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.
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.