Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 at 6:06 pm
Posted by Jenny Hudson
I saw Helen Button’s work earlier in the year at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. I didn’t get to meet her at the event but caught up with her later to ask a few questions about her work and the process of creating porcelain tableware.
Helen’s work combines working with clay and illustration. She explains, “I regularly sketch out ideas for designs in my sketchbook. I may re-draw a theme many times until I am happy with the result. This design is then tested on a pot and it isn’t until the pot has been through the whole firing cycle (generally 4 weeks) that I decide whether to create a body of work using it. The forms of my work are realised through making rather than drawing. I enjoy drawing but am a 3D maker so creating pots and having the drawn image means I get the best of both worlds.”
The process of creating pots, tableware and ornaments fascinates me. I think it’s the idea of starting with something that is soft and pliable and using it to create something that looks and feels totally different. The transformation between the raw materials and the finished piece is what interests me the most.
Helen talks about the process she goes through from the initial idea and design to the finished article:
“On the making side of things I was hand building for 12 years. In 2009 with the desire to create beautiful tableware and the knowledge that it would take a great deal of determination and practice I attended a week long throwing course with Richard Phethean. Since then I have not stopped throwing and very rarely hand build. I really enjoy the speed and throwing technique, particularly now that I’ve gone ‘all round the houses’ with different clay bodies and have now returned to my preferred clay body – porcelain. Having the hand building techniques allowed me to transfer the skill of manipulating the clay into throwing.”
Helen’s work is available to buy from her online shop at www.helenbutton.com. The pots are made on the wheel from porcelain clay using only traditional techniques. The glazes are mixed from her own recipes and the images are applied by hand making each item truly unique.