Small Business Friday with Linda Bloomfield
Happy Friday! As part of the blog's commitment to supporting small businesses and creatives, this week we are sharing with you imagery and an interview with potter Linda Bloomfield. Linda designs and makes tableware based on her thrown porcelain, with dimples and visible throwing lines showing the hand of the maker.
With a background as a scientist, she makes her own range of glazes and is particularly interested in the translucent colours obtained using oxides rather than commercial stains. She has written several books on glazes and teaches a course on colour in glazes at West Dean College.
Linda, tell us a little about you. Where is your studio based and how long have you been a potter?
I have been a professional potter for more than 20 years. My studio is in my garden in West London.
What first attracted you to pottery?
I went to a Saturday morning children’s pottery class in the 1970's and loved it from the start. There was only one wheel so we had to take it in turns to throw on the wheel and practice hand-building techniques. I remember being instantly fascinated by the process, in fact my mother still has a dinosaur I made there!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love 1950's ceramics, both studio pottery and manufactured designs such as the Poole Pottery Twin-tone range. I find that era of pottery so charming and am often drawn to the shapes and aesthetic of 50's ceramics when creating new ranges. I also love the gentle fusion of soft colours working harmoniously together.
Handmade cup and saucer by Linda Bloomfield
Is glazing a specialty you have acquired over time and what is special about the glazing you use on your products?
I trained as a scientist before becoming a potter and love experimenting with glazes to create different effects and finishes to my pieces. I read a lot of books on glazes and also write my own books, the latest being 'Science for Potters'.
I am obsessed by using only raw oxides and no commercial stains to colour my glazes. The colouring oxides dissolve in the glaze to give transparency and depth, like a pool of coloured glass. I also like matt glazes with the texture of marble.
You are a writer, and a teacher as well as a potter.
How important is it for you to share your knowledge on glazes and teach the next generation of potters?
As a materials scientist, I was trained to publish my research, so publishing my glaze research feels like a very natural thing to me. It's gratifying to know that other ceramicists can use and develop them further using their own creative techniques and style. We only make progress by standing on the shoulders of those who came before us...
Favourite colour combinations?
It can often change! But currently it is mustard, grey and pale pink. I often take colour combinations from textiles.
What does your typical day look like?
Today I am focused on glazing so I'll be glazing the insides of the pots in the morning and leaving them to dry over lunch. Then I'll glaze the exterior of the pots in white satin matt, clean the glaze off the bottoms and load everything into the kiln. Firing takes about 14 hours overnight, with around 18 hours to cool down before the kiln can be opened again. My packer will come the next day and pack all the orders to send off.
I am currently making tableware for a new cafe in Ladbroke Grove and am often working with restaurants to create something bespoke. I'm lucky to have worked with some wonderful outlets, from Nobu (Berkeley Street) and Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa (Piccadilly) to the Royal Cafe Bar at the Albert Hall.
When you are not in your studio, what do you enjoy doing?
Foraging for mushrooms or walking through bluebell woods in the spring. I love living in London but always enjoy the space and peacefulness of the countryside. It's a wonderful way to foster creativity!
Find out more about Linda's work and explore her ranges here.
You can also connect with her on Instagram.
All photography by Henry Bloomfield.