Stories


handmade

Stories


handmade

Rosemarie Durr

Rosemarie Durr

  Posted by Anna Crudge in: Handmade, Irish Ceramics, Kilkenny, Pottery

Tell us a little bit about what you make

I make a range of hand-thrown tableware, made from Stoneware clay that are designed for everyday use.

Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favorite thing about the space and how do you get into the mindset of making?

At the moment I work between two studios. Both of which I share with my husband Ceramic artist Andrew Ludick. Our studio and shop in Castlecomer Discovery Park and the studio we built at home (4 miles outside Castlecomer)  since the kids came along. We split our time between the two so one of us can be home with the children. The studio/shop in the Discovery Park is a converted stable dating back to the seventeen hundreds with exposed stone walls and a red brick floor and our studio at home is a modern wooden structure with plenty of light. Both spaces are great to work in. I love the warm bright feeling I get from our home studio and in our shop/studio, I like being in a space where I'm away from the children and I can focus more on getting work done. So these days the only mindset I need to get into to make is a quite space away from little people.

What is your favorite tool and why? Where do your tools come from?

I have gathered many tools over the years but actually only use three or four on a regular basis. The one I use in the making of every pot is a plastic kidney (it's shaped like a kidney hence the name) I use it to smooth and shape the outside of my pots before I take them off the wheel and I made it myself from the lids of the catering buckets of mayonnaise. I've been making them for nearly 20 years and find that the Hellman's mayonnaise catering bucket lid is the perfect strength of plastic. I also have a porcupine quill which I got from a famous American potter Warren MacKenzie many years ago (he is over 90 now and still making pots) that is an amazing tool for putting holes in teapots among other things and a joy to use. I've since bought more from America as they do wear out after a while.

Can you describe the making process and inspiration behind your work?

Throwing the pots is actually the fastest part of the process it's all the other parts that take time. I weigh out the clay so each cup, bowl, etc. Is the same weight of clay and for my stacking range I set a pointer to make sure each pot is the same size. With my other ranges, I don't do this so these pots are a little more organic. With the stacking range, they need to be exact so they stack neatly. I then let the pots dry for a day or so (depending on the weather) then trim and stamp the bottoms and it's at this stage I add handles if required. After a week or so drying, they are bisque fired up to 1000 degrees C. They come out white, strong enough to handle easily and porous, it's at this stage I glaze them by dipping them into a large bucket of glaze and wiping the bottoms clean then they go back into the kiln and are fired up to 1290 degrees C. This firing takes 12 hours and then a further 24 hours before the kiln is cool enough to open. Then the pots either get packaged up to go out to shops or brought the short distance from the kiln shed to our shop.

I love to make pots. I love the physical act of throwing. I love the challenge of throwing pots that are uniform and exact in a short space of time. It's the joy of cooking and using pots in everyday life that inspire my designs. Function is an important aspect of my work, simple shapes that work well. We live up the hills and on walks along our quiet country road you go from hedgerows to pine forest to hill top views with the vast expanse of fields, distant mountains and big, big skies. All of these things soak into my work.

What led you to choosing this craft as a profession? What do you love most about it?

I studied Graphic Design for a couple of years after leaving school and following that I took up a night class in pottery while working in Dublin, this was the first time I worked with clay and I loved it straight away. I applied for and got accepted to Grennan Mill craft school and following that the   DCCOI Pottery Skills course in Thomastown. That was twenty-three years ago and I have never looked back. I trained as a production thrower, so I'm happiest at the wheel. I am completely at ease while throwing pots and count myself very fortunate to call it my Job.

You can purchase Rosemarie's stacking collection both online and from our Drury street location. 

Rosemarie Durr

Rosemarie Durr

  Posted by Anna Crudge in: Handmade, Irish Ceramics, Kilkenny, Pottery

Tell us a little bit about what you make

I make a range of hand-thrown tableware, made from Stoneware clay that are designed for everyday use.

Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favorite thing about the space and how do you get into the mindset of making?

At the moment I work between two studios. Both of which I share with my husband Ceramic artist Andrew Ludick. Our studio and shop in Castlecomer Discovery Park and the studio we built at home (4 miles outside Castlecomer)  since the kids came along. We split our time between the two so one of us can be home with the children. The studio/shop in the Discovery Park is a converted stable dating back to the seventeen hundreds with exposed stone walls and a red brick floor and our studio at home is a modern wooden structure with plenty of light. Both spaces are great to work in. I love the warm bright feeling I get from our home studio and in our shop/studio, I like being in a space where I'm away from the children and I can focus more on getting work done. So these days the only mindset I need to get into to make is a quite space away from little people.

What is your favorite tool and why? Where do your tools come from?

I have gathered many tools over the years but actually only use three or four on a regular basis. The one I use in the making of every pot is a plastic kidney (it's shaped like a kidney hence the name) I use it to smooth and shape the outside of my pots before I take them off the wheel and I made it myself from the lids of the catering buckets of mayonnaise. I've been making them for nearly 20 years and find that the Hellman's mayonnaise catering bucket lid is the perfect strength of plastic. I also have a porcupine quill which I got from a famous American potter Warren MacKenzie many years ago (he is over 90 now and still making pots) that is an amazing tool for putting holes in teapots among other things and a joy to use. I've since bought more from America as they do wear out after a while.

Can you describe the making process and inspiration behind your work?

Throwing the pots is actually the fastest part of the process it's all the other parts that take time. I weigh out the clay so each cup, bowl, etc. Is the same weight of clay and for my stacking range I set a pointer to make sure each pot is the same size. With my other ranges, I don't do this so these pots are a little more organic. With the stacking range, they need to be exact so they stack neatly. I then let the pots dry for a day or so (depending on the weather) then trim and stamp the bottoms and it's at this stage I add handles if required. After a week or so drying, they are bisque fired up to 1000 degrees C. They come out white, strong enough to handle easily and porous, it's at this stage I glaze them by dipping them into a large bucket of glaze and wiping the bottoms clean then they go back into the kiln and are fired up to 1290 degrees C. This firing takes 12 hours and then a further 24 hours before the kiln is cool enough to open. Then the pots either get packaged up to go out to shops or brought the short distance from the kiln shed to our shop.

I love to make pots. I love the physical act of throwing. I love the challenge of throwing pots that are uniform and exact in a short space of time. It's the joy of cooking and using pots in everyday life that inspire my designs. Function is an important aspect of my work, simple shapes that work well. We live up the hills and on walks along our quiet country road you go from hedgerows to pine forest to hill top views with the vast expanse of fields, distant mountains and big, big skies. All of these things soak into my work.

What led you to choosing this craft as a profession? What do you love most about it?

I studied Graphic Design for a couple of years after leaving school and following that I took up a night class in pottery while working in Dublin, this was the first time I worked with clay and I loved it straight away. I applied for and got accepted to Grennan Mill craft school and following that the   DCCOI Pottery Skills course in Thomastown. That was twenty-three years ago and I have never looked back. I trained as a production thrower, so I'm happiest at the wheel. I am completely at ease while throwing pots and count myself very fortunate to call it my Job.

You can purchase Rosemarie's stacking collection both online and from our Drury street location. 

James Carroll

James Carroll

  Posted by Anna Crudge in: handmade, irish furniture, James Carroll, sycamore stool

What do you make?

I make various types of furniture and occasionally both larger wooden things and smaller wooden things. For the most part, the furniture is for sitting on, individual and made of local wood.

Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favourite thing about the space
and how do you get into the mindset of making?

I worked outdoors on trestles for about two years before I built my workshop. When it rained I'd put the tools away. I wanted to make the workshop I had imagined. I knew if I cobbled something together temporarily I wouldn't ever get around to building it. So I also spent that time gleaning materials. Thankfully the only thing I ended up actually buying off the shelf was some steel RSJ's for the uprights, some clear roof panels, and the electrics. It was difficult to complete but I’m glad I did it that way.

I love the fact that it is right next to where I live and so accessible. It is often quite disorganised and crammed full of all sorts. Too much usually. I am always working on improving and changing it. When I do a Big Tidy (about once a month) I get a real creative rush to mess it up again.


What is your favourite tool and why? Where do they come from?

I do like Japanese carpentry tools. A few years ago, after a three-day workshop, the Japanese saw sharpener Nagakatsu gave me a Nokogiri saw he had tuned and sharpened. It was new but made from steel he had procured from a batch of blades made in 1950's. A real humdinger. I was not/am not worthy.

Can you describe the making process and inspiration behind your stools?

For me, it usually starts with the materials and the story behind them. Even if
it is not apparent in the finished piece it is the part of the process that interests me most.

What led you to choosing this craft as a profession? What do you love most about it?

I was always interested in making things and seeing how they are made. I didn't
consciously decide to make it a profession but just kept doing it I suppose. Now though I only do it for the money.

You can purchase James' Sycamore Stools both online and from our Drury street location. 

James Carroll

James Carroll

  Posted by Anna Crudge in: handmade, irish furniture, James Carroll, sycamore stool

What do you make?

I make various types of furniture and occasionally both larger wooden things and smaller wooden things. For the most part, the furniture is for sitting on, individual and made of local wood.

Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favourite thing about the space
and how do you get into the mindset of making?

I worked outdoors on trestles for about two years before I built my workshop. When it rained I'd put the tools away. I wanted to make the workshop I had imagined. I knew if I cobbled something together temporarily I wouldn't ever get around to building it. So I also spent that time gleaning materials. Thankfully the only thing I ended up actually buying off the shelf was some steel RSJ's for the uprights, some clear roof panels, and the electrics. It was difficult to complete but I’m glad I did it that way.

I love the fact that it is right next to where I live and so accessible. It is often quite disorganised and crammed full of all sorts. Too much usually. I am always working on improving and changing it. When I do a Big Tidy (about once a month) I get a real creative rush to mess it up again.


What is your favourite tool and why? Where do they come from?

I do like Japanese carpentry tools. A few years ago, after a three-day workshop, the Japanese saw sharpener Nagakatsu gave me a Nokogiri saw he had tuned and sharpened. It was new but made from steel he had procured from a batch of blades made in 1950's. A real humdinger. I was not/am not worthy.

Can you describe the making process and inspiration behind your stools?

For me, it usually starts with the materials and the story behind them. Even if
it is not apparent in the finished piece it is the part of the process that interests me most.

What led you to choosing this craft as a profession? What do you love most about it?

I was always interested in making things and seeing how they are made. I didn't
consciously decide to make it a profession but just kept doing it I suppose. Now though I only do it for the money.

You can purchase James' Sycamore Stools both online and from our Drury street location. 

Maker Stories

Maker Stories

  Posted by Clare Grennan in: handmade, handweaving, heritage craft, Irish craft

Visitors to our shop love to hear the story behind the item they are purchasing. In an age of mass production, the handmade is still, thankfully, cherished by many. Over the Summer, we will be highlighting a selection of our favourite stockists who are masters of their chosen craft from wood turning to weaving. Every week, we will add a new story which will give an insight into a specific making process and the life of a craftsperson, from their favourite process and studio set up, to what led them to pursue a career in craft and design. 

Our first maker story featuring Nicola Gates of Olla Nua will be posted early next week. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maker Stories

Maker Stories

  Posted by Clare Grennan in: handmade, handweaving, heritage craft, Irish craft

Visitors to our shop love to hear the story behind the item they are purchasing. In an age of mass production, the handmade is still, thankfully, cherished by many. Over the Summer, we will be highlighting a selection of our favourite stockists who are masters of their chosen craft from wood turning to weaving. Every week, we will add a new story which will give an insight into a specific making process and the life of a craftsperson, from their favourite process and studio set up, to what led them to pursue a career in craft and design. 

Our first maker story featuring Nicola Gates of Olla Nua will be posted early next week. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Range of Cufflinks

A Range of Cufflinks

  Posted by Clare Grennan in: contemporary jewellery, cufflinks, geometric jewellery, handmade

Our very own jewellery line Names Dublin was launched last Autumn. Even after months of brainstorming and experimenting in the studio, we could not have predicted how popular it would prove to be. Over the months leading up to Christmas, we noticed how much our male customers seemed to really love the jewellery, the appeal being the bold geometric shapes, the matte and polished surfaces, the satisfying weight of the brass.

The idea of producing a range of cufflinks seemed like a natural progression for Names, and so in January we began prototyping. What has always bothered myself and Laura about cufflinks are the backs, how flimsy they tend to be, an afterthought to the design of the front. Our focus was to produce each cufflink as one complete shape, giving equal importance to the front and back, ensuring both complimented each other perfectly. Constructed in three parts, each cufflink has been formed by cold connection, as in there was no soldering involved. By using this process, the end result is much cleaner and a strong geometric design is achieved. 

The overall process, from initial drawings to finished pieces has been a challenge, but we are really pleased with the end result. The four designs in the range are named after our fathers and grandfathers, John, George, Martin and Mick. Each set of cufflinks is available in either rose or yellow 18carat gold plated brass and packaged in our custom made jewellery boxes. 

  

A Range of Cufflinks

A Range of Cufflinks

  Posted by Clare Grennan in: contemporary jewellery, cufflinks, geometric jewellery, handmade

Our very own jewellery line Names Dublin was launched last Autumn. Even after months of brainstorming and experimenting in the studio, we could not have predicted how popular it would prove to be. Over the months leading up to Christmas, we noticed how much our male customers seemed to really love the jewellery, the appeal being the bold geometric shapes, the matte and polished surfaces, the satisfying weight of the brass.

The idea of producing a range of cufflinks seemed like a natural progression for Names, and so in January we began prototyping. What has always bothered myself and Laura about cufflinks are the backs, how flimsy they tend to be, an afterthought to the design of the front. Our focus was to produce each cufflink as one complete shape, giving equal importance to the front and back, ensuring both complimented each other perfectly. Constructed in three parts, each cufflink has been formed by cold connection, as in there was no soldering involved. By using this process, the end result is much cleaner and a strong geometric design is achieved. 

The overall process, from initial drawings to finished pieces has been a challenge, but we are really pleased with the end result. The four designs in the range are named after our fathers and grandfathers, John, George, Martin and Mick. Each set of cufflinks is available in either rose or yellow 18carat gold plated brass and packaged in our custom made jewellery boxes. 

  

Helen Faulkner - Process & Planters

Helen Faulkner - Process & Planters

  Posted by Anna Crudge in: Áras, Down Arts Centre, handmade, Helen Faulkner

We have been fans of Helen Faulkner's work for some time now, the contrast between the dark terracotta clay and the creamy coloured glazes she uses is very appealing. We were delighted when she agreed to create a range of plant pots for Áras, our new collection of home wares. We interrupted the production of our new plant pots with a few questions about what inspires her work and how it is made.

 How did you first get into working with clay?

I was introduced to clay during a foundation art course but the first time I got to trying throwing on the potters wheel was a couple of years later on my Contemporary Craft Degree in England and from then on it was all I wanted to do.


What inspires the shapes and colours of your pieces?

My inspiration comes from how the pots are going to be used. I love cooking and eating! So my tableware range is all about food, a smooth curve on the base of a mug that rests comfortably in the hand or thinking about what colours the food will look great on, such as a leafy green salad in a bright blue bowl.


You have designed a collection of plant pots for us, what was the most challenging aspect of the project? what was the most enjoyable?

Making a final decision on decoration was hard, throughout the design process I go through so many ideas that it can be hard to settle on just one.  I really enjoyed going through the design ideas sent sent through by yourselves, trying to pull out the most important aspects of the design to you and bringing them together with my style and ideas, it's a challenge I enjoy!



What sort of plants do you envisage people putting in the pots? Did you have something specific in mind when designing/prototyping?

With the tall pot I can imagine spider plants, the stripy leaves that droop down would be a great contrast against the rich red clay.  I can imagine mini cactus in the shallow pot but something a bit more useful would be an aloe vera plant.  A row of tall plant pots would also look great in the kitchen with herbs in them, again I just can't help but bring it back to food!


Are you currently working on any other new/exciting projects?

I'm working towards a group exhibition that's happening in Down Arts Centre where I have my studio, it's part of August Craft Month in Northern Ireland that is a month long collection of events celebrating crafts, lots of workshops and talks happening too.


What is the greatest and worst part of  being self employed?

The best part of being self employed, aside from making pots every week, is the control over my working life and deciding what is important for me.  The hardest part of being self employed is nearly the same thing, having to control every aspect is a massive juggling act and sometimes I mess it up but it's all learning so I just start again the next day!



Finally, what do you most like to do on your days off? Do you give yourself days off?

I spend my spare time cooking, I love spending time in the kitchen although I usually end up with a lot of dishes to do because I like to use all the pots I’ve collected over the years! My dog Sheva, who spends her days in the studio with me keeping an eye on things, takes up the rest of my day with walks.

Click here to shop some of Helen's fabulous pots and planters made exclusively for the Irish Design Shop ARAS collection.

Helen Faulkner - Process & Planters

Helen Faulkner - Process & Planters

  Posted by Anna Crudge in: Áras, Down Arts Centre, handmade, Helen Faulkner

We have been fans of Helen Faulkner's work for some time now, the contrast between the dark terracotta clay and the creamy coloured glazes she uses is very appealing. We were delighted when she agreed to create a range of plant pots for Áras, our new collection of home wares. We interrupted the production of our new plant pots with a few questions about what inspires her work and how it is made.

 How did you first get into working with clay?

I was introduced to clay during a foundation art course but the first time I got to trying throwing on the potters wheel was a couple of years later on my Contemporary Craft Degree in England and from then on it was all I wanted to do.


What inspires the shapes and colours of your pieces?

My inspiration comes from how the pots are going to be used. I love cooking and eating! So my tableware range is all about food, a smooth curve on the base of a mug that rests comfortably in the hand or thinking about what colours the food will look great on, such as a leafy green salad in a bright blue bowl.


You have designed a collection of plant pots for us, what was the most challenging aspect of the project? what was the most enjoyable?

Making a final decision on decoration was hard, throughout the design process I go through so many ideas that it can be hard to settle on just one.  I really enjoyed going through the design ideas sent sent through by yourselves, trying to pull out the most important aspects of the design to you and bringing them together with my style and ideas, it's a challenge I enjoy!



What sort of plants do you envisage people putting in the pots? Did you have something specific in mind when designing/prototyping?

With the tall pot I can imagine spider plants, the stripy leaves that droop down would be a great contrast against the rich red clay.  I can imagine mini cactus in the shallow pot but something a bit more useful would be an aloe vera plant.  A row of tall plant pots would also look great in the kitchen with herbs in them, again I just can't help but bring it back to food!


Are you currently working on any other new/exciting projects?

I'm working towards a group exhibition that's happening in Down Arts Centre where I have my studio, it's part of August Craft Month in Northern Ireland that is a month long collection of events celebrating crafts, lots of workshops and talks happening too.


What is the greatest and worst part of  being self employed?

The best part of being self employed, aside from making pots every week, is the control over my working life and deciding what is important for me.  The hardest part of being self employed is nearly the same thing, having to control every aspect is a massive juggling act and sometimes I mess it up but it's all learning so I just start again the next day!



Finally, what do you most like to do on your days off? Do you give yourself days off?

I spend my spare time cooking, I love spending time in the kitchen although I usually end up with a lot of dishes to do because I like to use all the pots I’ve collected over the years! My dog Sheva, who spends her days in the studio with me keeping an eye on things, takes up the rest of my day with walks.

Click here to shop some of Helen's fabulous pots and planters made exclusively for the Irish Design Shop ARAS collection.