Inspired By Nature
Ceramicist Katie Timson creates beautiful, hand-crafted, stoneware and porcelain bowls, vessels and jewellery which are inspired by the natural world
Christmas is always a busy time for leading ceramicist Katie Timson, who exhibits and sells her work throughout the UK and internationally.
Described as ‘one to watch’ in a national, specialist ceramics magazine, Katie is inspired by the rugged countryside and diverse wildlife in and around the Ribble Valley.
From a young age Katie has always excelled at art and she took the decision to study Craft and Design at UCLan after leaving Clitheroe Royal Grammar School. At UCLan, she learnt to design and work with an array of materials, such as wood, ceramics, metal, plastics and textiles. Katie specialised in ceramics in the final year of her degree and continued onto a Masters in ceramics whilst starting to sell her work through shops and galleries.
Following her time at UCLan, Katie was asked to become artist in residence at the university, which involved offering help and advice to ceramics students whilst developing her own work in the studio there. She was also instrumental in helping set up a community ceramics studio in Preston where she taught wheel throwing and hand building.
Having recently moved from Wilpshire to the outskirts of Ribchester, Katie adds: “The beauty of the natural world never fails to inspire me and I feel most alive when exploring outdoors. I particularly love birds and I find myself constantly distracted by them, be it by sight or song.”
Mixing her own clay and glazes, Katie creates wheel thrown bowls and hand built vases – delicate vessels all based on specific birds’ eggs, pebbles, feathers, wildlife and discoveries that she has made on frequent walks.
“I like to work from quick sketches, using paint and collage to build layers and add texture and detail, whether it’s for painting or ideas for pots. I fell in love with clay, as the tactile nature of the material presents infinite possibilities.
“It seems very natural to combine two of my greatest passions, nature and ceramics, together. It means that I’m constantly being inspired, no matter what the location and environment. I’ve loved nature and walking, along with designing and making for as long as I can remember.
“I take a lot of photos for reference and there are usually found objects somewhere in my coat pockets or bag! My mind never really switches off from making and I’m always thinking about new ideas.”
Katie also has a collection of old collected and inherited natural history books, which are also a source of inspiration: “I do a lot of research when I am making a piece,” says Katie, who makes her bowls and vessels on a pottery wheel in her small studio tucked away in the garden.
“There are various techniques I use – all are quite time consuming. The glaze for my eggshell-inspired pieces is not very forgiving so it can be a bit tricky to achieve the ideal finish. I hand paint all the pattern details on top of the glaze before the pots go into the kiln for the firing.
“I’m often asked why I don’t just use a speckled clay or glaze, but if I did, the type and distribution of the markings wouldn’t be correct for each bird’s egg species, as each piece is inspired by and named after, a specific bird’s egg. It’s important to me to get the pattern and colour as close as I can to the real thing,” explains Katie.
“Luckily when I was studying for my degree my tutor really encouraged me to experiment with clays and glazes. Taking this experimental route was very exciting as it made me think more about pushing the boundaries.
“I constantly experimented with and altered different recipes for clay and glazes as the infinite outcomes meant there was always something new to try. It took up a huge amount of time, but I’ve ended up with a vast library of test tiles and notes that will act as an archive I can reference for years to come.”
Katie, who is now a part time ceramic technician at UCLan, adds: “I find the mix of making and teaching very rewarding.”
Over winter, Katie is planning to convert a summerhouse in the garden into a teaching space for wheel throwing lessons in the new year.
Katie’s work is available online: katietimson.co.uk