Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Makers: Sarah Harris of Just Betty.

The Makers series of posts highlights the artists that make the products we sell, a peek into their workspace and process as they create beautiful things. 
In this Makers post I'm delighted to introduce you to Sarah Harris, who not only makes the most adorable animal and cacti shaped planters that practically fly off our shelves but is also an all around awesome lady that I am delighted to be friends with ! I sent Sarah a few questions about her creative process:

Jess:Tell us about your work space- do you have a dedicated studio or do you carve out space where you can when you need? What does it look like?

Sarah: I'm lucky that I live very close to a pottery studio in my neighborhood and I can go there once a week for a few hours in the evening. Pottery is my after work activity that has turned into a fledgling side projectMy pieces are hand built, so I usually set myself up on one of the large table spaces.  It's great to be in a creative space with other potters and see what they are working on week to week. In the summers, the baseball game is on the radio, otherwise it's jazz radio. There's a definite feeling of calm in the studio, I love it.


Jess: What are your tools of the trade?

Sarah: To get the slab of clay nice and even, I use a rolling pin and roll the clay between two wood dowels to keep the thickness consistent. I also use a plastic rib and a sponge for smoothing. You can add texture using anything from lace trim, place mats to textured wallpaper but there are a few wood carved stamps that are my favourite to use. The secret ingredient is magic water, which is a mixture of water, soda ash and sodium silicate - it's clay glue when I need to stick clay together. 

 Jess: Share a little about the process involved in your work

Sarah: I start by making the container first so it has time to harden a bit before I add the animal head. I roll out the slab and wrap it around a cylinder tube to form the shape.  The animal heads are build by hand with no tools. I use my fingers to shape the grooves of its features and then join the heads to the container. I've learned that the clay needs to have the right softness before they get attached - too soft and you get droopy necked sad animals.  
It takes two firings in the kiln to finish to piece and in between the firings I give it colour. I hand paint the texture and features and then dip the entire piece in an overall colour.

Jess: Where do you look for inspiration?

Sarah: I really love seeing other potter's work, in the studio or on social media. There's an infinite number of combinations of glaze colouring, patterns and textures that make up each piece. Often times, just seeing what another potter feels inspired to create gives me a surge of ideas for my own work.
Because pottery is firstly a hobby for me, I always come to the studio with lightheartedness and I think that has been my biggest inspiration. There is nothing that makes me happier in the studio than seeing a funny little giraffe or adorable swan come out of the kiln. I can't help but giggle every time.

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See what I mean? Totally adorable. You can follow along with Sarah and her sister on their Just Betty instagram feed here, and you can find Sarah's cute as a button pots at the shop.

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