Kay from Kinship Creative chats to this ceramicist about her passion for design and making
Harriet Elkerton makes timeless, unique pieces in white porcelain using paper models and incorporating natural materials...
When did you make your first ceramic item?
My earliest memory of using clay was in primary school. I made a coil pot with a lid, it was a riot of colour! I don’t think it was even fired and the ‘glaze’ was probably poster paint. Sadly this did not spark an education growing up with clay. I would say I properly began working in clay while on my Foundation course. I was on a textiles pathway but was using every non-tradtional textile material going; wire and wax, and then clay. I began by making simple press moulds and I loved the ability to translate forms.
Have you always had a passion for making things?
Simply, yes. Growing up this tended to be in the form of textiles, I would make clothes – and still do – for myself and family. And even before I was old enough to be in control of a sewing machine, I would have ideas for clothes for my dolls which I would make my reluctant mum realise.
What study path have you followed to get to where you are today?
I studied Art and Textiles up to A-level, then went on to do a Foundation (Foundation Studies in Art, Design and Media) at Buckinghamshire New University. This led to doing a degree at De Montfort University, Leicester, in Design Crafts. It was an applied arts course, on which I learnt about almost every material: metal, wood, glass, plastic, paper, textiles and ceramics. Over the three years I began to specialise in ceramics but still incorporating other materials.
What do you love most about having your own small creative business?
I get to make what I believe is beautiful, which people buy and put on display in their house or gift to a friend or family. It’s a simple concept but it means so much, that people will part with their hard-earned money because they consider the work beautiful and want to see it every day.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I am very lucky, I have a studio. It is not necessarily a thing of beauty but it is practical. My talented uncle made me some custom benches and I have my own kiln. I am very lucky to have the creative space. But the transition from studios and workshops at University, filled with creatives, to spark off and get input and encouragement, to working for the majority of my time, the day-to-day, on my own, without being surrounded by all the creative energy, was rather a challenge to adjust to. I think this is true of most makers, but my natural habitat is in the workshop, just me and the clay. I am not a natural sales person, however in order to be able to create to my heart’s content, I need to sell the work (obvious I know). Over the years, I have learnt ways in which to talk about my work and to market it without losing myself.
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
More and more I design through making. I work through ideas in paper, in paper maquettes, seeing the forms in three dimensions, and how the pieces work together as a collection. This design process, in a way, has been streamlined with my current collection, a step is skipped: the maquettes are the models for the moulds. The materials themselves also inspire the designs. When high-fired, porcelain vitrifies: you get a beautiful, matte, almost self-glazed surface. I exploit this by only glazing the interiors. Similarly, the function inspires the piece, hence only glazing the interiors.
Article, styling and photography by Kay at Kinship Creative DC. Instagram @kinship_creativedc
Article by: EKBB