Behind the scenes with Lynne Hutchinson from BLH Ceramics in her Newcastle studio.
Why did you decide to start your own creative business?
It almost happened by accident. I started doing ceramics and became more and more interested in it. To be able to study it more I went from evening classes to doing a foundation degree at Newcastle College. That gently nudged me in to the direction of actually producing work to sell, and I became more interested in that. I used to be a freelance graphic designer and had sold creative work in the past, but never thought I could make a career out of ceramics at the time. Then I had a career break to bring up my children and that’s when I fell in to it. I was craving a creative outlet, and ended up falling completely in love with it.
What was your first design?
At college the first thing we had to do was design something for a local award that had references to the North East. It turned out to be a lantern and the local reference was blue stars, which was a reference to the Newcastle brewery. Before then I made little bowls and spent a long time making ‘wobbly pots’. I still have some of those wobbly pots!
What or who inspires you?
I’ve got lots of ceramic inspiration, but generally my inspiration is mid-century design. The thing I always come back to is that 40s, 50s or 60s era of design. I always go to Scandinavian as well and it comes across in my jugs. I want the inspiration to be a combination of mid-century and modernism, which is quite conflicting really. There are a lot of makers that inspire me, such as George Ormerod whose colour work is fantastic. Different areas of peoples work inspire me in different ways.
Where are you based and what’s your studio like?
It’s lacking in air conditioning! It’s lovely when it’s just right, in the summer it’s like being in a Disney cartoon. I look out on to the garden and I’m doing exactly what I want to do and it’s like a dream. I’m lucky to have it and I’m very fortunate that it’s just there for me to do my work. It has everything I need; I’ve got my wheel, my table and my kiln, and it’s surrounded by greenery. It’s beautiful really, but it gets messy very easily.
What are you most proud of?
I think it would be the Sgraffito jugs. They have become my signature piece, and a combination of the processes I use on them, which is now used across a bigger collection. You can see detail close up and from a distance you can’t see that. The surface finish is a combination of shiny and matte, that’s something that I’ve developed myself and I’m very proud of.
What is the most interesting collaboration / commission you’ve worked on?
I tend to do my own designs and sell that at shows or through exhibitions. It’s only really recent that I’ve started doing all of this it’s still new to me. I’ve just took part in the crafts council hothouse scheme, which is for emerging makers, that was a good way to work with a mixed craft group and a really interesting thing to do. I’d like to collaborate with someone such as a furniture designer, or perhaps someone in interiors.
What’s been the most unusual project you’ve worked on?
When I was at college, I decided to be experimental and do a figurative project based on human forms. I really enjoyed it and it was very valuable. I did a lot of figure drawing, and then made them in clay. The quality of line that I used to draw them was the same way that I then created them in clay, and I hadn’t realised this at first.
What interesting/exciting projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently developing my spheroid collection, which is coming along nicely.
What would be your dream project?
I would love to make an instillation for a particular building. There is a place in the Lake District that occasionally have installations, and to work on a project like that on a big scale would be a dream. I’d adore the kind of work where you respond to the building or the features within a building.
What are you exhibiting at the 2015 Northern Design Festival?
It will be stripy pots! I’m exhibiting in both the Design Event MART and the Craft Council Hothouse exhibition at this year’s Festival. I will have my spheroid collection, which come in all sizes, and the Sgraffito jugs in five different sizes.
What’s next for you?
I am building up my orders, I have the Northern Design Festival and I’m doing Potfest in the Pens. I was recently at Art and Clay in Hatfield, which was fantastic. I’m just finding my way through shows at the minute. I’m doing the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Festival in Manchester, and have various Christmas shows coming up. I’m also very excited about some of the galleries that I’m going to be working with this year and next.