Julia Smith Ceramics was born in 2010 when I relocated to the Scottish Highlands from Glasgow. I had worked with clay for 10 years prior through ceramics education after graduating from Glasgow School of Art. My motivation is to create ceramics which people enjoy using as well as looking at.
Craftsmanship and quality are very important to me. Everything is made in-house in my studio in Ardersier. Mugs are thrown on an electric potter’s wheel then they are finely turned until they feel just the right weight. Handles are extruded and applied when the mug bodies are leather hard and then they are carefully dried to avoid warping. After the first firing (the bisque) the mugs are sanded then glazed with my handmade glazes. Lots of glaze testing is carried out to achieve different colours and textures. I glaze fire the earthenware clay to a higher then usual temperature, this makes the ceramic non-porous and darker in colour. My drawings are made on paper using coloured pencils, water colour paints or inks then printed and applied as decals on to the glazed surface. They are fired a final time and again the mugs bases are sanded to ensure a smooth base.
None of the clay goes to waste. The clay water left over from the throwing process is mixed with clay scraps and recycled. The more the clay is recycled the more plastic (stretchy) it becomes making it easier to throw with. Ceramics can never claim to be a ‘green’ industry but I aim to create as little waste as possible by packing the kiln full for each firing and recycling work that is not the best quality back down to reusable clay.
The natural environment where I live, by the Moray Firth, strongly influences what I make. My glaze colours are reminiscent of seascapes with light reflected on the water or mist rolling in. Drawings of mountains, forests, animals and trees feature often in my drawings.
Alongside the studio pottery I make one off larger pieces for exhibitions. Without the constraints of producing multiples or making surfaces food-safe I am free to work in an experimental way, layering glazes with glass and firing multiple times until I achieve interesting results.
The studio in Ardersier (near Inverness Airport) is open by appointment and has a small display of work available for sale. If you would like to arrange a visit please get in touch via the button below.