Meet Lucy Davis from Utterly Pottery
Lucy Davis runs a colourful ceramics business with two distinct sides. One part of Utterly Pottery is a mobile paint-your-own-pottery studio, and the other is her own range of fun designs which she sells through Folksy. Here she talks to fellow Folksy maker Carol Barwell from Pooks Studio about the challenge of juggling the two, her love of craft and colour, and the joy of opening the kiln.
15% off Utterly Pottery with code MAKER15 (valid until 31 July 2022)
Shop Utterly Pottery on Folksy
Hi Lucy! Could you tell us a little about yourself and your colourful business?
Hi, I’m Lucy. I live in Bottesford in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire. I have always been crafty and, from a very early age, I would be baking with my grandma and trying out different arty projects. I still love cook and bake, and always have project on the go. Crafting is my zen. It must be in my genes, as so many of my family members are also creative.
I studied Primary Teaching (with Art) at the University of Chester before setting up my own business. There are two sides to Utterly Pottery. It is a mobile ‘paint your own pottery’ studio, which started when I took the plunge and bought a kiln back in 2011. I run workshops and birthday parties, personalised baby hand and footprint pottery and unique one-off commissions for special occasions. Over time I also developed my own range of fun, colourful pottery, which I sell in my Folksy shop. This gives me an opportunity to explore my own designs and ideas. After all, why should the children have all the fun?
Being creative every day is a joy. I feel very lucky to be able to do something I love and call it work.Lucy, Utterly Pottery
How do you balance your studio time with your mobile pottery business?
Lots of juggling, which is not always sensible idea with pottery! It can be a tricky balance. There are certain times of the year when my studio time is squeezed dramatically as my customer-facing work takes over – in particular my personalised print pottery. Christmas is often the peak when everything is go, go, go. I’m sure it’s the same for many small businesses and makers.
Considering the last couple of years, I feel so grateful to be in this position. Throughout the lockdown periods my face-to-face workshops, parties and baby print work came to an abrupt halt and I really missed the interaction with my customers. However, it did give me the opportunity to create my own work, build my Folksy shop and increase my online presence. I love both sides of Utterly Pottery and juggling the two certainly keeps me on my toes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Your work sings with colour! Do you have favourites or favourite combinations?
As you’ve noticed I do love a bit of colour! I’m also fond of pattern and geometric shapes. I try to incorporate these into my hand-painted pottery designs. Choosing one favourite colour is tough. I find myself drawn to teal, aqua and turquoise colours but if you asked me the same question tomorrow I might answer it completely differently! Bright vibrant rainbow colours are always a bit of a ‘go to’ for me too. Basically, I am a colour lover, I can’t seem to resist a colour pop and I am certainly not a fan of beige.
Is there a typical day for you in the studio and what is it like?
No two days are ever really the same with Utterly Pottery, which is one of the things I love. The variety of my work and the constantly changing processes involved mean that I am never bored. My work can be quite seasonal at times, so I have learnt to be more flexible and go with the flow. This is when the two sides of Utterly Pottery really complement each other, as I’m able to focus on trying out new ideas if and when my customer facing work is quieter.
My day can often be affected by random factors such as light levels and how long the kiln takes to cool down. I try to use the best time of day for painting and photography, and do the less needy glazing, wrapping and admin during duller times. I’m very lucky to be able to work from home as this allows me to be flexible, and set my own tea breaks.
I have two multifunctional work spaces: the garage is my kiln room but also gets used for glazing, wrapping and storage; whereas the garden cabin is a hive of crafty activity. The light levels are great in here, so I use this space to paint alongside my mum, who can often be found sewing away alongside me.
What is the best part of your process and do you have a tool you cannot manage without?
My favourite process, and one I’d love to explore more, is working with raw clay. I currently use white earthenware clay to take impressions of baby’s hands and feet. This process creates small offcuts of clay that I recycle and use to make items for my Folksy Shop such as brooches, plant markers and bunting pennants. I add texture to the clay using wooden blocks, textured rollers, clay tools, lace and any other items I find interesting. It’s such a lovely way to use scraps and I really enjoy the therapeutic nature of working with clay.
The transformation that occurs in the kiln – from matte, muted, earthy tones to glossy, vibrant colour – always amazes me.Lucy, Utterly Pottery
One tool I certainly couldn’t function without is my kiln. I never tire of lifting the lid to see the magic that has occurred during firing. The transformation from matte, muted, earthy tones to glossy, vibrant colour always amazes me. Things can go dramatically wrong though, so it’s a constant learning curve and you certainly don’t want to make the same mistake twice.
What do you do away from the studio?
As I mentioned earlier crafting is my zen, so I always have sideline project on the go. I think when you have a creative job it’s really important to find creative ways to relax and unwind that are not related to your work. I try to do this with a sewing project or baking something yummy. I love to trawl through foodie magazines for new recipes to try.
When I do need a break from crafting, I like to get out in nature, particularly for a woodland stroll. There’s something calming and relaxing about being under the canopy of trees. I also like to travel and have just recently returned from a holiday in France. A change of scenery is always welcome.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out on their creative journey?
Go for it! I’ve never really looked back. Don’t get me wrong, it can be tough flying solo at times. It’s important to try to connect with like-minded people. The Folksy community is a very friendly and supportive one. There’s always someone willing to help if you have a question or something is bugging you.
Earlier this year I became a Folksy Local Team Captain for the East Midlands region. I’m very much still wearing my ‘L’ plates but have really enjoyed being part of a team again – something I didn’t realise I missed from previous employment.
The most important advice I can give to someone embarking on their creative journey is to do something that you love. If you love and enjoy the process, this will shine through your work.
As a former primary teacher, how important do you think the creative arts are for children?
Creative arts are absolutely vital and should weave like a silver thread throughout a children’s education. Every individual has a creative talent. It can take many forms and encouraging this creative expression can enrich a child’s overall academic learning. The saying that has always resonated with me is: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”
Where next would you like to take your business?
In the future I can see myself perhaps streamlining some of the workshops and parties I offer. That would hopefully enable me to focus more on the personalised baby print pottery side of my business, with a goal of reducing some of the balls I juggle.
I also really want to continue developing my own work alongside this too. As I mentioned earlier, I’d love to find more time to play and explore more with raw clay, perhaps do some hand building or even have a go at throwing?
What’s the best part of running a creative business?
Being creative every day is a joy. My favourite days are the ones spent painting away in my own little world. I feel very lucky to be able to do something I love and call it work.
15% off Utterly Pottery with code MAKER15 – valid until 31 July 2022
Shop Utterly Pottery on Folksy – folksy.com/shops/UtterlyPottery
Meet the interviewer
Asking the questions this week is Carol from Pooks Studio, a maker of beautiful, intricately detailed folk art dolls for grown-ups, based in Lancashire.
Read more about Carol here –https://blog.folksy.com/2022/07/05/pooks-studio-folk-art-dolls
Shop Pooks Studio on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/PooksStudio