The Pick ’N’ Mix collection came about because I was given some second-hand plaster moulds for a jug, teapot and sugar-pot. Their shape reminded me of penny sweets and I wanted to accentuate that characteristic.
Tana West says “ceramics crept up on her.” It first captivated her at school when she made a clay cat, took hold six years ago when she bought a kiln, and now has her fully in its grip. Today she makes coffee pots, jugs and tea cups in pick ‘n’ mix shades in her East London garden studio, where she also experiments with illustrations and glazes on bone china and porcelain. We caught up with Tana to find out more about Glazed and Confused Ceramics…
Can you introduce yourself?
Hello! I’m Tana, an urban wildlife enthusiast and maker of ceramic wares hailing from Bristol but now based in East London. I work under the moniker Glazed and Confused Ceramics.
How long have you been making and creating?
Ever since I could! My mum still uses a pin cushion I made when I was four, and a small ceramic cat I made at school lives on the dresser in their house.
How did you start working professionally with ceramics?
It crept up on me. I have always loved making things in clay but the tipping point happened when I bought my kiln in 2009. I taught myself slip-casting by making lots of tea cups and then thought the most sensible thing to to was to try and sell them.
Can you describe the process involved in making a piece?
I spend a lot of time drawing – the images usually develop from pages in my sketchbooks. I mostly slip cast porcelain blanks and then play with a selection of images and colours to make my ceramic wares. Recently I’ve been colouring the slip directly and experimenting with Cobalt Oxide, which has been a lot of fun.
Can you tell us more about your Pick ‘n’ Mix collection? Where did that idea come from?
The Pick ’N’ Mix collection came about because I was given some second-hand plaster moulds for a jug, teapot and sugar-pot. Their shape reminded me of penny sweets and I wanted to accentuate that characteristic. I decided to colour the porcelain slip with traditional sweet colours and only glaze the inside, leaving the surface matt. I like the idea of people being able to choose what colour they want and inject a bit of self-indulgence into their tea making!
What or who else inspires you?
As a definite urban wildlife enthusiast, quite a lot of my work has been inspired by a set of pigeons who lived opposite me. I enjoy watching them and their drain pipe squabbles while drinking my morning coffee. I make things that are a little absurd because I enjoy making people smile wryly as they partake in a beverage or a piece of cake.
Where do you work?
I currently share a workspace at the end of the garden, with just enough room at one end for a kiln and a table. I love my shed but sometimes wish for a slightly bigger workspace.
What’s your most treasured possession?
I have to admit (due to the friends and family who will read this) that my home is so full of things I have deemed to be treasured possessions, I find it hard to specify one… I’m a collector and find everything to be interesting or yet to fulfil its destiny.
How would you spend your perfect day?
Going on a road trip to somewhere unexpected and ending up by a fire gently warming my feet and holding a mug of hot chocolate.
You’ve recently come back from Sweden. What did you do there?
I was awarded a scholarship from the Anglo-Swedish Society to study at Konstfack in Stockholm for three months. It was a great opportunity and I really enjoyed making new work.
What’s the best thing about being a designer and maker?
I love the immediate response to something you’ve made – I really like chatting to people at craft fairs and hope my ceramics continue to facilitate conversations.
If you weren’t a maker, what would you do?
I’ve often thought I’d make a good cream tea waitress.
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Do it! I love going to craft fairs and talking to people about the things I’ve made, a shared love of pigeons or how I’ve made something.
To celebrate being our featured maker, Tana is offering 15% off everything in her Folksy shop with the discount code CONFUSEDSUMMER. Valid until 30 June 2015