When I discovered Julie’s beautiful botanical imprint ceramics on Instagram, I got in touch with her straight away to see if she would make a meadow grass and cow parsley collection for me for my autumn range and she said yes.
I love the detail in Julie’s work and her ethos and I am so excited to have found another kindred seedhead and grasses lover! I asked her a bit more about her work and what inspires her…
What made you decide to become a maker and how did you get started?
It was a now or never moment when I took maternity leave. I knew my job in London would not be sustainable with raising a family and I also knew I’d waited all my life to follow my natural artistic talents, so I gave myself 3 years as a window to try out ceramics as a business. Fortunately it’s gone well and I’m definitely sticking to my new career as a potter.
What inspires your designs and materials and how has your work changed over time?
I started printing in clay originally with vintage lace, I used an offcut from my wedding dress to make porcelain vases. Over time I moved onto grasses and have kept exploring new botanicals as I find them or as specific commissions arise using plants I haven’t tried before.
What is your favourite thing to make?
I love printing with clay and flowers so the botanical plates are a pure joy to make.
What do you love most about being a maker?
There’s a great sense of freedom in creating pottery and it’s a magical process, that, when all the forces align results in absolute joy. The dark side to clay that there are plenty of opportunities for the process to go awry from cracks and warping to glazing and kiln temperature issues. It’s not a material for the faint hearted.
How important is the space you work in and what do you love about your workspace?
I’d love to be the person with a tidy studio to work in but that’s not really my thing, especially working short hours there’s often a pile of boxes and bits of foliage strewn unhelpfully across my workbench. I’m lucky to have my studio right outside the gate of our garden so the commute from home is just several steps before I can escape into my creative realm.
Why is sustainability and the environment important to you as a maker?
My work is so focused on the beauty that nature provides us it would be hard not to care about the environment and sustainability. Working with clay is a very earth bound material but it’s easy to forget that pieces need to be high fired in kilns that require a significant pull of energy. I try hard to fill my kiln and make each firing as efficient as possible. My best piece of equipment is my kick wheel which is powered purely by the muscles in my left leg!
What would you be in another life if you weren’t doing what you do?
I’d run a flower farm – my small garden is packed with interesting and unusual flowers I’ve collected and grown from seed and if I had more space this would definitely be my second job.
To browse the meadow imprint collection Julie has created for These Two Hands, click here: http://bit.ly/juliereillyceramics
Credit for photos of Julie Reilly: Eva Nameth, Table Shot: Gem Hicks Photography