The Art & Science of Ceramics: Interview with Linda Bloomfield (Part 1)

Linda Bloomfield is a ceramicist. She specialises in handmade ceramics but also designs for manufactured ranges. Linda has collaborated on many projects, such as tableware ranges for Liberty, Harrods, David Mellor and the Royal Albert Hall’s cafe. She took a moment to discuss her background, her inspirations and her making processes with us.

Was there a specific event that triggered your wish to become a potter?

I went to a children’s pottery class when I was about 8 or 9. We had to throw on the wheel every time, and that was my favourite thing. The person running it was a studio potter, and I just thought it would be such a nice thing to have a studio and make pots. Later on, when I was 16, I had more lessons with another potter. It was just my hobby then, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve always had pottery in the background as a hobby, until I was able to buy my own studio.

Where does your passion for materials come from?

There are two sides to materials: there’s actually handling it with your hands, and there’s also the science. I’m quite interested in the science as well (the glazes, the different colours) as it’s quite useful to know.

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Where does your inspiration come from?

I go to pottery exhibitions and art exhibitions. I also get ideas from all kinds of things, including tableware, especially from the 50s. I get inspiration all around; it’s just everywhere. For instance, I saw some 50s textiles that gave me the colours I wanted for my manufactured range.

Speaking of midcentury ceramics, which element inspires you?linda02

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Poole pottery tableware range made in the 1950s? It was called Twintone. It had a pastel colour on the inside and a neutral colour on the outside. I was influenced by those 50s ranges, which are not made anymore. My tableware range has a similar two-tone pastel colour.

What happens after you get your inspiration? Do you create sketches, or do you try to throw on the wheel first?

I do some drawings, but mostly I just try to make it in 3D. I cut out pictures or pin them on my board in the studio, and I try to make something with a particular shape. For instance, you can’t make a perfect sphere on the wheel. The bottom part of it would collapse, so you have to make it more like an egg shape.

With the glazes, you can’t tell what colour they will be until you fire them. The colour changes in the kiln, so you need to do many tests. If you make your own colours, you can make pink, but not red or orange, so I tend to make more blues and greens. I use copper oxide to make turquoise and green.

How long does it take?

In the first week, I make pots. In the second week, they dry, and in the third week, I glaze them. I have to fire them in the kiln, then glaze them and do another firing. The whole cycle – the drying and firing time – takes three weeks just to make one pot. I can usually make about 50 to 100 pots in three weeks.

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When you launch a new collection, do you make new colours or do you use existing ones?

Yes, I decide on the palette. I did some bottles that were inspired by Morandi paintings. I chose the three colours first, and then I tried to make the glazes in that colour.  I often like using three colours. I think it’s better to limit colours. For instance, it’s nice to have some contrast, like one neutral and two contrasting colours, such as mustard, grey and black. In my own range now, I’ve got more than 6 colours, so customers can choose.

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What do you like about In The Window? What made you join In The Window’s community?

I really like the layout, it just looks lovely! It has some good quality designers, and it’s easy to use. I just think it looks really contemporary, and the choice of designers is very good.

Do you feel it’s really important as a designer to tell your story?

Yes. Having pictures of the workshop, how it’s being made, that’s really important. I like the fact you can have a whole story [develop] in a window.

Stay tuned for the second part of our interview with Linda next Wednesday (13/05/15).

Discover Linda’s work and story in thewindow.com/lindabloomfield.

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