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Learning Repeat Patterns

For a long while now I've been interested in getting to grips with making patterns, so I finally did some Skillshare classes and had a go at my own. Naturally I made a super complicated one for my first time - typical me! Does anyone else do this to themselves? Anyway it was great fun and took me waaay longer than I anticipated, mostly because I went in on the design.

I've had a fascination with vessels for a while now, partly sparked by the incredible Lindsay Stripling and her series on the subject, I think made a couple of years ago now? But also partly because I have a long and deep love of ceramics and history. One day I will get back into a pottery studio and you'll get fed up with my endless posts about pots and tiles. Until then however vessels have been cropping up in my work more and more. I'm hardly the only one, there's definitely a bit of a zeitgeist around them at the moment, but then artists often look back at historical forms and movements. Below is a little gallery of photos from trips to the British Museum, and the London Design Fair from last year. I constantly take photos and make sketches whenever I'm out and about, and try to get to events, exhibitions and shows as much as I can. Unfortunately due to COVID 19 that has not been possible for what feels like a long time now, and like many I'm feeling the affects in my practise, though obviously I am glad these places remain closed for now to protect staff.

Personally I love the handmade. The feeling of hand thrown ceramic pieces is like magic. Philip Pullman in His Dark Materials describes the intent that humans imbue objects with as they make them, and handle them, being alive and responsive. For me this so beautifully echoes of the feeling of holding an object someone has made with their love and time and skill. This is where the magic of handmade comes from. These are just two of my favourite handmade mugs that I love using day in and day out. Honestly they bring me so much joy! The first is from the amazing Studio Arho and the second is by the ridiculously talented Elizabeth Macneal when she was still making her gorgeous pottery under the Limehouse Ceramics name.

Throughout history we have made vessels for storing and carrying. But more than that we have made them to be things of beauty, to express ourselves, to tell and record stories, to be treasured and admired. The vessel as a concept also overlaps with fertility and the feminine. Women are vessels of a kind, creating and protecting the life within them, we hold the potential for many lives and worlds within.

Returning to my first attempt at pattern making I took the idea of vessels and drew as many different shapes as I could think of. I researched ancient pottery and got inspired to make a whole body of work, and made a lot of notes and sketches of the kind I'm pretty sue only I will be able to decipher, hopefully. I then created embellishments and designs for each vessel. Now you get an idea of what I mean by 'going all in'. So let's look at my initial line art with all the embellishments before I added any colour.

My instincts are always for bright and bold colours, I'm a visual peacock drawn to jewel tones. Above all teal, turquoise, pink and purple are my bedrock. I frequently force myself away from this palette as I am genuinely passionate about colour and love many, many different combos. You should see all my saved tabs and pinned boards for combo inspiration! So first off in this experiment I let myself off the hook and went to town with all the bright jewel colours I wanted. My natural palette if you will.

Hand drawn surface pattern design of many different tessellating pots and vases in bright jewel colours.

Once I was happy with the placement of all the colours I then tested how the tiled together, tweaked what needed it and repeated the process till I was happy.

Hand drawn surface pattern design of many different tessellating pots and vases in bright jewel colours.

Then I went back and limited myself to four muted colours as a reference to ancient pottery, and repeated the whole process.

As you can imagine I could keep making versions of this in various colour ways for a looong time. I had to stop myself from doing so as there are so many other things I want to make. But this has been a great experiment, both in learning to make repeat patterns and in colour play. There is every possibility I will return to this design as my own personal colouring in sheet, and every now and again reveal another colour way, despite what I have just said. However, I will not be spending any more studio time focusing on this particular piece in order to move other projects forward.

Just for fun here's a few, literally just a few, of my favourite ceramicists in no particular order. They're all absolutely worth taking a look at!

Elizabeth Macneal -

Studio Arhoj -

The Minty Mountain -

Takeawei Ceramics -

Jo Minnitt -

Paper & Clay -

Atellier Stella -

The Pottery Parade -

Group Partner -

Milo Hachim -

Lisa Junius -

Danielle Pedersen -

Natko Ceramics -

I'm going to stop myself here, but you best believe I could carry on! So now you know where to buy me gifts from ;) I'll let you be on your way. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks if you've made it all the way down to this rambling end. I think we both deserve a cuppa now. So I'm going to go put the kettle on and choose a mug. Hopefully see you again soon!

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