Kate Welton - A Potted History

Kate Welton - A Potted History
Kate Welton ceramicist, a young woman in a green jumper holding a ceramic pot in front of shelves filled with other ceramic pieces

If you've been into the gallery at any time over the past couple of years you can't have failed to miss seeing the beautiful pottery by ceramic artist Kate Welton. Her gentle colours and tactile shapes have won her many fans so here's a chance to find out a bit more about the maker behind the work. 

-You did your degree in design crafts at De Montfort, was ceramics always your preferred medium?  

KW: Since my A-Levels I have been interested in ceramics, but I chose to study Design Crafts as I wanted to have the opportunity to try out different materials and mediums. I am so glad I did; it was fantastic to explore glass, metal and textiles, and be surrounded by fellow students making in all different disciplines. In the end the draw of clay was too great, and I specialised in Ceramics. There is something so wonderfully bewitching about the tactility of clay, and the magical transformation from lump of mud to vessel. 

- Have you always made things?

Definitely! I have always loved drawing, painting and making. Creativity was a big part of my childhood; I vividly remember the wonderful boxes we had full of stuff that might just be useful for making crazy sculptures!

the lower half of a ceramic vase showing the green glaze detail

- Are you from a creative family?

My Mum is a talented knitter and baker, and my Dad is great at building things and problem solving. They were always open to teaching me and my sister new things, for which I’ll be forever grateful.

- What’s a typical day like for you?

On a typical day in the studio, I usually start by weighing out and wedging my clay in preparation for throwing. Then I start making. I try to make pieces in batches; 20 mugs or 20 vases, as it’s easier to get in the groove, and a more efficient way of making. After a throwing day I’ll have a day of trimming and attaching handles, followed by a day or two of decorating before the work dries out and is ready to be fired. It never pays to rush ceramics, so I’ve learnt to embrace the slow pace. My radio, playlists or a good podcast are usually my constant companions!

- Are you inspired by the landscape around you in Suffolk? 

More and more! I’ve always been drawn to earthy inspiration, and the decoration in my early pieces referenced the surfaces and patterns of old gardening tools. Now I do find myself keenly observing the landscape; I think it’s all this walking I’ve been doing in lockdown! The gently rolling landscape, swaying grasses along field edges, and the meandering River Lark have all inspired the surface decoration on my pots over the last year. 

white tulips in a ceramic vase with a green glaze to the lower half sitting on a wooden table

- Your work is mainly functional, do you enjoy knowing that it has a day to day function?

I love knowing that my pieces will be used daily, becoming part of someone’s routine. How a piece feels when held is really important to me; every time you pick up a handmade object, there is an immediate connection to the maker and the material, which is really special. 

- Have you ever been tempted to try your hand at more decorative pieces? 

I would love to make some larger scale pieces this year, maybe combining throwing with coil building. During the first lockdown I made two large coil pots in my cellar (doubling up as a lockdown studio!). I was away from my wheel, so was forced to use hand-building techniques I hadn’t explored for years. It was really liberating, and has definitely inspired me to make some more decorative pieces.

part of a large blue ceramic bowl on a wooden table

- What’s your favourite piece to make?

This is a tricky question as like most makers it tends to change all the time! I think my all-time favourite pieces to make are my Bud Vases. Each one has a slightly different form and decoration, which allows me a lot of freedom as a maker; I want them to be as unique as possible. 

- How has the past year of lockdowns affected you?

I feel very lucky to have been able to keep making throughout the past year, and it has made me really value that I get to do something I love. The major change has been the lack of shows and craft fairs. I really enjoy meeting customers face to face, and have missed having those connections. Organisers have done a fantastic job of taking shows online, and hopefully in person events will be able to take place later in the year – it’ll be good to be back.

daffodils in a small ceramic vase with a small ceramic jug in the background

- Any exciting events coming up this year?

I’ll be taking part in the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair Online in July, which I am looking forward to. Then Norfolk Open Studios in September with a studio group I belong to in Diss. Hopefully I’ll be back to real life shows by the end of the year, at the wonderful Blackthorpe Barns. It’s just down the road from me, and features a brilliant selection of talented makers.

You can see some of Kate's collection here, and for smaller pieces please just drop us an email elaine@thebyregallery.co.uk and we'll send you images - or pop into the gallery. 

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