I’m excited to be stocking these beautiful, smokey dark grey, saggar fired ceramics by Alison West. I love the smooth texture and wintry colour of these large mugs. They’re perfect for drinking hot chocolate by a fire.
Alison is an artist based in Dartmoor who specialises in creating exquisite and thoughtfully produced tableware and vessels. Her work is unique in that she employs a distinctive firing technique known as Saggar Firing which results in the creation of natural surface patterns and decorations on her pottery. She is inspired by the beautiful Dartmoor landscape around her and uses Cornish Stoneware clay to work with which is known for durability. The process of saggar firing involves placing pots inside a gas kiln within a container called a saggar. Within the saggar, Alison combines locally sourced combustible materials such as pine cones, beech nuts, grasses, fungi, ferns, seaweed, wood shavings, and naturally occurring minerals. As the kiln is fired, the combustible materials inside the saggar ignite, producing vapours. These vapours permeate the pottery, creating unique and natural patterns and decorations on the ware. The entire surface decoration of a saggar-fired pot evolves from the moment the kiln is lit until the pottery has completely cooled. Unlike traditional glazing techniques or raku firing, where the surface design is fixed beforehand, the beauty of Alison’s work lies in the unpredictable and evolving patterns created during the saggar firing process. Each piece becomes a unique work of art, cherished for its one-of-a-kind design.
To make her tableware functional and safe for everyday use, Alison seals the high-fired pottery with a non-toxic, food-safe, water-based sealer. This sealer not only waterproofs the unglazed ware but also makes it highly stain-resistant. Her tableware is designed to be dishwasher-proof. Alison and I bonded over our love of nature and tradition and I love her work. I love that she uses local materials and uses this saggar firing technique which results in tableware that is not only beautiful but also environmentally conscious.