I will often stop to look at something that others wouldn’t be excited about, such as a patch of rust, peeling paint, a weathered piece of wood or even mould.
Mould might not be first on the list of many people’s inspirations, but potter Charlotte Hupfield grew up in the English countryside and sees beauty where others might not know to look. We caught up with Charlotte to find out more about her craft and the part nature plays in her handmade ceramics.
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Charlotte of Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics – my small handmade business where I design and make individual ceramic homewares and gifts.
How long have you been making and creating?
I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember. I started modelling with plasticine from a young age and always loved drawing pictures for my mum, dad and grandparents. After school I took a degree in Surface Decoration where I specialised in ceramics, and graduated from Coventry University in 2008.
The first thing most people ask is if I have a potter’s wheel – but I could never get on with the wheel at uni, or should I say the wheel didn’t get on with me! I much prefer the hands-on process of physically constructing an object using my hands.
Can you describe the process involved in making a piece?
Each piece is made differently depending on what it is. Some of my vases are cast using liquid clay from my own handmade plaster moulds, whereas other vessels, tea light houses and pots are hand built from rolled out slabs of clay. A bowl will either be hand formed using the ‘pinch pot technique’ or press moulded.
The first thing most people ask is if I have a potter’s wheel – but I could never get on with the wheel at uni, or should I say the wheel didn’t get on with me! I much prefer the hands-on process of physically constructing an object using my hands. It just ‘feels’ more handmade and unique.
Who are your design heroes?
Internationally famous ceramicist Kate Malone was always my hero throughout college. I was in touch with her for a while, back and forth via email asking questions about her work life and processes to help with my college project, when she invited me to her London studio to help out for the day. I’ll never forget that experience, as she gave me an insight into what I hoped to achieve and has since played a big part in my influences.
What or who else inspires you?
I’m inspired by natural surfaces and textures, organic shapes, the rolling countryside, rocks and coves within seascapes, and plant life. I will often stop to look at something that others wouldn’t be excited about, such as a patch of rust, peeling paint, a weathered piece of wood or even mould. The detailed surfaces and patterns found within the natural world are what my ceramics connects to. I also have a thing for dandelions – they seem to be making an appearance in almost every piece of my work at the moment.
Can you describe where you work?
My studio is out in the garage at home. The side door to the garage is in the garden, so it’s great being able to step in and out. I have some old kitchen cupboards and worktops fitted around the inside of the garage which are perfect for storage and keeping organised. When the kiln is on, it’s so warm and toasty in my work space. I love being out there in the summer with the door flung open, so my cat can potter in and out.
My work space has changed dramatically over the past year or so. I worked in a small shed until April last year, when I bought my first home with my fiancé which has a garage. It was so exciting setting everything up and moving my kiln.
What’s your most-loved item in your studio?
My favourite thing has to be my kiln. I worked hard for it, and it was an amazing feeling opening it after the first firing – especially because my previous kiln was so old and tiny.
Are you a city or country girl?
Definitely a country girl. I grew up in a village and love being in the countryside, which is probably why my inspiration comes from nature. I spend a lot of my spare time out and about with Dizzy, the horse that I share.
I love being out there in my studio in the summer with the door flung open, so my cat can potter in and out.
What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
Pleasing people with something you have made from scratch, seeing their faces or hearing their comments when they are happy with the outcome… and then breathing a sigh of relief!
Being creative is a fun job. If I get bored of working on something, I could move on to something else that takes my fancy.
If you weren’t a ceramicist, what would you do?
I don’t think I could be a vet, but I think I would work with animals in some way.
I grew up in a village and love being in the countryside, which is probably why my inspiration comes from nature.
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Do plenty of research. Don’t be afraid of trial and error. If it excites you, go for it.