these have dried a little I “turn” them on the wheel to make the bottom smooth, and smooth tiles, bowls and small items. When I have made enough to fill my kiln, together with my students work, and it’s all dry, I pack it into my kiln. It takes 7 to 8 hours to fire and I have to check it regularly, gradually turning up the gas to a roaring flame, until it reaches 1060 degrees C. It then takes about 12 hours to cool before I can unpack it.
The next stage is glazing. I paint the glaze and underglaze onto the fired ceramic. Some small items are simple plain colours, but the blossom tiles and bowls with turquoise background take a lot of careful painting! I love the variety of different work. Each firing I experiment with new colours and colour combinations, also mixing glass with ceramics and trying different clays. When enough work is glazed to fill the kiln, on it goes again, another 7-8 hours, then leaving it to cool. I cannot wait to open the kiln after glaze firing, but have to brace myself for the inevitable disasters and interesting finds!
I teach pottery in my studio for a few hours a week, and this is a constant source of inspiration and fun! There is lots of tidying the mess of preparing to fire, recycling used leftover clay and in the colder months lighting my wood fired stove. If it is not raining I usually work outside, entertained by the birds singing in the trees!
Other work includes sanding any rough pieces, gluing finished ceramic pieces to findings to make jewellery, making and mounting tiles in frames etc. Of course there’s photographing, editing and listing on Etsy, creating treasuries etc. And my accounts, which are usually left until last!
When you are not doing Etsy related things, what are you doing?
A lot of cooking and taxiing for my 4 teenagers! I love travelling with my husband and family, walking in the countryside, mountains, and by the sea, and sailing and kayaking. I love God and play guitar and sing and lead the young people on the music team at church. I also teach in church and on courses for those interested in exploring the meaning of life. I’m very interested in science, history, ethics, philosophy and thinking about the difficult questions in life!
What advice would you give someone taking up your craft for the first time?
Be patient! Start simply and enjoy the journey of many crazy disasters and discoveries as your learn to create more beautiful and interesting ceramics. Don’t be discouraged when things go wrong, but learn from mistakes and find new ways of creating that you never thought of before. Do not work in isolation, but find some way of developing ideas and methods with others.
If you could try a new craft, what would it be?
There is soooo much more to explore in pottery and ceramics as I am only scratching the surface of possibilities, but I guess I would like to move more in the direction of sculpture and working with metal and glass both involving fire!)!
Tell us about what inspires and motivates you
The beauty of nature most of all! But I also love colour and am completely addicted! And my students and their creations are a constant source of inspiration, especially the kids!
Tell us about one handmade item that you own and love
My granny crocheted little multi-coloured squares of leftover wool and sewed them into a blanket for my first child. Some squares have shrunk and other’s havn’t, but I love it and will always keep it!
What plans do you have for your shop in the future?
I have been selling on Etsy for less than a year (I first listed last December) and would like my shop to continue to grow organically, as it has done so far.
Thank you Marieanne for a lovely insight! We look forward to seeing your beautiful shop grow.
You can find DamsonTreePottery on Facebook: @DamsonTreePottery