Spotlight on ceramicist Cressida Borrett
Being a crafts maker
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I make stoneware, mainly functional ceramics for everyday use.
When did you decide to pursue making crafts as a career?
I didn’t. It just sort of crept up on me. When my kitchen was overflowing with pots, I filled up my friends’ houses. Then I was bought a kiln for my birthday, and the evening class hobby gradually took over my life. I started to sell my work locally, and have now turned it into the perfect job to fit around bringing up my children.
What training did you have?
An evening class in my local adult education college for the last 20 something years, and lots of practice.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Getting great feedback from my customers about how they are enjoying using or looking at my work.
What’s your favourite quote?
‘They’re all bloody mad’ (G.Quinn talking about everyone else)
Who is your favourite artist?
I don’t really have one.
What are you aiming for?
To be able to enjoy making a living in and around pottery for as long as possible.
How will you get there?
Hard work and determination as usual, and hopefully a few good ideas.
Is anything holding you back?
Not enough hours in the day…
You and making crafts
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I hope people using my pots wil enjoy the feeling of eating/drinking out of someting handmade and unique, and hopefully even beautiful. I am still suprised by the number of people who say ‘thank you’and actually mean it. I never got that in my previous business career!
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
The whole pottery process is long and uncertain right up until the opening of the kiln at the end. The finished pot might have only taken an hour to make, but there will have been many different stages, with lots of slow drying bits involved along the way. Most customers don’t appreciate this, and wonder why I can’t make their order in a week, so I am working to educate them…
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
Radio 4 keeps me sane and makes me feel like I am part of the world, and not just me on my own in my little studio.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
I am working on combining print techniques with scraffitto and slip trailing.
Being inspired by making crafts
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
Seeing work that is technically better than mine always inspires me to keep aiming at getting better and better.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as a crafts maker?
I love making things, can’t imagine life without a ‘project’. When I am not making things in clay I relax by making someting with fabric, wood, food, paint or whatever. At the moment my pottery is inspired by things in my garden (alliums, seedheads etc) and fabric textures.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
A blue and white fruit bowl that sits on my kitchen counter. I made it about 5 years ago, and have been trying ever since to make another one equally lovely.
Like many people I am super critical of my own work, but this one is the exception.
a crafts maker’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for making crafts into a career, could you give any advice?
If you are lucky enough to do something you are passionate about for a living you are very fortunate. If you are also lucky enough to make a proper living at it you are more fortunate still! You need to be realistic, understand the financial side, get some basic business knowledge, and price your time high enough to be able to eat! If you can’t sell your work at this price, you will have to keep it as a hobby and look elsewhere for an income. I know lots of potters earning under £4 an hour…
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
Make good, original work and get it out there to local schools/fairs when you first start, and craft fairs, galleries etc, as you get better (and more expensive).