Monday, 30 June 2014

The Wonderful work of Mairi Stone

I came across Mairi Stone's exquisite ceramic pieces on Etsy and have since been captivated by the stunning intricate detail and range of colours in her work. The West Cork based ceramists' pieces look wonderful combined and are a fantastic addition to any home.

1. How did your business come about (and when did it start)?

I think the seed of it was always there, as a kid I loved making mud pies and was fascinated by nature. In the early 80’s I attended a night course and then worked for a short time in a small pottery in the UK. I didn't actually learn any technical stuff but I found my medium and a desire to use it. Only after coming to West Cork in 2000 was I able to set up a small workshop and realise that desire. I received a start up grant from the West Cork Enterprise Board and became officially self employed in 2004. I’ve also received funding from the West Cork Development Partnership. I am unashamedly self taught but there have been many people who have given me their advice and wisdom over the years. My late father bought me my first hobby kiln and supported me every step of the way, as have the rest of my family. I am here today because of my dream and their support and am immensely grateful for all of them.

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? 

My work is pretty abstract, I don’t sketch anything, all my designs go from my head straight to the clay. When starting a new piece I usually have a rough idea to go on and then I just start making and see what happens. Once I have a design I like, I’ll generally do a batch of them all together. A lot of my work is highly textured, I’ll use lots of things that I’ve found whilst out on walks or make little polymer clay stamps based on the textures I’ve seen. 

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

When I started out I worked with stoneware and had quickly got myself into wholesaling. I was playing away with the porcelain on the side. I was getting very bored with the repetition of what I was doing and it took me a couple of years to pluck up the courage to throw that side of it all in and concentrate on developing the porcelain. So the biggest obstacle was my own fear of leaving the known and taking the leap into going with the flow and doing what I love.

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

The whole of nature totally fascinates and inspires me, its forms, textures and colours inform my work but there is a major influence from all things aquatic. I rarely have trouble with being motivated but on the odd occasion that I do, I just take that as a sign to go and do something totally different and then I’ll come back refreshed and ready to go.

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as an artist/designer?

The icing for me is whenever anyone loves and appreciates my pieces. My work is all about trying to express my own love and reverence for the beauty of this earth. If my pieces evoke any of that feeling in the viewer then my work is complete!

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

There are too many artists / designers to mention here whose work I admire but the illustrations of Ernst Haeckel are a huge influence. I admire anyone who follows their dreams and passions and loves what they do. It shines from their work and has inspired me to do the same.

7. Describe your creative space

My workshop / studio is a large wooden shed in the garden. Its fairly tidy, I like to know where everything is! I live in West Cork on the Mizen peninsula surrounded by countryside and I definitely include that as part of my creative space, I’m not sure it would be so easy if I lived in a town and didn’t have so much space around me.

8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

It was something I read as a teenager, I don’t remember what it was in now but it said to always take time to be quiet and listen to the voice within, follow the intuitions that it gives you. Do what you love and the rest will take care of itself.. It seems to have worked so far :)

You can keep up to date with Mairi's work here...

(all above images are © Mairi Stone)