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Jenny Jones, Polarstar Pottery

Meet Jenny from Polarstar Pottery

by Folksy

Meet the Maker – Jenny Jones from Polarstar Pottery

Jenny Jones from Polarstar Pottery makes unique ceramics with a whole lot of character. From her ‘salt fish’ (think salt pigs but fishy) to her smiley face candleholders, Jenny’s pieces are made to make you smile. Here Jenny talks to fellow Folksy seller, milliner and jeweller Isobel Robinson from Lillibets Millinery about where her inspiration comes from and why she loves working with clay.

Treat yourself to 15% off Polarstar Pottery with code MAKER15 until 15th January 2023

Shop Polarstar Pottery on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/PolarstarPottery

Polarstar Pottery fish

Clay is just such a wonderful medium to work with. There are so many possibilities and options to try, and lots of interesting decisions about shape and design to make along the way.

Jenny Jones, Polarstar Pottery

Hi Jenny. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you make?

Hi, I’m Jenny Jones and I’m the potter at Polarstar Pottery. I make hand-crafted ceramics in my home studio in Letchworth Garden City. 

Polarstar Pottery beehive honey pot

What was it about pottery that made you want to turn it into a career?

Clay is just such a wonderful medium to work with. There are so many possibilities and options to try, and lots of interesting decisions about shape and design to make along the way. I did pottery as a hobby on and off for many years with evening classes and pottery holidays. I always knew it was something that I wanted to spend more time doing. Then in 2019 I had the opportunity to create a home studio, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Polarstar Pottery

I love all the different characters you create. Your fish are so unique and fun. Where do you get the inspiration for a new design?  

Inspiration comes from many places. Sometimes it’s from natural found objects, illustrations in an old book or something someone says. Sometimes it’s from exploring the possibilities of a new glaze or technique, and sometimes it’s just experimentation with the clay. If a pot goes wrong I always play around with it before it goes in the reclaim bucket.

I also like to do commissions. Often it’s for a special occasion, so it’s a real privilege to take people’s ideas and bring them to life. I usually make several versions of a new idea and refine the design and process each time. I try and make the most of the space in my kiln, so this needs a bit of planning to work out what will fit efficiently. Often I will make smaller or flatter things to fit in the spare space, and there is always space to fit in a few buttons. 

Polarstar Pottery salt fish

My favourite thing to make has to be the fish. I’ve been making ‘salt fish’ which have a bigger mouth so you can put things inside and use them in the kitchen. Like a salt pig, but fishy.

Jenny Jones, Polarstar Pottery

You seem to create a variety of styles, from more traditional pieces to quirkier characters. Do you have a favourite piece or style that you make?

My favourite thing to make has to be the fish. I just love seeing their little personalities emerge, especially when I give them eyes!  Recently I’ve been making ‘salt fish’ which have a bigger mouth so you can put things inside and use them in the kitchen. Like a salt pig, but fishy.

Overall, I’ve been trying to make a wide range of items at different price points, so there is something for everyone. At the same time, I’m learning more about what people like, what they want to have in their homes and what they want to give as gifts. 

Polarstar Pottery smiley face candle holder

You work from your home studio. Can you tell us the best part of running a creative business from home and whether there are any challenges it creates?  

I really enjoy seeing things through, from initial idea to final product, and then seeing it make someone happy when it goes to a new home. It’s a complete end-to-end process. There are so many steps along the way, and I have to get them all right. It’s definitely a challenge, but a very enjoyable one, and I’m learning so much all the time.

Polarstar Pottery

Four years ago I knew how to make things with clay, but I had never run a studio, fired a kiln, taken a product photograph or been on social media!

Working from home means I can fit my making around other commitments, and its easy to pop into the studio to check on things – although a few minutes can easily turn into a few hours!

ceramic buttons

I try and make the most of the space in my kiln, so this needs a bit of planning to work out what will fit efficiently. Often I will make smaller or flatter things to fit in the spare space, and there is always space to fit in a few buttons!

Jenny Jones, Polarstar Pottery

Is there a typical day at the studio?

The elapsed time for making ceramics is often several weeks. It’s a step-by-step process – you have to wait for things to dry and then make enough to fill the kiln. This means I make things in small batches, determined by the size of my kiln, and several batches might be in progress at different stages. So I might spend several hours on one process, for example throwing, trimming, glazing or taking photos and then do something different. This means there is lots of variety and every day is different. 

Polarstar Pottery ceramic owl ornament

I read that the glazing and firing process can be a little unpredictable. What surprises has it thrown up for you?

Yes, firing and glazing can certainly be unpredictable – especially at higher temperatures. Surprises can be good and bad. I’ve had reds come out black, glazes vaporise and disappear, glazes run and stick pots to the kiln shelf, but also some lovely decorative effects.

The important thing is to try and learn from what happens and figure out what works and can be repeated, so I always make notes. It’s about getting to know your materials and how your kiln behaves.

Polarstar Pottery ceramic cat ornament

Is there anything new you are working on at the moment or a new technique you’d like to experiment with?  

I’ve been at a lot of markets recently so I’m looking forward to spending more time in the studio in the new year and building up my stock again. I’m planning some new functional ware, definitely some themed mugs, maybe some storage jars and pie dishes. I’ll also be trying out some different animal ideas, and maybe also some garden decorations for the spring. I’d also like to make more use of coloured slips and underglaze colours, particularly with sgraffito decoration, where you scratch a design through the layer of colour to reveal the raw clay underneath.

Get 15% off Polarstar Pottery with code MAKER15 – offer valid until 15th January 2023

Shop Polarstar Pottery on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/PolarstarPottery


Meet the interviewer

Lillibets Millinery

The maker asking the questions this week is Isobel Robinson from Lillibets Millinery.

Read more about Isobel in our Meet the Maker interview

Shop Lillibets Millinery on Folksy >

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