Ridge & Furrow Ceramics is owned and run by Marisa Devonshire in the Cotswolds. It is a small studio making wheel thrown stoneware pottery often decorated with nature motifs and delicate patterns, all drawn by hand, you may already know this much…
I have been toying with the idea of writing a blog for some time now and have decided that whilst the only thing I can manage to do post hand surgery is type, that’s what I’ll do! This first post is a get to know Ridge & Furrow Ceramics post. Learn what I make, why I make and more about me as a maker.
Why Ridge & Furrow?
The name of the business is taken from the many, many historic ridge and furrow fields that feature prominently in the area I live. Ridge and Furrow fields are a mark of medieval farming practices where the earth was ploughed over to one side to create peaks and troughs, this helped to aid drainage. As seen here on a satellite view, this particular area is covered with these types of fields still.
The reason for choosing this name is twofold. Firstly, the gentle undulations in the fields reflect the throwing lines my fingers leave on the pots as the walls are pulled up. I like to leave the maker’s presence in my work, these are after all handmade ceramics, they are personal, considered and anything but mass produced.
Secondly, these Ridges and Furrows have survived hundreds of years, despite the fact that once ploughed flat they cannot be restored. They are in some ways delicate despite being a large landscape feature. Much like my pots, if cared for well, they could last forever.
What drives me to make?
I make pots because it fulfils a need in me to make something both useful and beautiful. Yes, that William Morris quote really resonated with me. Further to this it has been a goal of mine to bring nature into our everyday lives through the rituals and habits that build up our days. Perhaps the ferns on your mug remind you of that beautiful summer walk through the woods. Maybe the Landscape etched into your vase reminds you of that holiday where you stopped and took the time to breathe deep, take in the mountain views.
My master’s dissertation was all about the ways artists have used their respective mediums to connect themselves and others to nature alongside exploring eco phenomenology and the dualistic ways humans view nature, I still use this research in my practice today.
What are the Materials?
The clay I use is a lightly speckled stoneware clay that I have used almost since I started throwing. It is toasty and warm when bare and lends a beautiful texture when glazed. Aside from the odd porcelain experiments, using only one type of clay has allowed me to get to know how it likes to be handled. When teaching lessons I tell my students that you have to make friends with the clay, don’t push it too far, but don’t let it take advantage of you either! The glazes I use are all mixed by me, some rom recipes I found hidden away in the university supply cupboard, some I have found and tested and adjusted to get them just right. My current palette is iron blue, satin green, butter yellow and glossy white. The colours and textures compliment each other so just one colour or any combination will look great sat on your shelf.
Who Even are You?
I (Marisa, pronounced Mar-ee-sa) studied illustration for my undergrad and began my master’s course leaning into pattern design. I took the ceramics workshop induction and became addicted. Addicted to the possibilities, how could I translate my love of pattern and nature into the clay? How to I throw thinner? What type of glazes do I want to use? My other creative hobbies past and present include knitting, crochet, printmaking, felting and of course I still get much enjoyment from drawing and painting.
Do you have any more questions? Any ideas for future posts? Let me know!