Kate Welton makes beautiful wheel-thrown stoneware from her studio in Norfolk, England. We were delighted to collaborate with her on our latest collection of handmade cat bowls to create an extra-large water bowl with swimming Koi Carp inside and two smaller dishes for food adorned with hand-painted cats.
When did your interest in ceramics begin / Have you always wanted to be an artist?
KW: I was lucky enough to attend a school which still had a kiln and ceramics room. During my A-Levels I started to experiment with clay, although at this point it was in a more sculptural way than I currently work. Clay captured my imagination; both the tactile quality of the material and its versatility have always fascinated me. Studying (BA) Hons Design Crafts at De Montfort University gave me the opportunity to access a wonderful variety of craft processes, but the draw of clay was too great and I specialised in ceramics in the last year of my degree. It was her that my love of throwing developed; the satisfaction of seeing a ball of clay develop into a functional vessel never ceases to make me smile.
What inspires your creative direction and decisions when it comes to colour and decoration in your work?
KW: Within my collection colour plays a subtle but important role. I am inspired by the colours in the Suffolk and Norfolk landscapes around me, both from the magnificent East Anglian skies, and the gently rolling fields. Often, I'll contrast these muted blues, greens and greys with a pop of brighter yellow. Mixing my own colours allows me so much creativity within my palette, and I spent time experimenting with layering to achieve the colours I work with today.
The beautiful water bowls you have designed for us are adorned with koi carp, can you tell us a bit about the decoration technique you used to create the fish?
The Koi Carp design was really fun to create. I began by drawing the fish, the outline of which became the shape for the stencil I used to control the application of colour to the surface of the water bowls. Inky midnight blue slip (liquid clay) was painted in layers using the stencil to form a block of colour. When almost dry, I used a technique called sgraffito to carve back through the slip, adding details of eyes, fins and scales to the Koi Carp. The natural cream of the clay provides a perfect balance to the intense blue slip.
Koi Carp Water Bowls being made in Kate's studio
If you could invite two artists to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
Vanessa Bell and Lucie Rie. I love Vanessa Bell's paintings, her use of colour and shape are awe-inspiring. Her whole lifestyle, how ahead of her time she was also really inspires me. Lucie Rie's pots are sublime, such exquisite mark-making. I once watched a film of Rie unloading a kiln well into her 80s - that's the dream! I'd love to hear their thoughts on art, and women in art and craft.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not potting in your Norfolk studio?
I love being outside, so walking is one of my favourite things to do. I'm very lucky to live surrounded by beautiful countryside. Cooking (and eating!) have got to be up there as well, I'm definitely a sweet and savoury kind of person!