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Clever Ceramics by Katharine Morling

Katharine Morling Product Round-up1 by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

I’ve always held a somewhat conceited belief that I’d probably be really good at pottery if I gave it a go. That thought lies in the same bit of my brain that became obsessed with the more obscure sports at the Olympics last Summer (how would anyone KNOW that they were secretly a whizz at dressage/clay pigeon shooting/putting on a happy face during synchronised swimming throughout the course of everyday life? Have I secretly missed my calling as a Master Archer?!) But, y’know, I do crafts, I like to think I’ve got a bit of an eye for design, and I’m fairly practical, too (I restored and installed a door handle last week ‘n’ everything). And I’m actually working on a little – very basic – clay project at the moment for one of my editorial clients. But every time I try to make anything proper (i.e with sides) it just all seems to go horribly wrong. I’ll be sharing the story of my Wonky Pot, made at last Saturday’s Patternity workshop, next week once I’ve picked it up from firing – but there’s a little Instagram of it here if you can’t wait until then.

Goldsmiths Hall Styling Shoot by Joanna Thornhill, photography Mike Daines

So it was with a degree of envy that I cast my eye over extremely talented ceramicist Katharine Morling’s newsletter this week. Having been a regular visitor to the Cockpit Arts Open Studios for many years now, where she shares her wares, I’ve always admired her striking pieces, and was fortunate enough to feature one in an editorial photoshoot a few years back for Essential Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom magazine (see above). Set in the insanely opulent surroundings of Goldsmiths Hall, I was keen to add an element of unexpected  juxtaposition to this shot, and Katharine’s ceramic pouffe was just the ticket.

Katharine Morling Product Round-up2 by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Describing her work as “three-dimensional drawings in the medium of ceramics”, Katharine has just launched an online shop for a selection of her smaller pieces (the footstool was part of her one-off, POA kind of items for those with a bit more cash to splash) and I’ve already (mentally) been gifted any/all of the above by thoughtful loved ones (ahem). Each is part of a series and is handmade, painted and signed. Perhaps it’s time to step away from the potter’s wheel and put my efforts into saving up for one of these puppies instead…

{Images: All product images via Katharine’s online shop. Lifestyle shot with fireplace, photographed by Mike Daines and styled by me for Essential Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom magazine.}

A Work of Arc

With Christmas still in full swing there’s been little time of late for blogging or even interwebbing of late. Fortunately I’ve been introduced to several fab new brands this week whilst on shoots, first up being Arc Prints. Selling online throughout the UK, Arc offer a dazzling array of fine art reproductions, capturing all the vintage glory of the original image on matt archival paper. Ranges include animal, botanical, architectural and interiors, travel, costume and ceramics to name but a few, and is quite literally the most comprehensive collection of prints in the WORLD (probably), for incredibly wallet-friendly prices (with most on offer you’d get change from £20). Here’s just a few of my faves:

Owls by Manetti (top) and 19th Century English Cutlery

Henry Bradbury nature print ferns

Aubisson tapestry study

Parisian Interiors: Francois Chopin

George Wolfgang Knorr shell study

Nigel Cladingboel topiary

Mrs Mellish Fancy Desserts (quite tempted to buy this one for the name alone)

Charles Martin Art Deco

And finally, these antique doll studies by Lena Cook: quirky cool in a Miss Havisham sort of a way, or just an ickle but creepy?

Bamboozled

I’ve always been of the mindset that for something to be handmade, in my book that means being able to see the tell-tale signs of the maker that makes it ‘real’ as opposed to mass produced – a wibble here, a dropped stitch there, a rogue pencil guideline still faintly visible, etc etc. Often the word handmade is too freely bandied about when what it really means is someone in a factory line somewhere stuck a diamante gem onto a corner of a picture frame after a machine turned out 50,000 identikit of them. So when I stumbled upon French brand Ekobo’s website earlier whilst out interwebbing, I must confess to being somewhat sceptical of its handmade claim after clapping eyes on its gleaming, pristine wares.

But I have to say, after watching this video on their website (go to ‘products – a form of art’), I stand very much corrected. Ekobo commission artisans in rural areas of Vietnam to create their glossy wares, using traditional production techniques finished in a wholly contemporary manner. I had literally no idea how bamboo tableware was made before seeing this – not that it’s something I’ve ever given much thought to to be honest, but if I had, I don’t think I’d have worked it out for myself anyway and if it were left to me would probably be sitting in a Vietnamese field, sobbing quietly by a mound of wooden strips, held together with PVA glue and resembling a damaged meteorite.

Eco-friendly (hello, bamboo), nice-to-the-locals (good working conditions, creating jobs in poor communities) and groovy-looking to boot, what better way to serve your organic farmer’s market salad/handmade cordial made from local roadside berries* (delete where applicable).

Stocked throughout numerous stores throughout the UK (including Selfridges) and worldwide.