Home Interviews The cute ceramics and playful porcelain of Delphine and Max
Delphine and Max

The cute ceramics and playful porcelain of Delphine and Max

by Camilla

Craft is personal, rewarding and therapeutic. Craft is a skill that is honed, and this skill can often be seen in the end product. Craft is at the frontline in the fight against mass produced impersonal objects. It is an expression of someone’s talent.

Meet Delphine and Max

Delphine and Max is a collaboration between French artist Delphine His and English illustrator Max Hiley. Together they make playful porcelain jewellery and ceramic homewares with a Scandinavian feel from their tiny loft studio in Leicester. We caught up with the creative pair to find out more about their ceramics and take a peek inside their studio, and discovered that their ultimate goal in life is to live by the sea with their kilns…  

Hi Delphine and Max. Can you introduce yourselves and tell us what you do?
Thanks for having us. We are Delphine and Max, a couple of artists who shacked up together in a little house and make cute stuff tucked away in our loft during our spare time. We are also parents to little Alice and cuddle supervisors for our three cats, all of whom want to share our studio space on a daily basis.

Delphine and Max

I’ve always loved making things. I remember making tiny patisseries from salt dough and jewellery from shrinking plastic from an early age. The highlights of my week were definitively the art classes!

How would you describe your aesthetic?
We would say our aesthetic is simple, modern, with a definite love of colours and patterns. Both of us always had an interest in Scandinavian design and clean lines.

Ceramic bookmark, the story so far, delphine and max

I’ve always been creative. I unfortunately took a detour into the mundane life of having a day job but with Delphine’s encouragement I am rediscovering my creativity…

Have you both always been creative?
Delphine: Yes, very much so. I’ve always loved making things. I remember making tiny patisseries from salt dough and jewellery from shrinking plastic from an early age. The highlights of my week were definitively the art classes!
Max: I’ve always been creative. I unfortunately took a detour into the mundane life of having a day job. With Delphine’s encouragement I am rediscovering my creativity and having fun at the same time.

Delphine and Max on craft

Craft is at the frontline in the fight against mass produced impersonal objects. It is an expression of someone’s talent.

How did you start working together?
Both of us did art and design at university and after doing our own things for a number of years, we decided to join forces and created Delphine and Max when our daughter arrived. Working together also allows us to bounce ideas off each other and have double the fun… and double the arguments!

Delphine and Max, studio, Leicester artists

Our loft studio is very small space but we still managed to squeeze in three kilns. We will often be found chain drinking tea working until the early hours of the morning on the kitchen table when the kilns are running.

Can you describe your workplace?
We work mainly from our tiny (very cluttered) loft studio. It’s a very small space but we still managed to squeeze in three kilns and even a glass bead making torch. It has nice views over Leicester and lots of natural light through large roof windows. At night, the studio acts as an observatory and a great place to watch fireworks. The main disadvantage is having to run up and down stairs fetching things like water, as we have no sink in the loft. Working from home allows us to fit our work around our eclectic life. We will often be found chain drinking tea working until the early hours of the morning on the kitchen table when the kilns are running.

Who are your craft heroes?
Delphine: There are too many to mention them all because there’s so much talent out there. A visit to the Contemporary Craft Fair in Bovey Tracey in Devon each year is an excuse for a trip to the seaside and always cheers us on when we need to be around a creative buzz. At the moment I really admire Jane Foster, ceramic artist Ken Eardley, Kirsty Hartley from Wild Things, and Abi Simmons from Red Hand Gang. All of them have a very distinctive style and a love of colours that I can really relate to.
Max: My craft heroes are Rob Ryan (I’m upset that I’ll be unable to visit his shop/studio in London before it closes in Feb 2016), stained glass artist Christian Ryan for his contemporary feel with a very old medium, and papercut artist Caroline Rees as I love black and white work and her distinct style.

Let's Stay Home, Delphine and Max

Working from home allows us to fit our work around our eclectic life.

What else inspires you?
Max: OK, I guess this calls for me to dig deep for an answer, as that is a HARD question. Here goes…
Everything in front of your eyes is inspiration. Learning to see it is the hard part.
Everything you hear is inspiration. Filtering out the noise is the hard part.
Feelings are inspiring. Conveying that feeling is the hard part.
In general, our life goal of living by the sea inspires us to work harder.
Delphine: Oh, that’s such a difficult question. Anything and everything can be a source of inspiration, going through vintage magazines, a film, a song, a stroll in the city. I particularly like Pinterest, ’60s and ’70s vintage fabric and the Scandinavian aesthetic.

Delphine and Max

Everything in front of your eyes is inspiration. Learning to see it is the hard part.

How do you start a piece? 
Lots of designs come from pieces we have made for ourselves or for our friends. To a certain extent we are the guinea pigs. Usually when we start a new design we both scribble down ideas and sketches. We also like to play around with the clay. Sometimes an idea works on paper and looks gorgeous, but the ceramic execution might be too difficult, too fiddly and the finished result may not be as appealing as the original sketch. This can also work the other way around, where an original design might evolve once we’ve started working with the clay. Clay does have certain properties (strengths and weaknesses) that lead the design to a certain extent. Depending on the pieces we’re working on, we might try techniques such as transfer, underglaze, overglaze, texturing etc. At the moment Delphine loves to colour the porcelain clay and she loves to hand paint patterns as well.

Cactus jewellery, Cactus brooch, ceramic cactus brooch

We really like our little cacti collection, and we’re also really happy with the recent hand-painted textural decorating we’ve just started to do on our pieces.

What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
We really enjoy the decorating part of the process once the pieces are bisque fired. They are a little like a blank canvas. Adding colours and pattern is great fun!

Delphine and Max, Scandinavian inspired ceramics, glazes

Clay has certain properties (strengths and weaknesses) that lead the design to a certain extent. Depending on the pieces we’re working on, we might try techniques such as transfer, underglaze, overglaze or texturing.

Are there any other craft skills you’d like to learn?
Max: I love technology and would love to be able to do 3D printing to make our own cutters. The cool thing about 3D printed cutters is that they can cut and texture with the same cutter. No one else would have that shape either. The current cost of a machine, and lack of space are the things we have got to sort out first! If money was no object I would also look at a laser cutter to texture/cut porcelain in different ways, possibly while it was still wet.
Delphine: There are so many! Like most crafters out there we like to play with other mediums, so sometimes I can be found sewing a skirt for Alice, or Max will be drawing patterns on the windows! I love to discover and try new craft all the time. Max complains about it as I clutter our tiny workspace with my new craft crush stash regularly. Next year we hope to get back into making our own glass beads and mixing them with our porcelain.

Delphine and Max

We would say the Delphine and Max aesthetic is simple, modern, with a definite love of colours and patterns.

What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
We are still in the process of reaching this goal, but when you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work and you give more of yourself to it. Everyday is different, every commission is different and keeps you on your toes, often making you try things you wouldn’t have otherwise.

What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
First impressions last. If you’re going to sell online, keep your shop looking fresh, and make sure you take time photographing your product. Make things you like and you are passionate about, then be self critical and ask yourself, would you buy it? Don’t be afraid to experiment with a new approach, as this will keep things interesting for yourself and customers. Get the price right too!

Delphine and Max

If you’re going to sell online, keep your shop looking fresh, and make sure you take time photographing your product. Make things you like and you are passionate about, then be self critical and ask yourself, would you buy it?

What does craft mean to you?
Craft is very personal, rewarding and can be therapeutic. Craft is a skill that is honed, and this skill can often be seen in the end product. Craft is at the frontline in the fight against mass produced impersonal objects. It is an expression of someone’s talent.

What’s the secret to growing a successful creative business?
If anyone knows let us know… but we are having great fun trying to find it ourselves!

Delphine and Max

Ultimately, one day, we want to live by the sea with our kilns and have craft as our only job.

Do you have a favourite piece you’re most proud of?
We really like our little cacti collection, and we’re also really happy with the recent hand-painted textural decorating we’ve just started to do on our pieces. They are really tactile, and you can feel the colour, which adds to the product.

What was your highlight of 2015 and what are your goals or resolutions for 2016?
We really enjoyed working on the Lucky Dip Club X Folksy collaboration last year and having a combined social media promotion with the other makers involved. It felt really nice to be involved with crafters who we admired and who we had followed prior to the project, as it can feel really lonely sometimes stuck in a home studio bubble. Our goal for 2016… well, our extremely hyperactive insomniac daughter starts school full time in September 2016, and this could be a game changer (we hope) enabling us to devote a massive amount of extra time to craft… watch this space! Ultimately, one day, we want to live by the sea with our kilns and have craft as our only job.

Super Dad cufflinks, father's day cufflinks, delphine and max

 

Shop Delphine and Max on Folksy >

Use the discount code FABFOLKSY20 for 20% off all Delphine and Max products on Folksy until 1st February 2016.

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